Tag: consolidation

Stacks vs. Suites: Moving Away From Consolidation

Posted by on January 16, 2019

stack-of-blocks

It wasn’t long ago that businesses were focusing on consolidating all of their technology into single suite systems. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all product solution can rarely service all of an organization’s needs equally. While the simplicity of a single service is quite compelling, it cannot functionally compete with the customization, efficiency, and specialization of a well-integrated stack.

A Conventional Approach to Software Consolidation

Conventional approaches to software have recently tilted towards finding consolidated suites that can do everything for an organization. Enterprise resource planning, inventory management, customer relationship management, and other discrete and disparate products have been folded into singular systems for this reason.

The perceived advantages of this type of system are clear. A consolidated software system is seen as being easier to maintain as well as more cost-effective. From the software provider’s perspective, each vendor is able to capture more value for a customer. IT departments have preferred managing and maintaining a single system, and the belief has been that this type of system tends to be more secure as there are fewer opportunities for gaps.

The Failings of a Consolidated Approach

While consolidated approaches work effectively in theory, in practice they have often led to a “Jack of all trades, master of none” situation. When a single tool is not sufficient for a company’s day-to-day operations, they find themselves adding tools regardless. Once these tools are added, the company has already begun to create a stack — they just have not acknowledged the stack in a way that it can be properly integrated or maintained.

Using a consolidated approach can ultimately lead to an organization using a variety of tools that are ill-suited to their organization’s use, while pursuing a more simplified system. Ultimately this leads to issues in efficiency, and prompts many employees, customers, and vendors to self-service their IT needs and install their own sets of tools.

Developing a Digital Experience Stack

Organizations are now increasingly moving away from a consolidated approach and towards building a well-integrated stack. A well-integrated stack creates a custom workflow for an organization with the tools that the organization needs, but there are challenges present. In order to work effectively, the components of the stack must be fully explored, and the whole system has to be designed to work well together.

Enterprise content management (ECM) solutions and portals become exceptionally important when building out a digital experience stack, as they create central hubs through which the organization can manage its communications and authentication.

When creating a digital experience stack, the organization can no longer rely upon a consolidated system to funnel users into an easy-to-use experience. Instead, it must use a central hub in order to consolidate the information users need.

With the right solution, a digital experience stack can still provide an experience to the user that appears to be consolidated and well-integrated, while delivering a customized and effective experience.

Shifting an Organization from Suite to Stack

Shifting an organization’s infrastructure can appear to be a daunting task, and many organizations find themselves working with managed partners or experts in order to facilitate this shift. When it comes to a switch from a suite-based infrastructure to a stack-based infrastructure, an organization may begin by identifying its current pain points and the solution that it needs.

Developing out a DX stack is like building an ecosystem. An organization can start with its most basic tools such as its accounting, inventory management, and employee portals, building out the tools that it needs to be integrated with its infrastructure. However, it’s vital for the purposes of the user experience that all of these systems be properly integrated together.

Correct integration creates a seamless experience on the user’s behalf, with data being shared and synced from system to system, a singular location for files and documents, and an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. From an IT standpoint, an integrated DX stack must be easy to manage and maintain, with as much automated as possible.

Ultimately, many organizations have found themselves dissatisfied with their consolidated suites, as consolidated suites provide a one-size-fits-all solution that rarely has the advantages of distinct and discrete tools.

By building their own DX stacks, organizations can improve user experience and utility, gaining the best solutions for each task. However, they also need to be conscientious about the increased needs of a DX stack, in terms of integration, management, and maintenance.