Spring is finally in the air! As the snow slowly starts to melt away, and winter draws to an end, it's time to put away the snow boots, open up the shutters, and come out of hibernation. While many of us will soon be in the process of cleaning, dusting, and getting our homes ready for the new life that the season brings; it's equally as important for us to also do a spring cleaning of our businesses too.
No, I don’t mean throwing out that Chinese takeout box that’s in the back of the fridge, although that is important too. I mean that spring is a great time to take stock of your tech stack and make sure that it is still fulfilling all your business and operational needs. It is so easy to accumulate different software and apps over the course of a year. In fact, in 2020 the average mid-market business used 137 different applications. When you have these many tools in your marketing technology stack, it is easy to lose track of them, and what their original purpose was. This is why it’s prudent to review and reassess your software’s and digital tools on an annual basis to ensure that they are still relevant, fully optimized, and contributing to your company’s business strategies. While the idea of reviewing 137 different apps every year can seem daunting, I am here to help you streamline and simplify the process.
Step 1: Review Your Annual KPI’s
As we near the end of the first fiscal quarter, a great starting place prior to delving into your tech stack is to go over your company’s key performance indicators (KPI’s). Having these goals top of mind will allow you to think more critically about the relevancy of your digital tools, and whether they are actually an asset to the company. Furthermore, you can compare your tech stack against your KPI’s in a measurable way. These metrics will help you determine the efficiency of your current tools and identify areas that are not being optimized.
Step 2: Optimizing Your Digital Tools
In addition to making sure the applications themselves are able to help the company achieve their goals, there are several other criterium that should be analyzed to ensure that your tech stack is operating as efficiently as possible. Your first priority should be evaluating the integration of your systems. When working with over 130 different types of tools and softwares, it's essential that they are able to work cohesively and automatically, otherwise, you are going to be stuck inputting and transferring data manually. This is easier said than done, however, as integration was named the fourth biggest challenge in IT. The best way to circumvent this issue is by finding vendors that clearly outline how their products will connect with your other tools.
Your second priority in tech stack optimization should be identifying and reducing redundancies. As was mentioned, when companies don’t stay on top of managing their business and marketing operations, they often lose focus of what apps they have, and what their primary purpose is. This often results in companies spending unnecessary funds on unneeded apps, and additional software interfering with the seamless integration of your processes. In the end, the user experience is deteriorated, and customer satisfaction goes down.
Lastly, after comparing the functionalities of your current stack, look at what areas of your marketing strategy are not being addressed. Is there a tool or resource that is available online that can solve this issue? Is compatible with your current strategy? If yes, then awesome, problem solved. Or, is the reason that there is a gap in your business process because one of your current software is out of date?
Step 3: Updating Your Technology
Often, old tech will have issues integrating with automation tools, so if you are finding that despite your best efforts you still can’t get your systems to integrate it may be time to say goodbye to some of your older pieces. In addition to re-evaluating your tech stack annually, it's important to also look at the functionality of your business software’s. As your company continues to expand, it will get to the point where your current processes and technologies cannot support your growth, the needs of your employees, or the demands of your clients. According to the NSTEC, software operating systems should be updated monthly, and business hardware should be replaced every five years to stay up to date with the latest in innovations and ensure compatibility with your current tech stack.
It is important to keep a pulse on what new advanced technologies or software are on the market that could help your company create a more efficient system. P2P Marketing, G2 Crowd, and Capterra are some of the leading software review sites that simplify the buying decision and help companies determine what software is going to be best for your company and complement your existing digital tools. These three sites offer both free and premium subscriptions and provide insights into an extensive listing of software categories that will be able to help you fill any gaps in your current business process, achieve your company goals, or keep tabs on the software your competitors are using. Sites such as these are a great resource for fine-tuning your business strategy and marketing tactics and implementing new innovations into your business operations. And with that, I will leave you to your spring cleaning, whether that be at home or in the office.