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Twilio CEO: Forget build vs buy, it’s build or die

The question of build vs buy was the fundamental question posed, framed and postulated by Jeff Lawson in his role as CEO of Twilio during a keynote address delivered at this year’s Mobile World Congress — the firm is known for its cloud communications platform PaaS for building SMS, voice & messaging applications.

Lawson‘s (and, hence, Twilio’s answer) is clear: out of the box solutions will no longer cut it.  

Ch-ch-ch no changes

“When you buy software,” says Lawson, “The first step is an RFP. Then the vendor selection process, then implementation and then… well, nothing. If you want to make changes, you have to go back and repeat the process all over again. “

But software people think differently he agues.

Being a software person is a mindset, not a skillset.

Catalysed by the rise of the smartphone, we are starting to digitise the entire world. So, the software mindset is invading every single market.

Software people preserve agility

“Behind cloud applications is a new kind of infrastructure, unlike anything that existed a decade ago. Now, cloud platforms are enabling software developers to build applications at unprecedented speed and flexibility. They’re global, scalable, cost effective – and perfect for when you’re just getting started. No more huge budgets and timelines,” said Lawson.

His argument is that cloud platforms are changing every part of the software stack: compute, payments, maps, storage, communications.

Platforms are making it easier than ever before for developers to test ideas. This is the essence of software and it’s happening faster than ever.

In order to differentiate yourself in the mind of your customers, you MUST be building. By definition, you cannot buy differentiation: the only way to have differentiation is to BUILD it. Companies that can adapt most quickly to the changing needs of consumers will be the ones that survive,” said Lawson.

The conclusion here then? 

The decision is not build or buy – it’s build or die.

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We are a user of Twilio's call platform. A number of developers have modified the platform for resale, adding their own unique take on core functionalities to adapt to specific market needs. More of this kind of adaptive reuse will get products to market even faster.
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