Creating a Sustainable Technology Ecosystem
Businesses in the modern era run on technology. There are probably dozens of applications that you use on a daily basis without even thinking about it — password managers, browsers, operating systems, time trackers, project managers, and more. Generally, they all work together well enough that you don’t give them a second thought.
When it comes to business tools, though, compatibility isn’t a given. The software you use to track inventory might not sync well with your billing system, so you can’t immediately tell how much value is left in your warehouse. To respond to this problem, many companies resort to managing their data in simple spreadsheets, which are inefficient and insecure.
There’s no single app or platform that can handle all the needs of your business, so you’ve assembled a set of tools to do just that. That toolbox of software is also known as your technology ecosystem.
In the same way that an ecological ecosystem describes both the creatures in a given area and the relationships between them, a technology ecosystem isn’t just about the tools themselves — it’s about the way they interact and the way you use them.
Evaluating Your Existing Ecosystem
You can’t build an efficient technology ecosystem unless you can take stock of the one you have. Unless your company was founded very recently, there’s a good chance that you didn’t choose all the tools you’re using at the same time. Like a biological ecosystem, your ecosystem evolved over time as you added pieces.
Your system needs an audit. Your business has changed, and so has your software. Features have been added and changed. New software has been released and old software discontinued. The needs of your business have changed. Even a drastic change in scale, caused by growth in your customer base, can change what you want from your software.
Start by examining the software you already have. Write down the uses of each piece of software, what you’re paying, and how this software interacts with the other tools you use. Do the same for all of your software tools and applications.
Next, identify the weaknesses and inefficiencies in your workflows that can be addressed by implementing a new piece of software. When you find such a process, start with the software you’re already paying for — there’s no need to buy anything new if the tools you’re already using can do the job.
Building a Better Ecosystem
When you do need new software, be careful about how you choose it. Look for software that offers free trials, sandbox demonstrations, and testimonials so you’re spending money on a whim.
Compatibility is crucial. Many of your software tools will have to pass software between them or otherwise communicate, so it’s important to find tools that are equipped to do so. Your time tracker should be able to communicate with your task manager and your payroll software, for example.
This is referred to as integration, and comes in several forms:
- Native integration is built into the software itself, and is the easiest option to implement. Slack has native integration with Asana, for example, so you can add and complete tasks from a chat window.
- If native integration isn’t available, you can sometimes find third-party integrators that import data from one application and export it to another. The downside of a third-party integrator is that it’s another piece of software that you need to learn, manage, and usually pay for.
- The last option is custom integration. Large companies occasionally have such specific software needs that they’ll hire engineers to build customized integration tools to bridge the gap between two applications. Custom integration is generally expensive and difficult, but it can be very effective.
Talk to Madison Taylor Technology
Building a comprehensive technology ecosystem that addresses all your needs, integrates seamlessly, and accelerates your company’s growth and productivity isn’t easy. There are thousands of software tools available, and you can’t be an expert in all of them.
Luckily, we are. At MTT, we’re dedicated to examining every aspect of your company’s needs, goals, and values to determine exactly what software will serve you best. Whether you need a one-time consultation or an ongoing partnership, we’re here to help you navigate the complicated landscape of business technology.
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