British astronaut, Major Tim Peake, takes data to new dimensions as he closes out Big Data LDN 2023
Article contributed By Chris Mills, Head of Customer Success, EMEA at Slack.
As costs rise and purse strings are tightened, technology leaders are faced with the eternal dilemma of trying to get the most out of their ever-shrinking budgets. Investing smartly in the technologies that help a business thrive without disrupting existing processes is therefore more important than ever.
Yet, despite their best intentions, many organisations have deployed more apps than they actually need and consequently suffer from a severe case of "tech bloat".
This issue is particularly acute within large businesses, which have an average of 187 applications in use. These organisations are only aware of approximately half of the tools in their tech stack and around a third of these apps are duplicative or add no value, highlighting the huge potential for efficiencies.
When it comes to business technology, often, less is more. A spiralling number of apps can be a drain on budgets that could be better invested in new initiatives or talent.
It also creates an unnecessary drag on tech teams who lose time to maintenance, management and security demands. And that’s without mentioning how it leads to disconnected teams, overwhelming notifications and confusion over where to find information.
The good news is this challenge can be solved relatively easily and cost-effectively. Here's how technology leaders can reverse this damaging trend that has gotten hold of too many businesses and use the resources freed up in the process to help build a leaner, more effective and productive organisation.
Starting with the toolbox, not the individual tools
A lack of an overarching digital strategy and a single platform to house work is what often leads to tech bloat and duplication in the first place. It’s why technology leaders end up finding they’ve got ten hammers in their toolbox, so to speak, but not a single screwdriver.
Rather than trying to plug every individual gap with a separate tool, those leaders need to look at the bigger picture - the toolbox. Today, the most useful toolboxes are multi-purpose productivity platforms that not only come with built-in features, but can also extend by integrating with a wide range of individual applications. Think of them like the Swiss Army knives of business tools.
For example, if the technology team is using Jira to drive product management, having an integration for it means custom notifications can still be shared directly into the productivity platform, so no updates are missed.
Meanwhile, a GitHub integration can instantly provide the latest activity on code reviews while Zendesk shares updates on tickets. Instead of having to swap between these apps, a productivity platform keeps every update in one place.
By taking this centralised yet customisable approach, businesses can reduce bloat by easily identifying duplicate tools while also streamlining access to the different elements of the Swiss Army knife when teams need it. And with all information and updates from different sources feeding back into that one platform, all the knowledge needed to work effectively is there, ready to be searched, shared, and actioned across the organisation.
Banishing legacy software
While moving to a platform approach to the tech stack is one way to reduce bloat and the issues it creates, like stretched budgets and overworked tech teams, it’s also vital to move workplaces away from archaic ways of working. Too often teams still rely on decades-old software for broader collaboration and communication.
And of all the legacy solutions that holds teams back, none is as persistent (or problematic) as email - which leads to siloed information, poor visibility of work progress and chaotic organisation of activity.
One business that recognised the pitfalls of email and took swift action is mobility leader Bolt. They realised that tools like email were not able to keep pace with their strategic demands: email lacked prioritisation, defaulted to being closed off rather than connected across the business, and this silo-effect led to an inability to easily share knowledge.
By moving to a productivity platform, like Slack, that clearly structures conversations on specific topics, projects, or teams into their own channels, Bolt almost entirely eliminated internal emails.
And with a default to transparency, all information in those channels can be easily discovered, with relevant messages, documents, and more identifiable in just a few clicks.
The benefits of moving away from legacy approaches to work isn’t limited to reducing the number of emails cluttering inboxes. Bolt’s also been able to automate 325 workflows thanks to no-code solutions built into their productivity platform - further accelerating work and reducing the amount of context switching and unnecessary noise teams face in their daily work.
Embracing the potential of AI
By centralising all tools and removing unneeded legacy apps, technology leaders will be able to invest some of the resources they have freed up into future-proofing their organisation.
With the AI-era well underway, businesses are rightly looking at new areas where they can deploy powerful technology to accelerate and help automate common tasks. The impact can be transformative, with new research revealing that those that have adopted AI are 90% more likely to report higher levels of productivity than those who have not.
However, it’s important that a rush to embrace the latest solutions doesn’t create bloat in the tech stack - and that people continue to check the output from generative AI tools to avoid putting decisions at risk due to ‘hallucinations’. Businesses should embrace the next phase of work but it’s important to approach AI and automations thoughtfully.
By using generative AI tools like ChatGPT on a secure productivity platform, teams can quickly surface knowledge and insights from around the business and make the most of their own trusted data. It can also help reduce the time spent on day to day tasks like summarising conversations, or drafting messages, directly in the platform where teams are working.
This is another reason why a platform approach to the tech stack is so important: it prepares a business for the future. By integrating AI features rather than bolting them on separately, IT teams can ensure they meet necessary data and security standards. Meanwhile, employees can start using the features to accelerate their work and build new workflows, knowing that they’re plugged into the business’s existing work context.
Preparing for a more efficient future of workplace technology
Waves of innovation have meant there are more applications available than ever before. And with the AI market growing at a 50% faster rate than the overall software sector, the number is only going to rise.
Yet while many of these tools offer value, businesses need to integrate them effectively to mitigate the issues that bloated stacks create.
This is key because it can turn into a competitive edge if some organisations adapt these tools while others don't. A focused strategy that trims the , invests budgets wisely and takes advantage of new innovation has never been more essential.
With a productivity platform as their foundation, businesses can place themselves in the pole-position to take advantage of the efficiency gains available from the next evolution in workplace technology.
Prepared with that versatile Swiss Army knife, even as times change, they’ll always have the right tool for the job available - all without being weighed down by unnecessary bloat.