How to Plan and Streamline Your Tech Stack in 2023
Last updated: March 6, 2023
Struggling with your tech stack? You’re not alone.
Businesses now use so many apps to conduct their work that half of office professionals spend more time finding files and information than actually doing their work.
Busywork aside, overstuffed tech stacks also result in siloed data, unclear attribution and even employee attrition, thus standing in the way of the progress they claim to deliver.
Sound familiar? Consider simplifying your tech stack. Switching up your tech investment can be daunting, but with the right focus, you can find and onboard the tools that’ll unlock real growth and productivity for your business.
Keep these considerations in mind as you shop for new solutions.
Signs that your tech stack is falling short
No piece of tech is perfect. But long-standing tech issues can have huge financial, productivity and even reputational costs for your company (exhibit A: Southwest Airlines). If you’re seeing one or more of the following signs, it might be time to consider streamlining your tech stack:
- Your tools have overlapping functions, which raises your marketing costs without an offsetting bump in revenue or time savings.
- Data is siloed, making it impossible to deliver the omni-channel experience that your customers have come to expect.
- You’re constantly fixing bugs and managing problems related to integrations.
- Your technology can’t scale alongside your business.
- You’re experiencing more risks and data breaches. Antivirus tools, phishing training and spam filters can’t keep sophisticated threats at bay — and threats may evolve more quickly than your security tools can keep up with. Outdated, poorly configured tech and integrations also increase your exposure to accidental data breaches.
- It’s impacting your team’s morale — and they’re jumping ship. (We might joke about having 15 windows open at any one time, but that doesn’t mean we like it.) 85% of professionals stating they would leave their job due to dissatisfaction with the software and tools they have to use.
- Your budget has a line item dedicated to tech, and another one for fixing the tech you just bought. This is an unfortunately common problem: A recent McKinsey report found that 30% of CIOs believed they were using more than 20% of their budget to resolve issues created by tech debt.
Top considerations when planning your tech stack
Finding the “right” tech stack for your company is like finding the right wedding dress. What looks good for one company might not work for you — and often, you don’t know what’s best until you try it out for yourself.
So instead of giving you a set checklist of tools to buy, we’re giving you a framework for diagnosing your tech needs, then scouting, evaluating and choosing the best tech stack for your needs. Here’s where to start:
1. Assess your tech issues
You can’t solve a problem that you can’t see. So before you start booking demos, take stock of your tech stack to see what’s working and what’s not.
Are you duplicating processes across 2+ tools? Is data getting lost in translation? Are you using each tool to its fullest capacity or can you shed some tech expenses? Is each solution providing the promised benefits?
Also ask your colleagues for feedback: How is their day-to-day work impacted by your tech stack? How much time is your team spending on transferring and cleaning data v. activating it to reach your audience? What are their biggest challenges and how can they be solved through different tech solutions? (They may even have recommendations.)
While answering these questions, consider how effectiveness your tech is not just right now, but for the long term.
This is easier said than done: Many businesses are financially incentivized to find temporary fixes to technical issues as they arise rather than making a bigger investment in a more permanent solution. While that might be the right move in certain situations, there are big financial and competitive risks to this approach as well. So carefully assess your tech capabilities against your long-term roadmap before deciding to postpone optimizations.
2. Match each tool with a goal
The rise of marketing technology sparked serious shiny object syndrome among marketers. People demoed a new splashy CRM, DMP, etc., and saw the cure for all their marketing woes.
That top-down approach incentivizes overspending on tools that might not ladder up to your main priorities or worse, have overlapping functions. Instead, work from the bottom up.
Review your top business priorities (attracting more leads, maximizing revenue, etc.), then identify the technology that will best help you reach each goal.
Try to find tools with multiple functions related to the same goal — the less tech you need to orchestrate a campaign, the less likely it’ll be derailed by an untimely software bug, siloed data, or simply not knowing how one of the tools works.
For instance, Omeda combines a CDP with native email, marketing automation and subscription management functionalities. This empowers marketers to collect and unify their customer data, add to them to ongoing campaigns, then activate those campaigns all from the same platform. Because who’s got time to transfer data and switch tabs these days?
3. Keep your data top of mind
Your customer data tells you who everyone in your audience is and how you can help them at any given moment. So to really connect with your customers, you need to keep that data as accurate, updated and complete as possible. (i.e., You can view Joe T. Smith’s website tracking activity, email engagement records, past event attendance, etc., in one complete record — and nothing from Joe V. Smith’s record is mistakenly pulled into that file).
Back when marketers only used a handful of tools to reach customers, it was easy enough to accomplish this. Maybe they could even update someone’s record manually if necessary. Now that the average enterprise marketing team has 90+ tools in their tech stack? It’s almost impossible to create a single customer view without spending hours cleaning, manipulating and transporting data across multiple platforms.
So as you scout new software, focus heavily on its treatment of data. This is especially important because these shortcomings don’t reveal themselves until the implementation process. Maybe your vendor says they have an open API, so you’re counting on a smooth and easy integration process. But it turns out that they can only map 4 data fields — and you need 30 or more.
Ask each vendor specific questions about their API and integration capabilities, including:
- How does the platform ingest and manage customer data?
- How does the platform monitor integration success and/or failures, and report on data variances or anomalies?
- How does the platform handle connectors and integrations with external martech systems?
- How reliable are its “must-have” integrations?
- What is the platform’s approach to integrating with the specific MarTech systems that your company uses? The existence of a connector doesn’t guarantee it will necessarily work for your specific use case.
- What data security regulations does the platform comply with?
- What data security certifications does the platform have?
Prioritize platforms that integrate easily with your flagship tools or better yet, consider using a customer data platform. These tools take in customer data from every touchpoint you use to reach customers, clean and standardize it, then use it to create one complete profile for each individual. This way, you get all the benefits of your tech and none of the complications.
4. Plan your adoption strategy
You’ve spent weeks or months searching for the perfect tool to help you generate new leads. You’ve signed the dotted line and now you’re probably going to be eager to get it up and running.
But your colleagues will likely be less thrilled about the change, since it usually means taking time out of their schedules to learn yet another tool that may or may not deliver for them.
Below are some ways to ensure a smooth, less stressful implementation process.
- Ask your vendors if they provide consulting services pre- and post-launch, and take advantage of any available resources
- Create a robust onboarding program — and prioritize vendors with extensive self-service educational resources
- Automate as many processes as you can. This shows your team that they can save time by using the tool, which is the best way to ensure buy-in among your whole team.
- Establish and track success metrics so you can easily judge whether they’re helping you meet the stated goal for your business.
5. Monitor and adapt as needed
Gradually onboard new tools one at a time so that your team can learn the ins and outs of each platform, rather than getting overloaded with a lot of new tech at once. Coordinate to identify any knowledge or functionality, then conduct more training as necessary. Once you’re up and running, measure each tool’s performance against your KPIs to evaluate your success.
While you shouldn’t expect immediate results from any one tech tool, it’s also important to stay flexible as you experiment with new tools. Don’t be afraid to move on from a solution that’s not delivering the promised impact. Your tech stack is literally powering your business, so it’s worth taking the time and energy necessary to ensure it’s the best fit for your needs.
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What you should do now
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