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September 29, 2015
Introducing the stacks approach to enterprise technology
By: Matthew Johnson

Introducing the Stacks Approach to Enterprise Technology

A new way for IT teams to conceptualize enterprise technology in the cloud era

What technology might your organization need to fulfill its customer experience goals?

How do you decide which type of platform and which specific solution best fits your needs? 

If you want to support what goes on behind the scenes, you’ll need a workplace productivity platform. If you want to improve direct customer interactions, you’ll need CRM. And the list goes on… But in all cases, you can integrate applications on top of these platforms to further automate activities. 

So which is the right platform and what are the best supporting applications to choose? Why should you choose one over another? That’s where the stacks approach comes into play.

WHAT IS THE STACKS APPROACH?

The stacks approach is a new way to conceptualize enterprise technology. Traditionally, we’ve looked at technology in a single stack. However, as the number of platform and application options continues to grow in the cloud era, a multi-stack view can help determine which of these solutions is the best fit for your business and its existing technology architecture. While the stacks approach is not one-size-fits-all (each business might have its own slight variation), the following model is a good place to start:

Data, Integration & Analytics

This model includes three layers:

  1. Enterprise competency domains

  2. Platforms
  3. Integrated applications (which form the stacks)

Underlying all of this is a base layer of data and analytics, which might fall into any one stack or serve as a bridge between multiple stacks.
 

The first layer, enterprise competency domains, encompasses five key areas of focus that are integral to most every business:

  1. Customer engagement (how you market to, sell to and service customers)

  2. Administrative management (how you manage resources)

  3. Performance management (how employees get work done)

  4. Request servicing (how you manage internal customers)

  5. Core competencies (activities that are unique to your business or industry)

Next, you can add technology platforms to automate each of these domains. These platforms typically include:

  1. CRM to automate customer engagement

  2. ERP to automate administrative management

  3. Workplace productivity to automate performance management

  4. Service management to automate request servicing

  5. Industry-specific/homegrown systems to automate core competencies

Finally, you can further develop these platforms and build up your stacks by adding layers of integrated applications. For instance, you might add collaboration tools, knowledge management, file sync and share and calendar applications to the workplace productivity stack or IT, facilities, HR and legal applications to the service management stack

The key here is to understand that not all stacks are symmetrical and that each stack is not set in stone. Some stacks might be higher than others based on ecosystem maturity and unique business needs, and the height of these stacks (aka the number of integrated applications for each platform) might change over time as ecosystem maturity and business needs change.

WHY DOES THE STACKS APPROACH MAKE SENSE FOR THE CLOUD ERA?

In general, it’s common for applications to move from one stack to another over time as these factors change, although the rise of cloud technology has contributed to a lot of significant changes in recent years

Going forward, as more and more organizations move to the cloud and move more applications to the cloud, we can expect to see even more changes. That’s because when your organization outlines its cloud strategy and plans for cloud adoption, what you’re really doing is rethinking your stacks.

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