Technology Stack. What Is It and Why Do You Need It?
Jul 25, 2017 by Michelle Bruno

The term “technology stack” can have several meanings. It is both a descriptor and a tool that event planners can use to understand the role that specific technologies play in their events. Visualizing a technology stack can help planners make better technology decisions, address challenges, and save money.

What is a technology stack?

A technology stack, sometimes called a solution stack or software stack, can refer to all of the components needed to make a system work.  An event website, for example, requires software in four categories: operating system, web server, database, and programming language.

Another way to think of a technology stack is as a collection of software. For instance, within the Microsoft Office “stack,” customers can find Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Each of the software products performs different tasks, but they all work together on the Microsoft platform.

A third way to understand the technology stack concept is as a visualization of all the software needed to achieve a goal.  Stacks could be developed for marketing, sales, creating an attendee experience, collecting real-time data, or mapping the customer journey, to name a few.

While it’s likely that the software developers who created the term “technology stack” were referring to software, a more general definition might also include hardware.

Why event technology are stacks important for planners?

Event planners can benefit the most from tech stack visualizations. Consider, for instance, a tech stack that identifies all of the technology that attendees are required to use for a single event:

By looking at this grouping or stack, planners can start to ask some questions. Is this too much technology for attendees to learn? Do any of the features of stack technologies overlap (many mobile apps also do polling and Q & A as do second-screen apps)? Are there critical attendee requirements that aren’t being addressed by any of the current technologies in the stack?

An event tech stack is also an inventory of existing tools. It can produce insight on some important topics:

Technology expenditures: Stacks can help planners make decisions about whether a new technology will be a good fit or an unnecessary expense. If, for example, the current stack addresses 90% of attendees needs, how much should the organization spend to get to 100% and where should they spend it?

Process automation: The visualization of a stack can help event organizers see where data integrations could optimize the attendee experience. Let’s say that an attendee registers and indicates that he or she is interested in water purification in third-world countries. If that data were shared with the matchmaking app, it could be possible to automatically set up appointments for the attendee with other attendees (or exhibitors) interested in the same topic.

Strategic direction: A technology stack represents the strategic choices of the event organizer. For instance, an event planner might want a networking app in the stack because she wants to make more, better attendee relationships an outcome of the event. But the reverse can also be true. Looking at what the various technologies in the stack can do (for example, provide a better understanding of the attendee journey through wearable beacons), can direct planners toward some new and specific outcomes for the event.

Where an event technology stack can take planners

An event technology stack is a way to match the goals, processes, and budget of an event with the growing number of event technologies available to meet them. It can challenge event planners to think about objectives like the best stack, most economical stack, or most integrated stack. As technologies become even more embedded in the business of delivering face-to-face meetings, planners need more and better ways to ways understand the event technology ecosystems they create. Event technology stacks can help and so can the technology experts at SmartSource Rentals.

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