Why Business Owners Need to Be More Mindful of Their Tech Stacks

By Anna Johansson
Published 06/23/2020
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Gone are the days of piecing together different hardware, software, and technology to develop a makeshift technological ecosystem. Businesses have to be intentional with which tools and programs they use, otherwise they could be compromised by poor efficiency, low profitability, and even cyber attacks.

Does your business have the right tech stack in place?

What is a Tech Stack?

 Traditionally, a tech stack, which is also commonly referred to as a data ecosystem or solutions stack, is the name given to a list of all the different technology services you use to build and run applications. (Take Facebook, for example. Their tech stack includes HTML, JavaScript, CSS, PHP, ReactJS, and other solutions.) But it can also refer to the various technologies that make up a company’s collection of software, applications, and programs that are used throughout the organization.

Let’s use Airbnb as an illustration. Their tech stack consists of a few different categories – each with a set of tools that accomplish specific tasks:

  • Application and data: JavaScript, nginx, React, Java, MySQL, Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Redis, Ruby, Sass, Amazon CloudFront, Rails, Amazon RDS, Hadoop, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon EBS, Airflow, Druid, Presto, and Airpal.
  • Utilities: Google Analytics, Amazon Route 53, Twilio SendGrid, Mixpaenl, Twilio, Visual Website Optimizer, Braintree, Lottie, Nexmo, Superset, Urban Airship, Native Navigation, Aerosolve, and DeepLinkDispatch.
  • DevOps: GitHub, New Relic, Webpack, Kibana, Sentry, Vagrant, Amazon CloudWatch, Logstash, Datadorg, Jest, Chef, Enzyme, Apache Mesos, and SmartStack.
  • Business tools: Slack, G Suite, InVision, Asana, Campaign Monitor, React Sketch.app, and Assemblage.

 If you counted, that’s 55 different tools, apps, and services. And guess what? Not one of these tools is selected without first considering the larger tech stack and how it fits into the equation.

The tech stack – which gets its name from the fact that these tools are stacked on top of one another to create a powerful synergy that can be leveraged to accomplish bigger and better things than a single task could do on its own – is purposeful and strategic.

 How to Build and Optimize the Right Tech Stack

 A tech stack is obviously important, but why does it matter – specifically?

Well, it matters on almost every level of the business. But if we’re going to zoom in and look at things on a granular level, you’ll find that your tech stack directly impacts factors like:

  • Scalability. Growth is one of the primary objectives of any organization. The structure of your tech stack directly impacts your ability to scale up over time. If your tech is too limiting, you’ll find it difficult to expand. (At the very least, you’ll be restricted to growing in a certain way.) If your tech is properly organized and optimized, you have the freedom to scale in any way you please.
  • User experience. This isn’t all about backend development. Your tech stack also has a significant impact on user experience and customer engagement. User-friendly solutions make your business more relatable and appealing to your target audience.

In light of this, here are some things you should consider when building and/or optimizing your own tech stack:

 1. Choose Cooperative Solutions

 Far too many apps and software programs on the market today are siloed. They might work well on their own, but they don’t function properly when combined with other apps. This is a problem.

Make sure you’re using cooperative solutions. Fishbowl inventory management software would be an example. Not only does it work well on its own, but it can also integrate with dozens of other platforms – including QuickBooks, Amazon, Salesforce, and Shopify. This makes it much more practical (and ensures long-term value). 

2. Choose Tools You Like

 It’s also important to choose tools that you’re comfortable using. User experience matters almost as much as the backend tech. If the tool doesn’t feel intuitive, you’ll be reluctant to use it.

3. Choose Tools With Ample Support

There’s nothing wrong with supporting a new tool or app, but what do you do when problems arise? Will there be enough support – either inside the company or via web resources – to help? This is one of the advantages of using established solutions in your stack.

 Give Your Business a Solid Technological Footing

 It doesn’t matter if you run a small ecommerce shop or a multinational fintech company, you need a solid technological footing to ensure optimal efficiency, profitability, and growth potential.

Optimizing your tech stack is one of the best places to start. Use the time you have now to review and iterate.

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, TheNextWeb.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.