Technology platforms have proven to be vital assets for businesses of all sizes. Yet having multiple platforms in place doesn’t always equate to smooth sailing. As a leader, you need to find ways to make sure you get all the upsides (not the downsides) from your software, systems, and other tools. Often, that means taking advantage of marketplace solutions aimed at helping you maximize your cross-platform operations.
To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with using multiple platforms at once. It’s a great strategy that can help you grow your organization quickly. Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce outlined a report that studied the effects of technological platforms on smaller companies. The report found that 84% of businesses that leveraged six or more technologies saw a bottom-line boost. Nearly as many experienced an uptick in their sales.
These figures bode well for you if you’re interested in improving your internal ecosystem with platforms. However, you can’t afford to overlook the obstacles that can come when you incorporate many platforms into your workflows.
Understanding the Pitfalls of Multi-Platform Adoption
Perhaps the biggest roadblock that’s common to multi-platform use is attempting to use them together. Some platforms aren’t built to “talk” to one another. Frequently, team members will discover this right away. When they do, they may decide to simply move data manually between the platforms. While this makes sense in a pinch, it can eat up their precious work hours. It can also lead to human error, which can necessitate additional time spent on data hygiene.
A second concern with using multiple platforms involves the end user. Customers and clients expect a seamless experience with the brands they trust. As a Gartner study showed, 85% of professionals involved in developing stronger consumer-corporate relationships planned to compete on user experience. That’s not possible when the user experience is frustrating between cross-platform errors and delays.
Another final reality of using many technology platforms revolves around training and access. If the people using certain platforms aren’t well-trained in those platforms, they won’t be able to make the most of those platforms. For instance, your digital marketing administrator may be tasked with using a platform that he’s never been officially trained on. Out of exasperation, he may only use the basic functions of the platform and ignore the higher-level ones that require more education. This means you — and he — only get a small benefit out of the platform.
The good news is that these and other multi-platform usage challenges are avoidable. The following best practices will help you and your team achieve a higher degree of success with the platforms you choose.
1. Seek out additional tools and integrations to iron out the wrinkles.
Your first course of action should be to sit down with your colleagues and identify their daily snags. What are they experiencing most often when working across your platforms? What difficulties are they having? Are those difficulties isolated to one department or are they happening to everyone in your workforce? By asking and answering these questions, you can create a “hot list” of items to correct.
For example, a common challenge between customer relationship management (CRM) systems and email providers (e.g., Outlook, Google) is making sure all data is synced. It’s not unusual for the same contact information to have different fields in two different systems because one system hasn’t been updated. The same holds for calendars. When multiple people are adding calendar items through dissimilar platforms, calendars can become messy and inaccurate.
In this type of situation, you would want to invest in a tool to provide real-time integration and syncing. In 2022, Cira Apps launched CiraHub, an SaaS product designed to provide instant two-way and multi-way syncing of contact and calendar data between different platforms. CiraHub removes the need for your team to manually keep their contacts and calendar items accurate and updated when hopping between tools. The result is a seamless interface between the apps you use most, like Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 entities, Pipedrive, and Hubspot.
Every year, more integration tools come onto the market. Keep an eye out for them. By staying on top of what your company needs most for optimal collaboration, you can streamline your operational efforts across your business.
2. Test and retest the end-user experience.
You can’t assume that your B2C customers or B2B clients are having an unparalleled experience with your company. Every few months, set up a laboratory environment in your company to test the customer experience. Be sure to evaluate all touchpoints, starting with top-of-funnel awareness and ending with brand loyalty.
In addition to your testing, ask for constant feedback from buyers. Send out surveys, conduct online group discussions, and do whatever you can to elicit insights. You can’t make changes in your ecosystem if you aren’t aware of problems. It’s especially important to probe every time you add a new technology platform into the mix. Instead of spicing up your recipe, you could end up with a recipe for disaster.
When you realize that you have a user experience hitch, look for ways to fix the difficulties efficiently and permanently. For example, you may discover that users are fatigued by all the pop-ups on your site. However, you don’t want to get rid of pop-ups because they can increase conversions by around 11%, on average. One idea is to either use your current tools or add new tools to only show pop-ups when they’re relevant. In this case, “relevance” could be driven by a user behavior or demographic.
One word of note: Be sure that you don’t get into the habit of collecting consumer feedback only to shelve it. Listen to what’s being said to you. Learn from it and leverage it to get stronger, as well as get more power from your platforms.
3. Put a premium on platform education and upskilling.
Do you wonder if you’re getting the most bang for your buck with your platforms? You might not be, particularly if your employees aren’t drilling deep into all your platforms’ features. Many times, workers only scratch the surface when it comes to using their preferred platforms.
The obvious answer to this problem is upskilling. And when you upskill your team members, you could get a nice morale and engagement lift, too. A full 65% of professionals told Gallup they evaluated employers based on how many development opportunities the employer gave employees. Consequently, if you give your people more room to grow their abilities, you may also end up beating back employee turnover.
You can take many different routes when it comes to increasing everyone’s confidence on a platform. Some cloud-based platform providers offer free extra training onsite or online as part of your subscription. Others may charge a fee to have their consultants work with your teams. Or, you may want to hire outside platform experts based on their reputation and experience.
The more your people know how to use the platforms they interface with, the more juice you’ll squeeze from those platforms. You may be surprised at the opportunities your company’s been missing, all because the potential of your platforms went untapped.
Technology platforms can help you move your business into a more competitive spot. However, you first need to make sure they’re integrated, they’re improving the customer experience, and you’re using them at their fullest capacity.