Platform Wars: Finding Your Right Tech Stack

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  • 1/21/2020

    Looking to expand your tech stack? Not sure where to start? When choosing a platform for your business it is important to evaluate all of your options thoroughly. If the terms "headless" and "decoupled" sound like a foreign language to you, it may be best for you to consult an experienced agency. The front end development department at thunder::tech says

    Far too many times we have had clients come to us with a messy portfolio of solutions that are causing issues. As developers, it is our job to research, understand and strategize on behalf of our clients to recommend the best solution for their business. 

    There’s an app for that. 

    And for that.

    And that, too. 

    There's an app, software program, plugin, you-name-it-widget for just about every single thing you'll ever need (or won't need) in business. You've got solutions for email, mobile apps, websites, e-commerce sites, CRM, IoT devices and so much more. The problem is, sometimes, we find ourselves ad-hoc adding these individual solutions onto our tech stack without much regard to the silos and cumbersome integrations until it becomes a messy web that's tough to untangle.
    Traditionally, there have been two approaches to marketing platforms: monolithic and decoupled. The monolithic approach usually involves the big guys like Salesforce, Oracle and SAP who offer a suite of solutions that are feature-rich and integrated, but they come with a matching price point. You may not need all those features and some features may not be as sophisticated as you need them to be. You get what you get as one big package deal. 
    A decoupled approach takes just the features you need from individual companies that specialize in those solutions. While the features are in-depth and robust, you typically end up with integration problems and several separate organizations, budget line items, invoices, and contact people.
    "There are so many different micro-decisions and platforms that serve very singular purposes within your marketing stack, that if you're not on your toes and if you're not intentional about where, what cost, and what dependencies are being laid out in front of you, then you can be sort of flatfooted and shocked when something bad happens," said Bruce Williams, Vice President Development Department at thunder::tech. "As you add on, just know there's always give and take. They're raising their rates next year, or they're sunsetting, they're literally folding their business, or they're getting bought by a bigger player."
    Recently, a new option has risen in popularity that gives marketers a third way to manage marketing content. The oh-so-creepily-named "headless" platform is built for omnichannel marketing, where companies want to redistribute content across multiple outlets. (Worth noting: it's called that because there is no front end or "head." Got it?)
    Headless platforms are content management systems that store, manage and deliver content without a front end. These use APIs to plug into things like mobile apps, websites, email platforms or wearables while tying in with a company's CRM and content on the back-end.
    “A big trend we are seeing at Kentico is that enterprises are using their content in ever more diverse ways. It’s no longer just about a website,” said Eric Webb, VP of Sales - North America for Kentico Software. “The content management industry is undergoing a significant shift toward solutions that support the use of components and modular approaches.” 

    It’s All About User Experience

    The combination of flexibility to choose solutions based on your specific needs with the ease of integration across channels is appealing. The most important thing is considering the right approach for your specific requirements and goals, and delivering a positive user experience across channels. Your solution can be monolithic, decoupled or headless depending on each company’s set of factors. 
    “There are more choices available and the best choice will vary according to specific customer needs,” Webb said. “If a marketer wants to continually improve their performance, they will want to think about how different tools can work together to deliver more value.” 
    Today's content management systems are moving more toward a digital experience platform or DXP. The sole purpose of a DXP is to create the best possible experience for customers using or interacting with your digital products.
    "You have a lot of different disruptive forces right now and traditional CMS content management systems that have tried to expand their feature set to include more of that holistic omnichannel kind of toolset," Williams said. "That's what essentially makes up that DXP, the digital experience platform, where you could spin up an experience, a site, an app, all using a single framework."

    Exploring Your Options

    Choosing whether to go with a monolithic solution, a decoupled approach or a headless platform depends on what your company’s goals are, what your budget is, and what resources you have available to you.
    “Monolithic platforms have a lower barrier to adoption,” Webb said. “They are a good option for a less mature marketing organization that needs basic functionality out of the box. But they can be limiting if the organization is more mature in their marketing, or is expecting to grow rapidly.”
    Decoupled options work best for companies with minimal budget, resources and feature needs. If you know exactly what you want and don't expect mass expansion or anticipate increased needs in the future, it gives you more control over exactly you're paying for if you pick specific tools.
    With headless marketing solutions, marketers have more latitude to address more complex needs like content personalization, localizing content, or delivering content on different channels. 
    Any expansion of your tech stack should be a formal decision that involves several internal departments and stakeholders. Tech, finance, sales, marketing and customer service should all be at the table because ultimately, everyone has skin in the game and each department can feel both positive and negative repercussions.
    So step one? Develop a road map. With a strong strategy in hand, find a suitable partner who has seen the digital marketing systems landscape evolve and how different organizations are navigating the changes. They'll be able to recommend a customized solution that will fit your company's needs based on how they've seen different scenarios play out with others.

    Download the Full Book

    Not sure where to start with developing your tech stack? thunder::tech can help! Contact us today to explore all of your options. 
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