Technology Up-Leveling for Better Business Value

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By actualizing the full potential of technology your business already has available, you’re in a better position to keep the trains of innovation rolling and meet objectives and goals moving forward.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit businesses hard. In fact, 2020 data shows 55% of all businesses that have closed their doors since March 1st will never reopen. As companies figure out how to stay afloat while continuing to innovate successfully, every expenditure is being closely scrutinized. Due to this, technical teams are being asked to do their part by making the most of existing technology investments, as well as investigating open-source options.

See also: Reality Check: Barely One in 10 Companies Have Advanced Technology in Place

Many organizations that were on a technology migration path have halted their previously planned journey as budgets have been restricted or reallocated to enable remote workers to be productive, collaborate effectively, and continue innovating. Especially right now, replacing a technology stack, which is the backbone of the organization’s applications infrastructure, is an expensive proposition with a higher level of risk that few organizations want to tackle right now.

While it’s true that implementing new technology is a large part of the digital transformation process, the “rip and replace” strategy that businesses often adopt is not only disruptive but very costly. Additionally, retrofitting legacy applications so that they are compatible with the new technology stack can be difficult, expensive, and may expose impedance mismatches between the old and new stacks.

Further, training existing staff on new skill sets required as additional technology is implemented takes time. The number of resources needed to bring employees up to the level of proficiency and productivity that they had with the old technology can, in the current climate, mean lost opportunities to innovate and regain ROI.

Understanding how to get the most out of existing technology can mean the difference between simply surviving and actually putting the business on a path to success. Most already have an existing technology stack they can tap to increase operational and budgetary efficiencies. They just need to find where they can get more value from these solutions.

Identifying potential in what you already have

As businesses work with limited budgets and face the reality of decreased revenue, the first course of action needs to be to take a holistic look at the existing technology stack — how is it currently being used? Where are the strengths and weaknesses? What can be done to get the business more bang for its buck?

To start, take stock of the technology currently being used. If a particular technology is only being used for one process but is capable of undertaking a wide array of processes, businesses can incorporate that technology into other areas – with little to no additional investment. Also, in a lot of cases, companies are investing in technology that has not been adopted by its employees or is only being used in part. These are all areas of untapped value.

Companies can also embrace open-source alternatives for select layers in the technology stack that would be otherwise lacking. Not only is this financially attractive, but it provides an opportunity for customization that is rarely offered by proprietary alternatives. Many open-source projects have focused on minimizing friction by providing compatibility with their proprietary alternatives or migration toolsets, so the risk vs. reward equation can weigh more to the rewards side.  

At the outset of the pandemic, several companies from all over were likely on a digital transformation path to fully integrate a new technology stack. For many, the longer-term effects of social and economic shutdowns may have frozen their existing technology stack at specific version levels. What this means is, now that this migration has been paused or canceled, it is worth investigating the benefits of upgrading to the latest versions of various layers within the stack as it stands. This opens the opportunity to fill holes in certain processes and could lead to increases in performance, security, and functional gains. 

Optimizing your technology to its fullest potential

Before COVID-19, today’s c-suite was already heavily focused on investing in the latest technologies. However, data from Accenture published in late 2019 showed that a lot of businesses were not necessarily unlocking or tapping into the full potential of these investments. In looking at both ‘Leaders’ in enterprise technology as well as ‘Laggards,’ Accenture found that Laggards struggled to scale their tech investments across the organization and realize the full value of resulting innovations. What’s more, Leaders were experiencing 2X more revenue growth than Laggards.

As quarantine ordinances and economic shutdowns happened across the globe, and digital transformation efforts had to be redirected or halted, it’s possible that those who were previously leading in tech investment and implementation had to start lagging a bit, and those who were already lagging have likely struggled even more this year. This is why, especially as we move towards a new year, it is paramount to not only understand how and where to get more value out of existing tech but also how to optimize its full potential.

Once a business recognizes where they can get additional mileage out of their existing technology stack, the real value comes in leveraging it to address strategic business initiatives that were previously cited as drivers for the adoption of a new stack. While a refaced technology stack might not provide all of the capabilities required to support these strategic initiatives, the business and technical teams can collaborate on a tactical and strategic plan to drive innovation and growth forward and leverage new capabilities.

Moving business goals forward with a fully actualized technology stack

Particularly now, employees have been managing unexpected hardships and challenges and can be more sensitive to change. Unlocking previously untapped potential in existing tech enables them to do more in a familiar environment, promoting and improving productivity without increasing stress.

Further, by opting for existing technology, versus switching out for an entirely new platform, businesses can enable new capabilities and support key initiatives without incurring the cost and risk of a large-scale migration. Plus, a fully actualized technology stack not only allows for easier application rollout because the platform is a known entity, it subsequently supports workers in continuing their innovation, pushing business goals forward. This is particularly stabilizing for organizations overall as it offers increased functionality and uninterrupted workflow at a lower cost.

While the pandemic has introduced unforeseen stressors to many businesses, the functionality of and ability to pull more value from existing technology should not be one of them. By actualizing the full potential of technology your business already has available and putting it to use, you’re in a better position to not only keep the trains of innovation rolling but keep objectives and goals moving forward, improve employee experiences, save money, and experience ROI growth.

Emma McGrattan

About Emma McGrattan

Emma McGrattan is SVP of Engineering at Actian. In that role, she leads research and development for Actian’s Portfolio. Emma has over two decades of experience leading a global software development organization focused on innovation in high-performance analytics, data management, integration, and application development technologies. A recognized authority in data management and analytics technologies, Emma holds multiple patents and is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences. Prior to joining Actian, Emma was Vice President for Ingres at Computer Associates. Educated in Ireland, Emma holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from Dublin City University.

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