With organizations racing to put more generative AI tools in users\u2019 hands\u2014and software vendors rapidly integrating those tools into their products\u2014CIOs face a familiar choice: develop their own solutions in house, or invest and adapt tools already available in a fast-growing AI marketplace. \n\nYet it\u2019s not a simple build-vs.-buy question, says Prakash Ramamurthy, chief product officer at Freshworks. CIOs should take a build and buy approach to accelerate gen AI adoption and capture the value it brings to their business.\n\nIt\u2019s an approach, says Ramamurthy, that many CIOs already take with broader tech strategy: Build the solutions that provide competitive advantage to your business, and outsource the rest. Of course, gen AI is no panacea. \n\n\u201cDon\u2019t look at gen AI as a hammer looking for a nail,\u201d says Ramamurthy. \u201cLook at it as the extra boost to solve the problems you already have.\u201d\n\nThe case for building\n\nEnthusiasm for AI is now universal among IT leaders. Foundry\u2019s 2023 AI Priorities study found interest in a broad range of gen AI use cases, including chatbots and virtual assistants (56%), content generation (55%), industry-specific applications (48%), data augmentation (46%), and personalized recommendations (39%).\n\nHowever, AI skills are in short supply, and expertise in the gen AI space is even more scarce. That\u2019s why it\u2019s important to focus internal AI development on core business needs, says Ramamurthy. \u201cTake your scarce resources and apply AI to your domain of expertise,\u201d he explains. \n\nFor a manufacturing company, this could mean focusing gen AI initiatives on reducing risk in production plants or improving supply chain efficiencies. For example, AI can optimize production planning and scheduling, even for complex manufacturing processes. It can quickly process and analyze a wide variety of data for material availability, production capacity, and customer demand to recommend the best scheduling plan.\n\nIn a pharmaceutical company, AI can accelerate drug development through the identification of key proteins, or turbocharge drug design by speeding up the ability to generate complex molecular structures.\n\n\u201cIf it\u2019s not your core business competency \u2013 the things that you wake up every morning thinking about \u2013 then you shouldn\u2019t be building it yourself,\u201d Ramamurthy says. Any distraction from developing and delivering your core product or service, regardless of industry, can waste resources and opportunities. Organizations need to be laser-focused on expanding their customer base and growing their business, and not pivot to try to become a software development company if it is not already their core expertise, he adds. \n\nThe case for buying\n\nA narrow development focus does not mean that IT leaders should bypass the opportunity to embrace gen AI across the rest of their IT architecture. Virtually every vendor or service provider is looking for ways to build gen AI into their solutions. IT leaders should challenge existing vendors to deliver AI capabilities quickly \u2013 or find new vendors that can. \n\n\u201cGen AI can supercharge your solutions, so you need to find vendors that can deliver the shortest time to value,\u201d Ramamurthy says. \u201cPick the ones that have done a disproportionate amount of AI investment in the solutions they\u2019re building.\u201d \n\nRespondents to the Foundry AI Priorities Study said they\u2019re already seeing good results from the gen AI capabilities vendors have added to existing applications, including productivity tools (86% see a positive impact), security (84%), and marketing\/sales apps (82%). \n\nA build-and-buy strategy ensures that IT teams can focus on supporting their organization\u2019s main business without draining internal time and resources, while still gaining access to turbo-charged capabilities across the entire IT stack.\n\n\u201cYou need to embrace gen AI aggressively,\u201d Ramamurthy says. \u201cLook at ways to use AI to hypercharge your core competencies. But do not confuse that with your ability to do superhuman things in areas that are not your expertise. In those areas, evaluate vendors with proven gen AI solutions that provide quick value for you.\u201d\n\nFor more insights about innovating with AI, visit\u00a0The Works.