By: Matthew Bagshaw on January 3rd, 2019
How To Choose Your Marketing Technology Stack: One Solution Or Multiple Integrations?
Whether your organisation is a tiny startup or a massive multinational, you need to decide whether your next tech buy will have multiple integrated applications or be a single all-in-one solution. Although a single piece of software is usually easier to set up, it may not be able to fit your business as well as a system built with multiple applications.
In order to understand what would be best for your organisation, you first need to understand how your current operations are running. When doing so, hiccups and opportunities for improvement are equally important guides.
We’ll discuss all of these concerns in more detail below.
Key Areas To Examine In Your Organisation
Current workflows and processes
Often, the most important revealing areas involve anywhere that data is handed off from one person to another, for example approvals or work distributions.
Similarly, it is often beneficial to look at where data is handed off between systems; it may be there is a person rekeying that data.
Next, make sure that you understand the timeline of your workflows and processes. Which tasks need to happen before which other tasks? Which tasks are you finishing serially, when you could actually perform them in parallel?
Also, make sure that you examine your workflows from an end-user standpoint. High-level executives and managers will understand processes in a different way than those at the coal face do. Because employees may be accomplishing tasks quite differently than what’s on paper, executives should take the time to understand what’s actually going on within the organisation.
Current and previous software solutions
Go over the technology solutions that you’ve tried before, and those you’re currently using, to understand what worked and what didn’t. Is there anything that’s working really well for you right now, or that you know isn’t the right fit? This assessment can help you figure out which directions to go in next (and which to avoid).
Pain points and opportunities
Ask yourself why, specifically, you want to search for a new solution. Everyone in the organisation likely has different concerns and pain points. Interview some key personnel to discover the biggest issues that they face in their day-to-day work.
Also, use this time to identify the most promising areas in your business for automation. Processes and workflows that are repeatable, predictable, and rules-based are good automation candidates. On the other hand, processes that require high-level judgments and strategic thinking will likely need a human hand.
External touch points
Most organisations import assets and information from other places, and likely export them as well. Ask your external contacts whether they’re experiencing any challenges—they may be willing to partner with you on a solution.
Key questions to ask
- Where would time savings create the greatest benefit and which processes have the greatest effect on your overall timeline?
- What are the quality requirements? Where does error carry the greatest risk?
- What is the lifecycle of the average asset, and when is it no longer relevant?
- Who needs access to which assets? What is the minimum level of access that can be given to everyone in the organisation?
- What is your budget? Where is the money coming from? Is it fair that one department or area is bearing more of the cost if they’re experiencing more or less pain points? Is any aspect of the solution going to benefit outside parties?
- What specific functionality do you require? Does the extra functionality of multiple applications outweigh the benefit of having everything in one place?
- What can you see coming down the road? Do you need to make sure the ground is prepared for expansion?
- Are your existing solutions working well? Do you want to build around your current software, or do you want to completely shake things up?
Making the final decision
The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about the minimum feature set that you can work with. From this list, you can see if there’s a single piece of software that fulfills all of these requirements.
Working with a single solution is typically easier and less complex: different applications don’t have to exchange data, and your IT team isn’t subject to additional burden. However, not every situation calls for a single piece of software.
Some businesses have specialised requirements that practically scream out for multiple solutions. If you’re doing a lot of web development, for example, your team will likely want its own set of systems in order to have ultimate control over the code.
Complex ecosystems, like retail, will often need a multiple system solution to manage the lifecycle of a product and its data from concept or buying to sale. If a multiple system solution is inevitable when comparing current software state against your requirements, how large an area can each component own?
The final decision between single and multiple systemsis one that will be extremely specific to your business. Many factors, including current and future state software landscape, company and departmental goals, end user requirements and processes, external touch points, budget, security and IT policies, should be considered and weighed before you come to a conclusion.
How working with an integration expert can help
A dedicated integration partner can guide you through the discovery phase to gain a clear picture of all your processes and understand opportunities for improvements or automations. These analyses will form the foundation of any design be it single application or multiple.
In the case of a single application solution, your integration partner can continue to work with you on the configuration design, tailoring the software to your business needs.
Should integration points be required between multiple applications, their purpose and specific interactions will naturally follow on from the discovery process.
Finally, once the solution is in place, your integration partner can ensure that it continues to function and is properly supported.
Perhaps the most valuable asset that an integration expert brings to the table is a different perspective. The right partner can import tactics and concepts that they’ve successfully innovated and implemented at other organisations. Partners with cross-industry, multiple deployment experience will enrich any solution.
No two organisations are alike—you are the best judge of whether your tech stack needs multiple applications or just a single solution. By going over the points above in detail, you’ll be much more likely to make the right choice and to find the solution that aligns best with your processes and business.
In addition, working with an integration expert such as IOI can help bring in insights and ideas that you hadn’t previously considered. Click here to get in touch with an expert from our team.