The Strategic Value of Consolidating Your Tech Stack

The Strategic Value of Consolidating Your Tech Stack resized

When we first started integrating technology into our day-to-day work, it seemed like a no-brainer to adopt any new tool that could improve our productivity. However, as the years wore on, workers became inundated with an ever-growing list of solutions.

We now have an app for everything: project management, IT tickets, photo editing, e-signatures – the list goes on. In fact, according to Gartner, the average knowledge worker uses 11 applications regularly, up from just six in 2019.

While technology plays a critical role in business success, this explosion of tools brings unintended consequences for organizations. Simply put, more isn't always merrier when it comes to workplace tech. Optimizing your tech stack - the core applications and solutions that power your operations - is key to shaping efficiency and fostering productivity.

The Hidden Costs of Tech Bloat

The rapid proliferation of workplace apps has led to a state of tech bloat at many organizations. While adopting new, specialized tools was initially meant to boost productivity, the tides have turned. Today, having too many disparate solutions introduces serious hidden costs across multiple dimensions:

  • Employee Frustration and Disengagement

    When workers have too many tools at their disposal, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to know which to use for each task. This app overload can lead to frustration and disengagement. Already, only 33% of employees feel engaged in their work - a number that unnecessary tool complexity can only further diminish.

    An unwieldy tech stack can also hinder productivity and drive top performers out the door.

    25% of employees would even consider leaving their jobs due to not having the right tools or sufficient training. 

    That’s because top performers want to focus on their core jobs, not waste time juggling disparate apps.

    The consequences go beyond just disengagement. When employees lack access to the right tools or don't understand how to properly utilize approved solutions, they inevitably seek out unauthorized workarounds to get their jobs done, introducing significant security and compliance risks to the organization.

    Training can help, but it becomes increasingly difficult to provide comprehensive enablement as the tech stack bloats. With so many niche tools, there simply isn’t time in the day to offer training on all of them, and expensive software investments commonly go underutilized as users can't gain full mastery. A streamlined, consolidated stack allows training efforts to target only the most critical, widely used applications, maximizing learning impact.

    • Runaway Spending

    This proliferation of tools isn't just detrimental for workers; it's also a strain on your wallet. When an organization's tech stack grows unwieldy, the costs can quickly spiral out of control. Gartner estimates organizations maintain an average of over 125 different SaaS applications, totaling $1,040 per employee annually. Remember, they also estimate workers only use 11 apps, indicating a large percentage of this $1,040 may be wasted on underutilized or even unused solutions.

    The pay-as-you-go model of SaaS makes cost creep easy. With new apps being adopted in siloes across the business, spending opacity reigns. Extra licenses, overlapping functionalities, and zombie subscriptions steadily drain budgets until costs bloat out of control before anyone notices. By then, it's often too late to reign in expenses.

    Lack of visibility also prevents organizations from negotiating volume discounts or consolidating redundant tools. These wasted expenditures may be avoidable with a streamlined, centralized approach to technology procurement and management. Without a mindful tech strategy in place, businesses leave themselves vulnerable to unchecked SaaS spend, which is projected to balloon by 20% to total $247.2 billion in 2024. Reining in this spending creep is crucial to maintaining lean, cost-efficient operations.

    • Shadow IT

    IT workloads have increased by 60% or more since the pandemic, and overburdened IT teams simply can't properly support the overwhelming number of tools across the entire organization. In fact, Gartner reports that IT is typically aware of only one-third of the SaaS applications in use across the company due to decentralized ownership and procurement. This lack of visibility is a major risk.

    As a result, the proliferation of niche applications inevitably opens the door to shadow IT, the practice of individual departments finding their own solutions to meet needs and managing them independently, outside of IT's control. 

    By 2027, Gartner predicts 75% of employees will acquire, modify or create technology outside IT's visibility – up sharply from just 41% in 2022.

    When IT lacks the bandwidth to support a bloated stack, shadow IT runs rampant, introducing significant security, compliance, and cost risks. Without a consolidated, well-managed tech stack, teams are left to fend for themselves with unauthorized apps and workarounds that IT can't properly vet, secure or control. The result is a wild west of technology usage that leaves your organization vulnerable and budgets spiraling out of control.

    The Consolidation Solution

    As the downsides of tech bloat become increasingly apparent, more organizations are prioritizing consolidation efforts to reduce costs, improve efficiency, mitigate shadow IT risks, and ease the training/management burden on employees and IT teams. But where to start? The key is taking a systematic approach.

    Consider this consolidation strategy:

    1. Audit your current application ecosystem. Use surveys, interviews, and data analysis to truly understand what tools employees use daily versus occasionally versus never. With this insight, you can identify areas of redundancy and opportunities to displace niche apps with broader platforms.

    2. Seek out comprehensive solutions that can consolidate multiple needs. For example, an all-in-one work hub like Microsoft 365 could handle team collaboration, task/project management, knowledge sharing, and business operations - displacing several disconnected point solutions. Prioritize flexibility to adapt as needs evolve.

    3. Execute the consolidation strategy thoughtfully. Engage stakeholders early for buy-in. Implement the new streamlined stack in phases with extensive communication, training, and feedback loops. Don't lose sight of the end goal: a lean, purposeful tech stack that maximizes productivity while minimizing costs and risks.

      The Bottom Line: Less is More

      In today's hyper-connected world, it's tempting to seek out a specialized tool for every task. But amid economic uncertainty and rapidly shifting business landscapes, the necessity and ROI of each application warrant close scrutiny – especially when managing multiple vendors adds complexity.

      As companies reevaluate and optimize their operations, consolidating the tech stack represents a key opportunity area. Bloated technology environments drain resources, hinder productivity, and introduce risks that could be averted through judicious pruning and standardization.

      The solution is deceptively simple: Identify the core problems you need technology to solve, find an integrated platform solution that can address many of your needs, and be thoughtful as you build from there. Keep your tech stack lean and purposeful.

      In our era of tech overload, less is often more when it comes to workplace technology. It's time to rethink your approach and strategically consolidate your stack.

      Read more about why proper SaaS management is critical in today's climate and what best practices to implement. 

      SaaS managementvendor consolidationtech stack