How to Build a Tech Stack for Your Business

business information technology

SaaS. UCaaS. CCaas. The list goes on. In fact, more than 50 “as-a-service” offerings are available to you. As-a-service offerings have grown beyond software subscriptions to encompass all kinds of services delivered, some of which help boost employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX). 

This model is just one example of all the emerging business information technology available to businesses today. Technology developers launch new applications and updates daily. The challenge is knowing which technologies to adopt in your business.

Should you choose the ones that enable you to operate better, faster, and more cost-effectively? Yes, but most boast those same benefits. Just as a physician shouldn’t prescribe a vitamin for a deficiency you don’t have, a company shouldn’t implement technology to solve a problem they don’t face. 

That may sound like common sense. However, it is logic often forgotten when presented with the latest and (seemingly) greatest tech offering. Selecting the right technologies for your unique business requires an intentional decision-making process that outsmarts any marketing scheme or technical spec. Without one, you either neglect innovation or invest in the wrong solutions. In both cases, you fall behind. 

We’ve been through the technology selection process more times than we count. Here’s some of what we’ve learned. 

Selecting the Right Business Information Technologies

“The way we’ve always done it” is undoubtedly a phrase of the past. Businesses must adapt to the times to keep up with the competition and customer expectations. According to research by McKinsey, the highest-performing companies make “bolder investments in technology.” More specifically, those investments support a “holistic, cross-functional approach” to improving a company’s overall resilience, yielding a 30 to 40 percent gain over traditional functional optimization.

These leading companies understand that there is no “silver bullet” in business information technologies. Instead, they implement what the industry calls a “tech stack.” A tech stack, short for technology stack, is the collection of tools, platforms, apps, and software that a company uses to build its products, carry out its business operations, and monitor its performance metrics. 

For example, one company’s tech stack might consist of:

  • a digital asset and content management platform
  • a web application for analytics and metrics
  • a communication API
  • a product analytics platform
  • a help desk software
  • a ticket management software
  • a payment processing platform
  • an email marketing tool

Some systems optimize the customer experience, others serve employees, but they must work together to create a positive comprehensive experience. Even better is when the platforms can integrate and “talk” to each other.

Reading the above list, you likely realize you already have a tech stack of some sort. This brings us to the first step of the technology selection process.

1. Audit Your Current Tech Stack

Before you scan the marketplace for new technologies, look within your business operations to create a list of your current technologies. You need to have a good understanding of the tools you currently use before adding others to your team’s workflow.

Use your customer journey map as a reference, identifying systems your team uses at each stage. You can also approach it functionally by referring to your organizational chart. For a more visual resource than a list, you can organize your findings into a tech stack diagram

Beyond compiling your current tech stack, the audit really takes place in understanding how well your current stack serves your business. Ask yourself questions like: 

  • Can customers self-perform simple tasks through your website, or must they contact and complete the task through a service representative?
  • Can employees access the information they need to do their jobs effectively?
  • How long does your process take for issue resolution?

2. Assess Your Business Objectives

Upgrading your business information technology can elevate your business in several ways. What problems do you need to solve, what improvements do you want to make, or which goals do you want to achieve? Technology selections should align with a business strategy, so review your business plan for identified business objectives.

If your strategic plan lacks input from your team members, it is wise to involve them in this exercise. Ask your team members where they experience the most frustration in their workflows or where they see the greatest opportunities for improvement (questions worth asking your customers, too).

Here are some generic objectives that technology can support:

  • Improve communication with our customers
  • Coordinate information flow between our company’s departments
  • Gather data about our customers and their journey with our company to reduce roadblocks and abandonment
  • Streamline our team’s tasks and processes
  • Optimize customer self-service

3. Research Emerging Technologies

Equipped with an understanding of your current gaps and needs, you can start collecting information about what is available to build out your tech stack. Research offerings online, consult trusted business publications, and talk to peers in your industry. Use the following questions as a starting point to build a spreadsheet that compiles the details. 

  • Does it solve a current or predicted problem?
  • What additional advantages does it offer?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • Is it easily replaced, if needed?
  • What is its scalability and flexibility?
  • How is the user experience?
  • How secure is the data? 
  • What is the vendor’s service and support model?

Many vendors offer free demos and trials of their platforms that can also enhance your findings at this stage.

4. Compare the Options 

Now, you can perform an intelligent assessment, comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each technology. Which technologies support your primary goals, improve your processes, serve customers, and integrate well with other systems in your tech stack? Supplement your notes with product guides and establish top choices.

5. Perform a Cost Analysis (ROI)

Tech solutions are not cheap, but they have the potential for significant return on investment (ROI). You want to choose the solutions with the best ROI for your particular needs. Establish a budget, either monthly, quarterly, and annual or per team/business vertical. In addition to your budget, consider usage expectations and top priorities so you can focus on tech that will deliver the greatest overall value. Remember, resources are finite, so every “yes” to an investment is a “no” to another.

Transformative Expertise

A majority of leaders reported that they lack the knowledge or experience needed to pioneer the implementation of new technologies that can transform their business. It is a cumbersome process that circumvents costly mistakes. 

AdviseCX is an advisory firm that provides strategy, implementation, and management of CX technologies. Our technology advisory services empower leaders to implement the highest value technologies transformative to their business — without having to gain expertise in business information technology.