Why is My Tech Stack Not Helping Productivity?

tech productivity

By Derek Thompson

The UK makes huge investments in IT. It is considered the most important capital expenditure after buildings. According to the Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Britain spent 4.5% of its GDP on IT last year compared to the US’s 4.1%, 3.3% in France and 3.1 % in Germany. Yet despite substantial investments in IT tools that are expected to enhance operational efficiency, productivity in the UK is falling; new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveal that UK productivity levels are lagging behind other countries in the G7. 

So, what is behind this discrepancy between investment in IT and output? Investment in technology that sustains legacy systems could be one explanation.​ Tech talent shortages or​​ b​arriers to the adoption of technology by employees is another. 

A fundamental issue affecting enterprises of all sizes today is a fragmented IT stack formed of disparate technology systems, applications, and tools. This is because the focus has been on buying various software, which address​es​ a specific business objective, without considering the wider strategy to support overall workflow and efficiency across the business. The result is increasingly disconnected data, fragmented workflows, and broken user experiences.  

Unravelling the challenges of a fragmented tech stack 

Integration is crucial for smooth data flow and collaboration between different systems. In a fragmented tech stack, integration becomes complex and time-consuming, leading to data discrepancies, manual workarounds, and limited visibility across the organization.  

Customer data can become splintered across many touch points such as leads in marketing apps, customer or sales info in CRMs, payment info in ERPs and ticket information in support apps. In  

order to make use of this disparate but valuable information, enterprises are manually correlating data – using employees’ valuable time to carry out mundane tasks. 

When data is stored in different systems, it creates data siloes making it challenging to gain a full comprehensive view of the business. It prevents the business from gaining valuable insights to make data-driven decisions and ultimately hinders innovation and the ability to leverage the full potential of technology investments. 

A fragmented tech stack also often lacks scalability, hindering business growth and agility. Each additional system or tool requires individual management and maintenance, straining IT resources rather than alleviating time and resources to enable scalable workflows that can foster innovation and scalable customer experiences to impact the bottom-line.   

A shift in mindset 

Up until now, technology has been organised around individual tasks and applications. Companies need to take a bigger picture view of how they understand and orchestrate processes across systems and teams. This requires companies to rethink existing operating models and focus on orchestrating siloed applications, data and people into a connected network of end-to-end processes. 

The role of automation and AI 

Industries and businesses worldwide are turning their attention to automation to drive efficiencies. In its recent Forecast: Enterprise Infrastructure Software, Worldwide, 2020-2026, 2Q22 Update1 report, Gartner predicts that the global integration and automation technologies* market will reach close to $39 bn by the end of 2026, up from about $24bn in 2021. These technologies help organisations increase their efficiency and reduce costs, improve customer and employee experience, achieve greater business agility, provide real-time business insights and enable faster and more pervasive innovation across the organisation.      

There are other macro trends that are bringing forward-thinking organisations across sectors to realise the benefits to be had from both integration and automation. These unsurprisingly include the continuous thrust toward digital transformation. According to the Gartner 2022 CEO Survey – The Year Perspectives Changed2, 54% of leaders want to “maintain their new digital pace” and 35% expect to “go for higher digital vision and ambition”.   

Other notable trends include the growing adoption of ‘hyper automation’, where enterprises seek to automate as many functions as possible as quickly as possible. Finally, we are seeing the rise of the ‘composable enterprise architecture’, which is helping organisations achieve faster cycles of innovation and much greater business agility by developing new applications via closer IT and business collaboration. 

The rise of low-code/no-code automation alongside AI is allowing solutions to be implemented more quickly and affordably. They can be continually adapted — without getting bottlenecked behind other, unrelated teams and projects. When AI is integrated into everyday workflows too, productivity and efficiency can reach another level. Together, this democratizes the power to innovate throughout the company. Nearly anyone with an idea for how a process can be automated and improved can bring it to life. Plus, integrating AI with automated workflows within the business enhances security and privacy compared to using AI externally. 

It’s all in the process 

Using automation, AI and integration to resolve a fragmented tech stack is the first step to increasing operational efficiency, productivity, innovation and scalable growth. However, if a company is going to support the speed and scale of transformation, processes must be democratic and engage the whole team across the business by making integration and automation technologies available to business operations such as finance, HR, sales, marketing and customer support.   

A focus on real-time processes must also be at the centre of integration and automation initiatives so the company can benefit from real-time outcomes when certain business events occur. To amplify impact, processes must be AI-backed and community powered so that the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented and businesses can benefit from collective expertise and skip the errors already been made before. 

What is exciting about the new digital era is this level of transformation is now accessible to almost any company. We still need the big picture, transformative vision for companies. But the cloudification of the tech stack, of data platforms, and the explosive growth in APIs and connected devices makes transformation of core workflows dramatically easier.  

The rise of enterprise low code platforms and the utility-like consumption of these technologies make it possible now to engage the entire team across business and IT to support the scale and speed required of modern business transformation.

About the Author

derekDerek Thompson, Vice President and General Manager, EMEA at Workato  

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