I love it when CTO’s and technology leaders take pride in their work. They believe they can do anything and many times they are absolutely right! 

A tech leader with a unique understanding of a company’s customer base coupled with the unique strengths of the organization is in a great position to create innovation that cannot be built by anybody else.

There are sometimes though when technology teams take this philosophy too far. They believe they can build EVERYTHING their company needs.  They don’t trust or respect third party companies that possess a deep understanding of a particular type of technology solution because it “was not invented here.”  Because of their ignorance, arrogance, insecurity or budget constraints, some internal technology teams try to build every type of technology regardless of the skillset of the internal team.

Here’s a great case in point.  The airline industry….

I have been using GoGo Inflight Internet services since its inception several years ago. Through hard work and a steep learning curve, they perfected their service to a point where it had a ton of unique advantages:

  • Interoperability – just about every major airline was offering them so you could buy one subscription and have just about universal airline Internet service
  • Speed – their service got to a point where it delivered content quickly, downloaded email and let you interface with file sharing services like Google Drive and Dropbox seamlessly
  • Reliability – in the early days, they struggled a bit with this, but as the service matured they were highly reliable. When you got to 10,000 feet GoGo was there to service your needs.
  • Affordability – for frequent travelers like me, GoGo allowed you to purchase a monthly unlimited plan.
  • Transparency/Customer-Centricity – GoGo reached out to me via survey about every 3rd flight to ask me about the speed, reliability and overall effectiveness of their service.

Now let’s look at what American Airlines, as an example is doing today.

They somehow believe that they can deliver inflight Internet service themselves better than a company that dedicated all of its development resources to creating one center of excellence can.  Guess what…. they were wrong.  Here’s what the inflight service on American Airlines looks like today:

Unreliable – there has been no wireless service on the last 5 flights I have been on, even though I was travelling on some of American’s newest airplanes. As a million miler, Platinum American travel, it is negatively affecting my brand loyalty.  Was taking the service inhouse even though the GoGo service was working well really worth it?   There’s much more at stake than just my experience with wireless.  I have begun to travel on other airlines more frequently now.  Business travelers are the most profitable customer segment for airlines. Why mess with one of the most important services we count on to stay productive on business trips!

No interoperability – now if you want to buy American inflight service you have to purchase it just from that airline. Want United inflight service?  More fees. No standard subscription is available anymore. There goes another piece of customer satisfaction.

Speed – without being able to get online I can’t even give you feedback on the speed of the service.

Transparency/Customer-Centricity – I have not received one request for feedback on the new Inflight Internet service American just launched.  No customer-centricity anymore.

Think about your business.  Have there been times when you’ve been held back on providing the best service you can because you refuse to admit that you are not well-suited to build and deploy the software yourself?

Have there been times when your CTO tells you they can build it even though there are readily available options on the market that leverage the latest in technology efficiencies?   What is the opportunity cost of tying up your internal team on something that could be outsourced?

Have you ever experienced a time when it took your company a whole lot longer than you thought it would to deploy a new system because your team did not know what you did not know until they got into it?

Have you ever delivered sub-par service to your customers that had a negative impact on your business because you thought you could save a few dollars? Remember that even open source software managed and hosted by your internal team is NOT free.  When internal resources are tied up focusing on something that could be deployed more quickly/easily from a third party source, you are distracting your internal team from what they do best.

If you’re struggling to know what your team should focus on and what is better outsourced, we have a great technology consulting team led by David Gumpper, former CTO of Michael Saunders and Company to help you work through these important decisions.

And if you agree that Americans in-flight Internet can be better, please share this article on Social Media and tag it with American Airlines.