HomeBlog TechX 2016: Don't Let Your Tech Stack Topple!

TechX 2016: Don't Let Your Tech Stack Topple!

November 16, 2016 | By Jessica Lillian

  • Many organization's tech stacks are precarious and filled with gaps
  • During their Tech Exchange keynote, Jay Famico and Mark Levinson introduced a new technology framework
  • A priority-led approach to technology is key to making the right decisions

Does your tech stack feel a little wobbly? As Jay Famico and Mark Levinson said at today’s opening keynote at the 2016 SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange, the modern b-to-b organization’s collection of various sales and marketing technologies might feel a little like the precarious stack of wooden pieces in the classic game Jenga.

The stack might seem secure on first glance, but as you look more closely, misaligned elements and gaps appear, threatening the overall structural stability. Now, imagine those Jenga pieces are supersized – and on fire. These are the imposing stakes for many organizations, especially during times of rapid growth.

A poorly built tech stack can develop as a result of many factors. Most commonly, organizations think of their technologies as a set of point solutions purchased for specific functions or to resolve particular internal challenges. Addressing technology through a functional lens rather than taking an aligned view across the entire business creates silos and gaps.

Instead, priorities must drive technology purchases – and these priorities must be identified and met in an optimized way. The key objectives of an organization are the key to prioritizing investment and focus; if it’s not a priority for the business, it’s likely not important.

“You have a set budget – you can’t take everything on, and you can’t take everything on all at once,” Jay noted.

The new SiriusDecisions Priority-Led Technology Framework, unveiled during Jay and Mark’s session, presents the desired approach to technology procurement – the priority-led approach – alongside two common but flawed approaches. With a category-led approach, organizations essentially buy technology and then figure out what to do with it; tech is considered a cost center. With an activity-led approach, technology is viewed neutrally, but support, data and strategy are limited.

Taking the priority-led approach to technology requires several foundational elements. First, internal competencies are critical.

“Many times, organizations end up with a category-led approach because they don’t have the right competencies in place to push the right way to use tech,” Mark said. He recommended mapping out existing competencies across skills, knowledge, process and technology. Most importantly, consider whether the people in the organization understand how to use and implement specific technologies across the tech stack in the most productive way.

At many organizations, marketing and sales stacks are separate – an illogical approach that inhibits processes. “When you don’t have a combined stack, you see functional impacts,” Jay explained. “You see process gaps – where one function is doing things well, but when things are passed to a receiving function, the ball drops. And when errors happen, you increase your budget and timelines on projects.”

Furthermore, a non-integrated stack prevents the organization from completing detailed, timely, valuable reporting. Using the flagship SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall®, for example, becomes impossible, as there is no insight into outputs, inputs and conversion rates. 

Finally, culture can serve as an inhibitor or enabler on the journey to a priority-led tech stack. Jay and Mark urged attendees to foster a culture of disruption and risk tolerance. Technology must be seen as a strategy, and leadership must recognize and accept that technology advancement inevitably brings errors along the way.

With people, processes and culture in place, the priority-led approach that creates an ideal stack becomes achievable. “Don’t end up in a position where your tech stack is on fire,” Mark said. Instead, take the time to understand how to set the priorities that drive the right decisions, look at people and processes, and build a stable, solid tech stack piece by piece.

 

Jessica Lillian

Jessica F. Lillian is a senior editor and content strategy manager at SiriusDecisions and has more than a decade of b-to-b editorial experience, including five years as the editor of national b-to-b magazines. Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessica_lillian