23 Jul 2014

Customization vs. Configuration: What’s the Difference?

So, you want to roll out a new product and better compete with the over the top (OTT) players who are encroaching on your market share. You’re looking for , and you’re thinking a customized solution may best meet your unique needs.

Think again. What you likely need is a solution that’s configured to meet your unique business and service requirements, not a customized solution. What’s the difference? Time, money and flexibility.

Customization refers to any added functionality to a product that is not included in the out-of-the-box installation of that product. It usually involves change to existing code or creation of new code.

Configuration refers to the way a solution (hardware or software) is set up. Any solution will require some level of configuration to deploy, and in our world that means putting operating systems and databases on it, determining different types of drop-down menus, and so on. But the underlying platform is pre-integrated with most of the capabilities you need to get started. What changes is the specific deployment configuration.

There are three main reasons a solution that is easily configured makes more sense than a customized one:

1)      Speed to market: A solution that’s pre-integrated and only needs to be configured based on your requirements can be deployed in weeks, not months and years. And let’s face it, the quicker you can launch new products, the sooner you’ll begin signing on new subscribers and generating revenue. That’s especially important in an age when OTT players are moving quickly with their own deployments. Some of our customers have seen their time to market for new products reduced by as much as 70 percent.

2)      Cost: If you’ve ever had a suit custom-made, you know there’s a premium to be paid for something that’s made-to-order. The same suit off the rack—with some expert tailoring—can give you the same quality at a much lower price. You’re getting exactly what you need, but at a price point that makes sense. Configuration also decreases the time it takes to get a return on your investment.

3)      Flexibility: When you customize capabilities for a specific product, you’re only taking into account the requirements of that single product. Customization may lock you in to things that are expensive to change down the road. Configuration, however, means changes are simple and can be made quickly.

With both time and cost to market key factors in the success of a new product introduction, configuration—not customization—is the way to go.

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