Development14 min read

Custom app development vs ready-made app for artificial intelligence

Jakub Turkowski

Technical Content Writer

It’s super exciting when you think of your new product with Artificial Intelligence. But you need to know a few things before you start. Namely, you need to decide if you would like to have a custom solution or use an existing one – kind of like grabbing a product from the shelf. There are pros and cons to each option, so it’s not like one is definitely better than the other. It’s about meeting your needs and expectations (yes, we are also talking about your budget now). Let us walk you through this topic, so you will get the bigger picture and know more about both solutions.

What is AI and what you need to know about it

You may think of humanoid robots when you hear the term ‘AI’, but this is not entirely true. We are still years (or decades) away from seeing the visions from sci-fi movies in reality. Artificial Intelligence is more about systems. A system that can recognize patterns, perform tasks, and upgrade its performance in time. To make the story short – AI has some traits of a human-like way of thinking. Add to that the natural language processing and there you have it – it’s the AI solution. Of course, this is a very general description, but it’s helpful in understanding what AI is.

AI solutions – how can they help your business?

Is it worth it to invest in AI solutions? Well, of course it is. Here are some numbers, if you want to see the potential – according to, the AI market size and revenue is now around 52 700 000 000 USD, and it’s going to be twice as much in 2024. It’s definitely worth investing and getting there to take your share.

AI is not a new science branch, it’s been around since the 1950s. Honestly, it has become powerful (and not so expensive) recently, so no wonder that the AI is being used in applications. We are living in a digital world now, so the sooner you start developing your new AI application, the sooner you will start gaining profit from it. You may ask now about some examples of how AI can be used and be beneficial. Here they are:

  • Conversational AI – don’t say you have never experienced a conversation with a bot
    (i.e.: chatbot or virtual assistant). Of course, the experience depends on how well was the AI chatbot programmed, but definitely these solutions are very helpful – they shorten the time needed to get the desired info (and they don’t take a day-off or sick-leave).
  • Predictive AI algorithms – we could say that Netflix is a good example. But we have a better example – a predictive AI that helps you invest in cryptocurrencies. See more info about CryptoHawk here (link do case study).
  • Personalization AI – well, this does not need a more profound explanation. It’s simple – customers are happy and satisfied, when they receive a tailored-to-needs product or service.

These examples are just a few of many. AI is useful also in terms of improving productivity, analyzing large volumes of data, and increasing conversion rates. Let’s go a little deeper and present details about the typical technologies that are used in AI-powered applications. Read on and find out.

Custom AI – typical technologies

We already mentioned AI solutions in terms of how they can support your business. Let’s take a closer look at this topic – you could use some examples to get better understanding. Here are the typical AI technologies and what they are used for:

  • Natural Language Processing (the so-called NLP) – document processing, chatbots, text mining, machine translations.
  • Speech recognition – voice search assistants, language learning (see our Beespeaker case study here), speech-to-text dictation apps.
  • Video & image analysis – automated moderation of video content (i.e.: TikTok, Facebook), monitoring and inspection on production lines, facial or object detection.
  • Decision-making – risk management, fraud detection, compliance, credit control.
  • Recommendation – travel apps, video streams (i.e.: Netflix), social media.
  • Predictions – sales forecasting, planning production, optimizing decisions and processes.

You see, the game is worth the candle. Now the essential questions emerge – which option should you choose? What are the pros and cons of custom AI development and the grab-and-go solution?

Custom AI software - what are the pros?

Well, definitely developing your own, custom AI tool has many benefits. What you need to be aware of, is the fact that choosing this path requires time (and resources). It is because this option involves creating algorithms and APIs as well. Still, you get exactly what you (or to be more precise – what your users) need. Of course, there’s more to that. Read on.

Custom AI software – no redundant features

If you are a skilled and experienced engineer, picking the right ready-made software is not so hard. If you are a business decision-maker, choosing the off-the-shelf software is really a challenge. In both cases, you will probably end up with a product that has more features than you need. And still – you have to pay for them, even though you won’t use them. Not cool, right?

