Research and analysis firms: build an in-house publishing platform or outsource? (Part one)

In a competitive digital market place, business information publishers who can serve customers with timely and authoritative research, data, and analysis are at a competitive advantage even before a quality assessment is made of their content.

If you can add to that a suite of intuitive, user-friendly tools that make interactions simple and quick, the advantage grows further still.

So, how does a business information publisher achieve all that? Well, it really boils down to the quality of the publishing platform they choose.

Whether they develop an in-house capability or opt for an outsourced solution might not immediately seem like a choice critical in the matter, but it is – and here’s why:

Cost implications

Perhaps the most critical consideration when weighing up whether to develop an in-house system or outsource is cost. No publishing platform – in-house or otherwise – will ever be finished, they are in continual development; so why would any analysis or research firm want to burden itself with developing a proprietary system that requires them to keep pace with the rapid progression of technology?

Outsourcing removes initial capital expenditure; externalises the costs associated with development risks, updates, and over-runs; and ensures the best quality technology is always available for a fixed price. Outsourcing also allows for cost certainty, accurate budgeting, and the freeing-up of capital for use on other opportunities.


What is the fundamental role of a research or an analysis organisation? In such a competitive market, the role certainly isn’t as a software developer and ecommerce business – so why waste time and complicate your business by focusing on anything other than your core competencies?

Running a large internal development team solely for your publishing platform should be seen for what it is: a costly distraction from your main business.

So why not free up your savvy IT director to use their resources in a way that instead helps you gain that competitive advantage? Outsourcing your publishing platform can give you the flexibility and agility to respond to critical opportunities.

Time to market

One of the common misconceptions about building a unique in-house system is that it will deliver the publishing firm’s exact requirements and fulfil their customers’ unique expectations – this isn’t necessarily so.

Your end-users are likely to already have experienced the high-quality publishing platforms used by other providers and expectations will be set, accordingly, to a high-bench mark.

A research or analysis firm that wants to provide an equally high standard of user experience is likely to soon find itself bogged down in never-ending development hell with technology that is rapidly becoming old.

Even basic in-house amendments could routinely take four to six months, meaning the ability of your system could regularly fall behind that of your competitors. In addition, all the coding tweaks will become increasingly difficult to manage.

Deploying an outsourced solution will cut down on implementation time and ensure industry-leading user and publisher experiences, as well as allowing research and analysis firms to publish reports quickly and easily.

What’s more, as tech upgrades are in continuous development, little space is left for a gap to develop between the capabilities of your platform and what is expected of it by its user base.

What else?

Plenty: future proofing, sales impact, end-user service impact, control and reliability – but we’ll deal with all those issues in Part Two, which we’ll publish in the coming weeks…