Your 2021 Digital Cleanse: Does Your Tech Stack Up?

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woman is using a virtual table space to select the apps she wants to use

Chances are, if you work in a sector that shifted primarily to remote work in the early days of the pandemic, you and your company adopted some new technology to help with the transition. Maybe it was hardware (a second monitor, a smart speaker, an actual office chair instead of your kitchen stool), perhaps it was software (a time-tracker or cloud-based telecommunications solution). 

Either way, depending on how much time and energy went into making those initial purchases, you may want to take a second look, if you haven’t already. “Did I really need that subscription to Office 365? Or Zoom? Or that time-tracking software for my employees?” 

My company was just as guilty of falling for that shiny-new-object trick. We adopted some new tech to help us with the transition to WFH, but thankfully, we audited before a big bill came due. And those big bills do come: Businesses waste, on average, $247 per user and $7.4 million across the business on unused desktop tech, according to research conducted by software firm 1E. 

All that unused tech does more than take up space on hard drives and raise your overhead—it can also hamper productivity, which has an even bigger impact on your bottom line. 

Tech Is More Than Business Tools

The tech your business uses should help your team be more efficient. If these tools aren’t helping you, it’s time to boot them out the door. 

There’s significant cost associated not just with the tech itself but also in its onboarding, implementation, and maintenance. And in an American working culture where productivity is sapped by an average of three hours of meetings a day and ever-expanding work hours that lead to burnout, there’s just no room to lose money on clunky or superfluous technology. 

I always look at business tech from the perspective of creating positive relationships—maybe that’s because I spend most of my working hours thinking about boosting sales with tech-enhanced customer relationship management for the mortgage lending and real estate sectors. 

Ultimately, your team should have a positive relationship with your business tech tools, and your tech should help promote good team cohesion. When daily operations are efficient, morale improves and relationships flourish. 

Auditing Your Tech Stack: Where to start

Streamlining your tech stack should begin with an objective inventory. Document every piece of tech and subscription service that your company leverages. This includes communication tools (like Zoom), creation tools (anything in the Adobe ecosystem, say), and similar products. 

Next, consider the specific goals that each piece of tech helps your business accomplish. Is there duplication among tools? Are some of your subscriptions “tech silos” that don’t interact or play well with others? Which tools require significant time and effort for onboarding? Chances are, the bigger the headache, the bigger the waste; employees are resistant to tech they see as too hard to adopt into their workflow and will resist adoption even if the tech replaces a clunky, inefficient system. 

When my business first transitioned to remote work, we jumped on the Zoom bandwagon. How else were we going to conduct meetings? After a short time, however, we realized that our existing subscription to Office 365 with Teams allowed for efficient, high-quality meetings—and there was no adoption curve because our employees were already familiar with the system. Auditing our tech stack gave us insight into its capabilities and saved us money. 

Employee Pain Points and Tech for All

When adopting new tech in your business, take a page out of a marketer’s playbook and treat your employees like “internal customers.” Consider your employees’ pain points and how tech can provide solutions. Is your meeting software clunky or bug-ridden? Maybe your CRM is outdated and employees spend inordinate amounts of time just searching for the correct contact. Or perhaps your business thrives on collaboration, but there’s no way to securely share notes or work together on projects in your current project management software. 

Of course, bringing in new tech that creates new pain points should be avoided, so if there’s a significant labor cost just to download or gain a basic familiarity with a new program, it’s probably not a good fit. The tech should be customizable to your needs—after all, a hair salon will need a different CRM solution than a bank, and so on.

And to aid in adoption, lean into the tech’s integration capabilities. Tying the new program to one that employees must use in their day-to-day duties, such as a payment collection system, can help speed up the adoption timeline. Single sign-on to launch multiple programs can help reduce friction too. 

Lastly, consider the support capabilities of the new tech. Problems will arise—and when they do, you’ll be so grateful to speak to a real human or easily troubleshoot on your own with easy-to-find resources. 

Future-Proofing and Thriving 

Cleansing your tech stack of under- or unused software and hardware can free up (literal) bandwidth and save your business money as we head into 2021. And as remote and hybrid work models continue to become more popular with executives and employees, more than ever teams need tech that’s easily accessible, integrated and highly efficient. As we’ve seen in 2020, tech capabilities can make or break teams and productivity—so make sure your tech stacks up.

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