When you decide to create custom AI software – you get exactly what you want and what you pay for. Yes, nothing more, nothing less. So, even if you think at first glance that custom AI software is more expensive, the truth is that you don’t pay for unnecessary features. And that is why choosing a custom AI option should be considered as a saving.

Custom AI software – integrations and further development

Are you considering integrations with existing products? Well, then creating a custom AI software is the way to go for you. Of course, some ready-made software products can successfully integrate with other products, but there’s a high chance that this task will fail. This may happen because of lack of support for specific integrations or because your project does not cover the scope. When you decide to create custom AI software – you have control over these aspects. And we mean full control – and that is a true advantage.

Custom AI software – you own it, literally

If you plan to develop your product and then sell it, this point is crucial. Custom AI software products are simply yours. You are entitled to do whatever you want with them. This does not apply to the grab-and-go products. You cannot sell the technology to the third-party – in case you have chosen to get yourself a software product off-the-shelf. So, if developing an AI product for sale is the core of your business, you should consider creating a custom AI software. You know, it seems obvious, but there are the intellectual property laws and other things you should be aware of – in case you plan to sell the technology to someone else. You do not plan to sell it? That’s fine because you still have all the rights for the product after the development phase is over. It is up to you what to do next (upgrade, scale, or something else).

Custom AI software – specialized data and testing

If you’re planning to make a product that can solve one of the most common problems of your potential clients/users, there’s probably something out there in the market that already does that. So, why invent the wheel again? But in case your AI software is meant to process specialized data, picking a ready-made software will not be the best choice. The point is – you need a custom AI software that offers output well-suited to a specific business problem.

Moreover, the testing we mentioned is about achieving outstanding performance, not only about providing remarkable user experience. If your AI-powered tool is supposed to process specific data sets, the testing is going to cover that. If you choose the off-the-shelf software, you cannot expect that it will be adjusted in terms of performance.

Custom application development

Custom AI software – stay ahead of the game

Staying ahead of the competition is for sure one of your goals. So, when you decide to stick with a ready-made software (that is also used by your competitors), how can you compete? The other players are also using the same tool, so it is really unlikely that you can distinguish yourself from the crowd. What makes innovative companies so successful? It’s simple – they look for new ways to solve problems, and this translates to custom, cutting-edge solutions. These solutions are different from other solutions – they’re tailor-made products. So, if you want to stay ahead of your competition, you need to create something new. Oh, and there’s one more thing – you don’t have to pay any fees for your custom AI software product – in terms of subscriptions, etc.

Custom AI software – what are the cons?

There are numerous advantages when choosing a custom AI software development, no doubt about that. However, there are also disadvantages, and you should be aware of them. Here’s a list of cons, so you will get the big picture.

Custom AI software – entry costs, level: high

This is actually a true problem, if you do not have domain experts in your team – in terms of the need of learning the know-how. But hey – you should not consider it as a big challenge. We have the pros. Moreover, we can either take care of everything or just provide you with the right people (yes, we have Staff Augmentation among our offers). So, the relatively high costs are an issue for those, who would like to create a custom AI software on their own.

Custom AI software – regulatory requirements

You’re into finances and banking? There might be specific regulations in place that require organizations to keep sensitive data on-premises. If this is a case for you, you should rather follow the path of creating a solution in-house. Of course, the regulations are very specific for each industry. It may happen that the grab-and-go software has what it takes and is more affordable than custom development options. So, do the research first and then you will see what works better for you.

Custom AI software – the costs of hosting

If this is your first time in creating a custom AI software, don’t forget about the hosting cost. You know, the application you are about to create needs some processing capacity. A pro tip – this is going to be a significant amount. Moreover, we mean both cloud-based services and physical hardware stuff. To put it simply – your app will need to handle a massive AI workload (you expect thousands of users, or even more, don’t you?). Each project needs separate estimates in this field. But again – don’t worry, we can help you with that as well!

Ready-made AI app – what are the pros?

AI-powered applications are nothing new, so it’s not like you don’t have a choice when it comes to the off-the-shelf AI software. There are plenty of these out there, so you can check if something suits your needs. Also, as there is a quite massive load of ready-made AI apps, most of them have a huge community around them. This is a big plus, and it’s not only one. Let’s take a closer look at the pros of ready-made AI software.

