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Off-the-shelf, or custom AI — Which is better for your business?

The adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for business benefits is a widely prevalent practice today.

Image courtesy Ascend Agency
Image courtesy Ascend Agency

The content featured in this article is brand produced.

The adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for business benefits is a widely prevalent practice today. In 2021, 14 percent of companies were reported to have integrated AI capabilities in their existing IT infrastructure. 

Though developing individual artificial intelligence processes is supremely challenging, organizations have two major options when it comes to adopting AI:

  • Off-the-shelf AI 
  • Custom AI. 

Let us see which one is more suitable for your business. 

What is off-the-shelf AI?

Off the shelf AI, otherwise called “AI on tap”, “productize AI”, or “AI-as-a-Service (AIaaS)”, is a set of specific algorithms designed to perform certain tasks. It is a third-party developed turnkey, artificial intelligence solution. Due to their out-of-the-box built models, it can be used even for small businesses. 

When is the best time to use off-the-shelf AI?

There are numerous situations where business owners make use of off-the-shelf AI. Whenever you want to upgrade your business to a fully automated one within a limited budget, AI must be the solution to that. There are many AI applications available in the market on a subscription basis. All you have to do is install the already prepared AI software. Though AI development is difficult, there is no mandatory requirement for previous technical experience to install and deploy the AI application. Providing a highly efficient, user-friendly experience is their typical feature. Using off-the-shelf AI solutions will free you from hassle bonded to the organization and AI project management. Also, by using AI solutions, you can utilize free trials and evaluate the product reviews and more. In this way, you will get the hang of it before going in with full power. 

When not to use off-the-shelf AI?

Now let’s examine the situations where using readymade AI is not the best option. As AI is a pre-built application, it may not satisfy all your requirements at once. AI will be highly unsuitable in situations where you have a lot of unique processes. It is nearly impossible to alter off-the-shelf AI according to your business needs as you don’t have the security code. AI is built for general purposes and not customized; therefore, you cannot improve and automate operations. 

What is custom AI?

Custom AI is different from an off-the-shelf AI solution as it is not an already built application; instead, it is developed based on the company’s specific requirements. Another significant difference is that custom AI is built for a single business, targeting a particular problem alone. Popular areas for custom AI developments are computer vision solutions, conversational AI platforms, etc. 

When is the right time to use a custom AI solution?

By adapting to custom AI, you have the power to alter it according to the needs of your business without any trouble. For example, when your business grows and increases in scale, the needs also change and increase over time; during this time, you will have to alter and improve the existing version. Opting for custom AI is the best choice and is the best possible option for solutions in the long run when you need to have complete control over the project. Custom AI provides your business a competitive edge because you don’t need to alter your business to adapt to the software. The software will adapt itself as it is custom-made, and you can access the security code.

When not to use custom AI solutions?

Developing custom AI is a time-consuming process and not pocket-friendly. Choosing custom AI is not an advisable option when you need a simple solution because off-the-shelf AI can do this job straightway without charging much. The positive result of your custom AI is a reflection of a highly efficient software developer. Therefore, it is critical to have an in-house development team. 

Which one to choose?

Before adopting any of these, you need to conduct an in-depth study of what suits your business better. Off-the-shelf AI solutions are better if you need a short-term solution and do not have much time in hand. 

And if you need a customized AI solution for your business, you will also need to find an efficient software development team. And when you have ample financial support and time, choosing custom AI will be the best option.

Ascend Agency
Written By

Ascend Agency is a social media marketing and public relations agency that helps influencers, public figures, artists, and entrepreneurs. Los Angeles, California, United States. For more information visit

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