When it comes to a website or app for a business, the technology behind those solutions is often referred to as the business’s tech stack. Layers of a tech stack can include a content management system (CMS), digital experience platform (DXP), media files, email campaign platform, marketing automation, ecommerce platform, social channels, digital asset manager (DAM), product information manager (PIM), customer relationship manager (CRM), order management system (OMS), inventory management system (IMS), warehouse management system (WMS), enterprise resource planner (ERP), among others. Yes, tech stacks are very partial to acronyms.
As part of an annual client event that we call the Americaneagle.com Forum, our Director of Enterprise Architecture Brad Skeen shared the following insights to help you make the right tech stack considerations today to be certain your digital presence will best serve your customers tomorrow.
What's Your Problem?
Every business should plan a regular review of the technologies that support its digital presence. In doing so, questions like the following should be answered in regard to technology solutions.
- What is broken and needs to be replaced?
- What is costing more than it should?
- What is underperforming?
- What is limiting growth or agility?
- What is good, but not great (yet)?
- What is perfect just the way it is?
If those questions can be confidently answered as each layer of your tech stack is being assessed, you are well on your way to establishing priorities toward improvement. Both your time and budget are finite. Clear priorities are integral to meaningful progress.
The Promises of Technology
What are we supposed to get from this digital age? Within business, technology makes many promises. Speed, intelligence, scalability, spread, and convenience are at the top of the list of promises.
Speed should be accelerated by technology. Via a website or app, businesses should no longer need to have a one-on-one relationship with every customer at every sale. There should be no more waiting in line to check out. Optimization for speed within every digital interaction should be an ongoing endeavor.
Intelligence is gained through data acquisition and insight. Data is acquired in many ways and within many layers of a tech stack. Be certain to integrate data across technologies in every way you can. The integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence can also lead to smart, data-driven decisions and advanced business intelligence.
Scalability promises the expansion of leads, more orders, and more sales. The best technologies successfully support scalability and drive business growth.
Spread should also be a promise that technology delivers via the World Wide Web. If a business model is not tied to localized geographic service constraints, an expanded market should be attainable via technology.
Convenience, lastly, is offered via automation, personalization, suggestions, and predictions that technology can accomplish. The 24/7/365 availability of your business technologies can be a game-changing convenience as well.
Size and Solution Architecture
There are three different architectures that usually make up the tech stack: monolithic, service-oriented, and microservices.
Monolithic is an all-in-one architecture. The solution is typically a CMS platform or DXP that offers a variety of functional technology that can be added over time. While the single user interface and central database is convenient, monolithic architecture can also bring with it high costs for customization and increased security risk.
Service-oriented maximizes separate platforms or tools for various service needs. Often a combination of hosted or software as a solution (SaaS) options, this architecture is the common choice for a majority of enterprise businesses. Service-oriented architecture, with each tool able to be vetted and selected to best serve specific business needs, can provide beneficial flexibility and scalability. A more complex set-up and necessary integrations, however, mean a larger initial investment.
Microservices architecture separates concerns down to the level of functionality. It is largely cloud-hosted SaaS and is often the choice of complex, major enterprise brands. This architecture typically starts as service-oriented but builds organically builds out as enterprise needs arise.
When and How to Evolve
When to evolve is an easy question to answer. Always. As stated before, the assessment of your tech stack performance should be a routinely planned practice. The velocity of change is often driven by specific experiences. Some examples of those are thematic internal or customer complaints, system crashes, limited fulfillment capacity, security issues, compliance concerns, or loss of revenue.
How to evolve? Sometimes it is immediate triage mode because you’ve identified something is broken. Issues of compliance or security certainly qualify as that. If a revenue stream is broken or limited, that also leads to high-priority technology solutions evolution. Other, more planful evolution occurs when incremental improvement opportunities present themselves. You might plan to replace legacy systems, remove redundancy, replatform, or upgrade to new versions of satisfactory solutions.
If your business is interested in reviewing your tech stack strategy with Americaneagle.com, we would be honored to do so. Contact us to get started.