August 31, 2020

Build vs Buy: Build Chat from Scratch or Jumpstart with a Chat API and SDK

Manpreet Kalsi

Have you been thinking about building chat, and trying to determine whether to build your chat from the ground up or use an API or SDK chat to build your chat?

Creating your chat, as you might expect, takes a tremendous amount of time, money, thinking critically about the company priorities and factors of customer engagement.

You are most likely to assess your choices and proceed forward with a chat solution that makes the most sense to your interests, based on your use case, budget limitations, and business goals.

Now imagine that you've been confronted with a situation - introducing a messaging feature to your app! You've only got two options- first is to create your chat, second is to use an API and SDK. 

Now let's take a step back before you make the call.

How to build a chat platform? 

Online messaging is abundant, and smartphones are constantly adding messaging tools to satisfy customer demand. There are several examples: some live streaming broadcasts integrate large community conversations with their audience, e-commerce applications and marketplaces become communicative exchange forums, and in-app chatting is also used in computer games and social media as a core element. 

Now before you invest in creating a chat platform for yourself, you need to keep investments in mind -  

Financial investment and Time taken

While planning your financial investment, make sure to cost-compare. Before diving into the build vs. buy analysis, it's necessary to understand cost immediately as it will inflict any comparison between building chat and purchasing an API and SDK. Here are two examples of how the numbers involved are animated.

Example Total Ownership Expense- Conversational Banking

According to an analysis performed, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a multinational bulge bracket. The bank decided to create a customer-scale, mobile conversational banking operation. It was concluded that $1 million will be in-house chat production, $2 million in repair and improvement costs, and $2.6 million in service costs would've been overall.

Developing an in-house communication app

Even though it can sound easy at first sight, building a chat in-house is getting more difficult as the strategic targets of a company are concerned, such as associating capital with a particular customer target to meet important market milestones.

Besides, it needs a comprehensive study assessing the design and engineering capital expended for messaging in project ROI perspective particularly when it occurs at the expense of its core content opportunity cost. 

When business executives lack the perspective of maximum cost control, they can be quickly understated.

Vital considerations and Tech stack

The accessible tech stack also determines how to design a chat app, and what features you can install. Let's explore which technology will help you create a chat app that enamors users from first use.


Safety features are vitally critical when developing a chat app. There are a few ways of creating a chat app with a higher degree of protection.

WhatsApp is the first perfect example of security. WhatsApp collaborated with Open Whispers networks to create a messaging app that doesn't hinder customer privacy. This collaboration helped the company develop an end-to-end encryption scheme that secures all correspondence occurring within the program. Not even WhatsApp can decode the messages sent through the app.

Push notifications 

Would you like to know how to build a chat app for consumers to enjoy navigating? Notification will help turn you into some of the most devoted one-time customers. When creating an app for chat, think about push alerts as a must for your solution.


Cloud integration is one means of separating the software from its rivals. With cloud storage, all documents are shared between various computers, including text messages, images, and other media data. What's more, cloud syncing is available if a user drops a laptop and needs to get back their results.

Well planned back-end 

The solution's implementation should be designed and applied within the first stages of chat app development. When creating a chat app, you need to realize that a lot of data like text messages, photographs, images, and files of all kinds would need to be processed and saved in the program.

Build vs Buy: Factors to take into consideration while deciding whether to in-house or get 3rd party solution 

1. Estimate costs and development resources

The first key criterion to determine how to incorporate chat is to consider the existing development team's potential and consider how much it would cost to build up.

Making applications in an area you're unfamiliar with can trigger unexpected difficulties, high costs, and can dampen business growth.

Usually developing a simple chat would cost a developer alone from $300k – $500k everywhere, assuming a team of 6 – 8 skilled developers can work for 2-3 months.

If you are a big company that wishes to build chat as an extensible shared feature, then the need for capital amplifies because chat will enable the team to work together across multiple product departments, coordinate objectives across the needs of multiple teams, and, eventually, incorporate across multiple products. 

In other words, creating chat for your business will not exist in a bubble, as in the previous calculation, but would slash through several departments and product roadmaps instead.

In addition to development tools, you can also take into account expenses for production platforms, servers, and infrastructure to build and operate a high-scale application, installation, and servicing, and constant operating costs to maintain the chat service up-to-date with changing user needs.

Here's the bottom line – if you don't have at least a few seasoned chat developers working on your chat project, you may want to think about having a chat API and SDK so you can create up on top of the chat experiences.

2. Assessing the risks of build or buy

The second key piece of the decision to build vs buy is chance. Risk can come in several forms: business risk, time-to-market, reach, data, protection, etc.

It’s essential that you are thinking about a few such questions:

  • Would you want to go-to-market with an easy chat interface, or a convincing interface equivalent to the leading messengers that consumers love?
  • How fast does the talk in your application need to be up and running to keep the company competitive?
  • What if you found a flaw in the chat app – how easily would you be able to repair it in-house vs. making a developer team repair it without affecting the customer experience?
  • If you want your chat data to be saved on your database, or would you trust a third party to save data on their database?

In any scenario, you want responses to these questions and the risk for your company – calculated in time-to-market, protection, or product roadmap.

3. Determine the project’s scope and the required customization

The final and most critical part of making this decision is to consider the company priorities and project scope and foresee the unique features required.

Leading messaging applications go deeper than common features like 1-on-1 messaging and party chat.

They have advanced functions such as read-receipts, communications using organized data; ability to deliver emojis, images, audio, video as thumbnails that can be displayed in a user interface; chatbot integration, filtering and SPAM security, data aggregation and collaboration with other API's.

4. Examine existing 3rd party messaging SDKs

Particularly if the businesses have a group of experienced individuals, a 3rd party approach is likely to offer the right long-term ROI because of the saving levers obtained from:

  • The retailer is responsible for upgrading the commodity to state-of-the-art and more new technology
  • The seller is responsible for the identification and prevention of any potential fraud
  • The manufacturer is responsible for updating the facilities as the amount of use and customer base rise
  • The provider who supports data migration should be quick and inexpensive for your data and messages migration from existing solution

Numerous services like Cometchat that help you easily add in-app messaging functionality with the use of their APIs and SDKs.

Wrapping up 

Current in-app messaging systems, such as CometChat, will help a project incorporate trained in-app messaging with the whole kit from the front-end UI to the back end. 

Companies will then concentrate on the core market and reduce the time and expense of designing and managing chat functionality.

CometChat handles anything out-of-the-box described in this article and you can get started with us for free! Visit now