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The Basics

Answer

A custom-built solution certainly comes with benefits, one of them being that you can customize it to your exact specifications. However, the decision to code a digital advisors from scratch is often a knee-jerk reaction to having a development team filled with experienced and motivated programmers.

Oftentimes, the complexity, total effort, and investment required are usually grossly underestimated. Some of the companies that ended up deciding on SMARTASSISTANT started out with a custom-built solution only to realize that the result was not satisfying and difficult to maintain. They reported that instead of having invested time into learning how to specify and build a solution from scratch, their time had been better spent filling orders or developing their core product. It ended up being a lot of work that only ended in a headache: Delayed deadlines (>12 months), exceeded budgets (avg. +200%), and sub-par results (e.g. low user acceptance and advice quality). These are crucial risks to consider.

The total cost of hard-coded solutions can far exceed the potential return on investment. You need to have access to a wide array of expertise and a great amount of foresight to build an effective, high quality solution. This involves knowledge of topics such as human decision-making and psychology, subtle influences on choice, user interface and interaction design, data management, intelligent recommender systems and analytics systems. Any successful solution not only has to look easy-to-use, it has to be easy to maintain.

Digital Advice doesn't work in a build-once-and-forget-it mode. We hear from clients who spent time and money to build great looking solutions that the advisors didn't perform well. The solutions weren't capable of growing with the company, didn't meet user expectations, were too complex and difficult to maintain, and therefore were outdated and scrapped soon after launch. You'll need a well-planned, scalable, and sustainable solution that can adapt quickly and flexibly to changes in the market as well as evolving user expectations. Anything else will inevitably hurt your business.

Much time is often lost during building and laying the foundations for the solution rather than focusing on the company's core competencies and primary goals.

SMARTASSISTANT helps you to take the guess work out of creating successful digital advisors. Instead of fumbling around with building core functionalities, you can leverage a standard software that already comes with the functionalities you need or have not yet thought of - all out of the box. You'll be able to benefit from years of experience and proven best practices that will allow you to use your resources more effectively.

Years ago, hard-coding digital advisors was your only option. Today this is no longer necessary. Just remember how setting up and managing a professional-looking website required a lot of heavy-lifting and millions lines of code. Now, with hosted e-commerce platforms and CMS technologies, this is almost unheard of. The same goes for Digital Advice solutions.

It all comes down to whether or not you have the resources to build your digital advisors from the ground up. Is it worth investing your time to build a custom solution, or is your team's time better spent on your core?

These questions are for you to answer. We can only provide food for thought.

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