Twilio Video

Build or buy? Engage customers better with the perfect video solution

  • Jessica Palay
    Jessica Palay
  • Dec 12, 2020

Not sure whether to build or buy your video solution? Here's what you know need to know before you decide.

Adjust text size

From game nights with friends to check-ups with our doctors, the pandemic has shifted more of our daily activities to digital-first experiences via video.

In the short term, many businesses made do with overnight fixes to keep themselves and the public safe.

But as video communications become increasingly entrenched in our lives, and more consumers recognize its ease and convenience, their staying power will endure even once it’s safer to return to in-person services—and that requires strategic thinking about the future of video for your business.

By the end of this year, 84 percent of companies expect to have video communication options available to customers. More than 75 percent of hospitals already have or are developing telehealth programs to connect with patients, while major brands like Facebook are trying to set their video experiences apart through interactive gamification features like polls and quizzes.

It’s clear video is a must for engaging customers—but how do you know what platform is right for you?

When implementing video for customer engagement, there are two paths to consider: should you buy a video solution that simply checks the boxes of what you need today, or will you invest in building one that’s tailored to your long-term goals?

Both have pros and cons: buying often provides a low barrier to getting up and running, but comes with a lack of customization and differentiation; building means you get to create a solution that precisely meets your needs and represents your brand, but also requires a more involved and strategic development process.

To help you make this choice, here are the key factors to consider when choosing the video solution for the future of your business.

Speed and efficiency

For consumers, video isn’t just about safety—it’s also about eliminating travel time, making their essential services more accessible, and fitting tasks into a complicated schedule. When you purchase an out-of-the-box video solution, you gain immediate access to customers you wouldn’t otherwise reach.

Problems arise, though, when you try to change things. A canned solution gets running quickly, but that time savings is often lost in the inefficient, manual processes your team is forced to do to add any level of customization.

In reality, building isn’t always as time-consuming as you might assume. The speed at which you’ll get up-and-running depends on how you approach the task.

When experienced developer Enrique Rodriguez was building the Together app, he initially started creating a video solution from scratch using WebRTC—the industry standard for building real-time communication apps.

But he quickly found that carrying out the entire process himself would be time-intensive and difficult to scale, so he sought out Twilio’s Video Platform API. Since the infrastructure and services he needed were already in place thanks to the API, he was able to speed past the hassles of development and get a working video call running within minutes.

So while building might require a little more effort upfront, the choice to start from scratch or use an API also plays a crucial role—but ultimately, both create an increased capacity for iteration and growth.


When you purchase a video solution, you get worry-free access to an established system, and often a small range of customization options like making your logo appear on-screen. For some uses, this is more than enough.

Your customers, though, might expect more, like a seamless brand experience across every interaction. Building a video solution lets you embed video functionality directly into your existing app, keeping customers and clients exactly where you want them to be while offering a suite of options that set you apart.

With the increased popularity of video communication there comes increased competition, and most marketers agree customer experience has become the key battleground for winning and keeping business today.

That means you should understand the kind of unique, streamlined experience your customers are looking for, and how that need can be met through video.

Experimenting with new ideas through a custom-built platform can be invaluable—like how Air Tutors developed a unique system that allows a teacher and students to use an interactive, on-screen whiteboard. These kinds of innovations help to provide a differentiated experience that will resonate with users and keep them engaged.

Multi-channel features

By now, consumers expect a video solution to offer basic multi-channel communication features like in-platform text chat, phone dial-in, and more. Most of the ones your business can purchase will come with a range of these features baked-in, but oftentimes you’ll be limited to what’s already available with no opportunity to iterate or expand.

With a custom solution, you can offer those essential features that customers expect while developing and incorporating new ones that fit your specialized needs. Demand is increasing for video to exist as one piece of a broader customer experience, and large companies like MDLIVE have seen an incredible impact from the ability to seamlessly integrate features like telephony services and SMS alerts alongside a custom-built video solution.

So, what’s right for you?

The decision really comes down to one major question: do you want to prioritize short-term convenience, or long-term possibility?

If a small range of features and easy set-up are all you’re looking for, then buying a video solution might be your best option. If you want to be able to customize, improve, and connect your video experience to a variety of other features and cloud-connected services, then building is the way to go.

Share our free 1:1 video app toolkit with your development team.

Request a demo

If you want to learn more about the benefits of developing a custom video solution, request a demo today.

Learn More
I want to see more about: 
  • Editions
  • Industry
  • Product
  • Region
  • Solution
  • Use case
Communication for good | Spring 2021
  • Communication for good | Spring 2021
  • COVID-19 and the new normal | Winter 2020
  • Digital trust | Summer 2021
  • Pre-SIGNAL special | Fall 2021
  • Retail in 2021 | Summer 2021
Let's go
Jessica Palay

Jessica Palay

Jessica Palay is a Product Marketing Manager at Twilio for Programmable Voice.

Jessica holds a MSc. in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford where she examined how communities react, respond, and incorporate new technologies into their lives. This academic expertise, combined with her tech sales and marketing experience, makes her acutely attuned to how new communication technologies impact the way that people and businesses interact, transact, and form relationships.

3 ways to future-proof your video solution

In 2021, it’s clear video is here to stay—but keeping users satisfied with your video offering will require greater differentiation. Organizations are moving past “band-aid” fixes for virtual connection to more thoughtful and innovative experiences, with a focus on serving consumer needs for years to come.

Jessica Palay