When evaluating the need for video-based practice in a sales training toolset, today’s market may seem confusing. After all, anyone can record themselves via an iPhone, save that file, upload it to a shared folder, and voila - video! But at some point, the technology reaches a point where your homegrown system has to be compared to a professionally developed platform, which can make all the difference in addressing the problem you are trying to solve.
There was a day not too long ago that CRM ran off of spreadsheets. Today, few companies would consider running their business off spreadsheets, and, like CRM, we may be approaching a similar tipping point with video-based practice solutions. Nevertheless, you still have two choices today: build or buy.
But are these choices really equal? We can peel back the full spectrum of costs associated with building a solution to see which option presents the most value.
For larger organizations, the prospect of internally sourcing a video-based practice system seems promising. Video recording technology exists, and many of the typical components of a video platform are perhaps already created: content management, analytics, and commenting/feedback are all large parts of the solution.
In reality, while 70% of the work may be feasible, the last 30% is incredibly demanding, requiring domain expertise, time, and large investments. Organizations that we have worked with that have attempted to build their own solution more often than not drop the idea before even reaching a first prototype - after spending millions.
Beyond the features, though, are technical concerns that make a workable platform difficult to produce. While much has to be in place to make the system work – the basic view, practice, submit workflow, feedback tools, an in-house champion or training team, or even just budget – a well-constructed solution addresses the below broad considerations:
Recording and Sharing
Video practice solutions are built on the idea of the “bi-directional video platform,” which saves video content in a cloud-based platform, automatically sharing it with groups as needed, pairing it with content or activities, and allowing coaches to evaluate it. Even with webcams built into most computers, building a solution for teams to record video and share it across the company is time consuming and challenging. The recording technologies used in current-generation video-practice platforms are cutting edge, requiring dedicated R&D to reach and use reliably.
A core part of a practice-based solution is the ability to track who watches content, how often they interact with it, and any performance increases that result. With an internal solution, these details are difficult to track – and costly to discover. While you can attempt to track practice through raw data alone, it is typically only possible to count how many times content is engaged with, and not by whom. This leaves a gap in your ability to understand intent and engagement, and ultimately to make more informed adjustments.
With any enterprise tool, questions of scalability and security are paramount. Can an internal solution support a global or distributed team? Will it be secure and safe enough to support company intellectual property and information? Because sales messages and strategies are often the differentiator between a company and its peers, the idea of having these secrets leaked or shared inappropriately would be catastrophic.
Reliability and Scalability
A homemade system is at higher risk of breaking – without a dedicated team constantly developing it, bugs and long-term issues go unnoticed. When this happens, who is responsible for fixing it, and how? While it can be less expensive upfront to rely on existing tools, over the long term, in-house systems are more likely to fail and require more investment to repair, taking time away from an internal team trying to build the next product for you to sell.
Likewise, mass recording of video is not the same as mass consumption of video. Typical challenges include access to recording bandwidth and upload and routing speeds. With an internal investment, your IT team suddenly inherits support for an undocumented tool.
It is increasingly expensive to build an internal solution, due to the level of support, sophistication, and complexity present in most video-based practice systems. A team would look to a meaningful investment to build out a rudimentary internal system, which does not take into account updates, new features, or support and stability. Typical costs include research, development, licensing, team and training, bandwidth and storage, and time taken from marketable product development. Unlike an internal static content portal, video practice systems are dynamic, and will constantly require new investments in stability and administration.
Ultimately, the investment will require several injections of new support, directly financing a single-use tool.
All of these factors make internal development of a sophisticated, and thus effective, video practice platform unwise. The sheer volume of resources, time, and research will push delivery of the solution out across several years. By the time the system launches to your reps, it will be out of date.
When asking whether to build or buy a video-practice solution, we have already reached the tipping point. Unless your organization is prepared to become a provider of a video-based practice platform, it is far more effective to buy, rather than build.
Have you had an experience building an internal tool, only to switch to a pre-built solution?