Ready-made AI software – time to market factor

Do you have tight deadlines and full schedules in your organization? Well, the custom AI software development process takes time. If you don’t have the time to go through the whole custom development cycle, you should do the research in the ready-made apps market. The same goes if you don’t have the time in terms of having a specific AI functionality very fast. Compared to the time frame needed for developing custom AI software, the adjusting of a ready-made app takes a blink of an eye (or two). By this, we mean it takes days or weeks, so it is relatively fast.

Ready-made AI software – development costs, level: low

Building your new custom AI software from scratch will cost more than a ready-made software. That is basically all in this topic. Just do the thorough research before you make your decision. It may happen that you will find a relevant ready-made AI application that suits your needs. If not – follow the custom AI app development path.

Ready-made AI software - works well for generic cases

Ready-made AI software – works well for generic cases

Generic use cases are the thing for you? Well, then you will probably pick something from the ready-made AI app market. There are plenty of products that will do fine. Among these are: Microsoft Azure AI and Amazon Web Services. What can you find there?

Ready-made AI software – Microsoft Azure AI

In this package you will find a few really useful things. For example, Azure Cognitive Services and Bot Service – they have pre built models. These are Azure Cognitive Search, Form Recognizer, Azure Databricks, Azure Machine Learning, and Azure AI Infrastructure. Lots of these, right? Well, no wonder, as Azure Cognitive services are in use in many Microsoft products – like Xbox or Bing search.

Ready-made AI software – Amazon Web Services

Another big player has some powerful tools to play with, like: Amazon Personalize, Amazon Comprehend, Amazon Rekognition, and other pre-trained AI Services. Without getting into details, you should know that AWS products are in use by well-known brands, like Netflix or Siemens. This said, you have really a lot of ready-made AI software options that can meet your expectations and needs.

Ready-made AI software – take the client’s seat

The truth is that you don’t have to worry about the maintenance of software. This matter is completely on the vendor’s side. So, you just slip to the comfortable client’s seat and watch how the product works, as well as check if the provisions from the SLA are correct. That’s convenient, isn’t it?

Ready-made AI app – what are the cons?

That’s natural, there are disadvantages. The key is to know all the pros and cons of each option, and we will gladly show you what you can expect in this matter. Read on please, here are the cons:

Ready-made AI software – control over costs

As we mentioned before, the development costs are around nothing, you just need to pay for the subscription of the ready-made software. And this is true. But what you need to check is whether you have to pay extra for the amount of processed data or not. It happens sometimes that the actual cost depends on this factor, so you may end up with a situation where your fee is not as high as you need. Be sure to check this matter before picking a ready-made AI software, or your ROI may be in danger.

Ready-made AI software – vendor tactics and vendor lock-in

What you need to know about this topic is that specific vendors may aim to make their customers dependent on their products and services. In practice, this means that switching to another vendor can be very difficult or excessively too expensive. Especially when there will be the need for large-scale refactoring.

Ready-made AI software – specialized data

Machine learning can be very helpful and provide valuable output to specific use cases. But before that happens, you need to feed it first. Usually, with your own data sets. What is also vital, you need to ensure that the prediction level is high, before you launch the product. Yeah, sure, natural language processing already works well in ready-made AI apps, but keep in mind that you need to put a lot of effort in machine learning beforehand, or you will encounter a problem with low-quality predictions for specific data cases.

Custom app development vs ready-made app for AI – what to choose?

There is only one correct answer – ‘it depends’. You see, it’s all about two things – your budget and your specific use case. Of course, you can already see that there are numerous factors you should consider, but you know what? We are experts with over a decade of experience, trust us – at the end of the day it’s about money and specific needs. The rest is theory, and we have really good news – we can help you pick the right option for you and help along the way. Both solutions have their pros and cons. You have specific needs and specific budgets. We have the right  people – and this means: expertise, skills, and tools. Drop us a line or schedule a meeting with our expert – let’s talk it through.

Jakub Turkowski

Technical Content Writer

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