The Fifth Elephant 2023 Winter

The Fifth Elephant 2023 Winter

On the engineering and business implications of AI & ML



Anuj Gupta

Anuj Gupta


"Build vs Buy" - It is not this vs that! Instead, in AI, always Buy then Build

Submitted Sep 15, 2023

A common dilemma for teams or executives is - to “build internally” or “buy from outside”. In software, both strategies have their own pros n cons. However, when it comes to AI, while the reasoning is much more convoluted, the answer is very simple - always Buy before Build!

In this talk, I will argue that when it comes to AI it is not a question of this or that. Instead Buy before Build in AI should be the default answer for most organizations.

I will further argue that this is a great strategy, even if you have a great AI team internally! Contrary to most AI leaders’ opinions who resist “buying” AI solutions from outside and prefer to “build” since they not only see “external solution” as a threat to their charter but also “buying from outside” as a question mark on their n their AI team’s ability.

I will show why this is a very wrong thinking and how a smart AI leader can leverage the “external AI solution” to eventually “build a great internal AI solution” that is not only technically superior but also economically viable.

The only case where this does not make sense is - if you are an “AI first” organization i.e. organization where the “AI product” in question is the primary offering itself.


  1. Why when it comes to AI (unlike traditional software/IT) it is not a question of Build vs Buy
  2. The answer is always buy before build for most organizations
  3. Understand the reasoning and pros/cons of this
  4. Understand why the line of reasoning does not apply to “AI first” organizations.



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