man working on distributor tech stack software on tablet

Key Considerations When Adding to a Distributor Tech Stack

MDM SHIFT 2022 Panel Discussion Takeaways

At this year’s MDM SHIFT conference, attendees dove into the future of distribution and left with actionable change management to bring back to their businesses and additions to a distributor tech stack. Above all else, SHIFT provided distributors with the tools and insights they need to navigate uncertainty—an area White Cup is quite familiar with helping.

Among the topics covered over the three-day event were digital transformation and becoming a digitally-powered distributor—another area White Cup is very familiar with helping. This is why we were glad to see our very own Brian Friedle, VP of Business Development, sitting on Nautical Commerce’s panel on the topic of maximizing value in your tech stack and helping drive your future tech portfolio needs.

The panel consisted of leaders from White Cup, MDM, Unilog, Infor, and Nautical Commerce. They covered finding the right tech fit in a sea of ERPs, PIMs, and AI options before diving into the importance of getting your technologies to communicate with each other seamlessly. More so than anything else, they stressed managing complexities, auditing your current tech stack, and defining the future priorities of your business.

Managing complexity and maximizing value in your tech stack as a distributor comes down to three steps.

Key Considerations When Adding to a Distributor Tech Stack

Step 1: Picking the Right Tool

Of course, the discussion had to begin with acknowledging the explosion of distributor tech stack options that have popped up in recent years. With such a vast array of options, it’s become more important and difficult to find the right one that fits your business.

Ryan Lee, founder and CEO of Nautical Commerce, emphasized the value of being a B2B business: the relational component of the sale. Maintaining those relationships should be top of mind when considering where you need technology. Put simply, automate the things in your business that don’t impact your customers’ experiences. And keep the meaningful parts of your customers’ experiences in your hands.

Other panelists added that communication is key to your successful selection—whether that be in transformation, motivation, resource management, or setting expectations. When you’re adding a new tool to your business processes, over-communicate.

Step 2: Implementing the New Technology

Steve Levy, Vice President of Enterprise Architecture for Infor, considers this the risky, scary phase. If there’s anywhere projects break, it is in the implementation.

Brian Friedle added that implementation is never going to be perfect. Celebrating milestone victories along the way can help you see the project through to the end. Defining what success looks like and remembering that change takes time can make all the difference in successful implementation. Embrace what has worked before and use new technology to augment your tech stack, not restart your business altogether.

Step 3: Integrating the Solution with your Current Tech Stack

We wish we could say that it’s all smooth sailing after implementation, but truthfully, integration is also a significant challenge. However, the payoff is worthwhile.

In this stage, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) enable communication within your tech stack. According to Levy, APIs are the critical piece of the puzzle that architects must understand to see what dots need to be connected and what programmers use to connect the dots.

However, there is no sense in fixating on APIs if there isn’t a considered training plan and accompanying organizational change management (OCM).

An OCM plan should keep your entire organization on track with a centralized plan of attack. It will lead to faster adoption by your teams and also arm users with the knowledge to use the new tool effectively.

Finally, the panel shared that projects are 80-95% likely to meet objectives with a strong OCM, while projects with a weak OCM are only 16% likely to meet objectives.

Communicate for Growth

Throughout their session, the panelists reiterated how vital communication is at all stages of adding a solution to your business’s tech stack. When planning for the future, no single solution can be applied to all businesses; it comes down to each individual distributor’s tech stack needs. However, with the principles outlined by these leaders, growing pains can be eased, and distributors can continue to a future of growth.

Read how White Cup helped grow one distributor’s tech stack and sell faster using CRM and Business Intelligence technology.

Featured Resources

Read, watch, and learn ways your business can grow with revenue intelligence tools.

Take The Easy Path

With our industry-specific revenue intelligence tools, making smart decisions from your data has never been easier.
Talk to Us