With 89% of companies putting digital-first strategies into play, the power of technology is hard to ignore. As a business leader, it’s critical to be aware of the digital tools on the market, as well as how each one can transform your operations and results. 

In this guide, we’ll show you how to build a tech stack that propels you forward in your industry instead of keeping you stuck in the past.

What is a Tech Stack?

A tech stack is the set of digital tools that an organization uses to fulfill their daily tasks as well as their long-term goals. It encompasses all of the software, web applications, and other tools that are core parts of how you operate.

The term “tech stack” most commonly refers to the combination of programming languages, software products, web servers, operating systems, and other tools used by software-as-a-service (SaaS) and development teams. 

However, as more and more brands move their operations onto their computers and mobile devices, tech stacks are no longer exclusive to the app, web, or software development process.

Today, technology stacks are also used for a variety of reasons, from digital marketing and sales to human resources and analytics. Instead of helping just one arm of your business succeed, you can build a tech stack (or multiple tech stacks) that encourage the growth of your entire organization.

Why Businesses Need Tech Stacks

Whether you run a startup that’s working toward a minimum viable product or a large corporation that’s seeking greater productivity, you can benefit from curating the right set of tools for your team.

Your technology stack is the digital structure behind your business or, in some cases, specific departments of your business. It defines how the different parts of your organization fit together and interact. By doing so, it creates a map for your team members to follow so they can create ideal outcomes for your business faster.

The most successful tech stacks can streamline all of your processes and help your team be more efficient. As a result, you may notice improvements in your bottom line soon after implementation.

Beyond its day-to-day operational purpose, your tech stack can also help you solve problems when you hit any bumps in the road. With the right tools, you’ll be able to adapt and bounce back quickly, no matter what you confront.

The Components of a Tech Stack

Every tech stack looks different—it all comes down to your unique needs as a business—but in general, most tech stacks include the following components.

1. Operating System

The operating system is the software that manages your computer’s hardware and software resources, such as memory, storage, and installed programs and applications. Popular examples of operating systems include Windows, macOS, Linux, or Chrome OS.

2. Web Server

A web server stores the files necessary for websites to be displayed in web browsers. The most common type is Apache HTTP Server; other examples include Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) and Nginx Web Server.

3. Database

A database is an organized collection of structured information and data that can be easily accessed and updated as needed. This may include user data, products, pricing, etc. Examples include Oracle Database, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, Informix, Sybase, MongoDB, MariaDB, etc.

4. Frameworks

A framework is a set of reusable code libraries designed to speed up development by providing various functions and features to developers out-of-the-box without having to write code from scratch each time they develop an application or website. Popular frameworks include AngularJS, React JS, Ruby on Rails, Spring Framework, .NET Core among others.

5. Programming Language

A programming language is used by developers as a way to communicate with computers and create instructions for them based on their input parameters and desired output results. A programming language is often tied directly to the framework you choose, so keep that in mind as you build your stack. Commonly used programming languages are Java, JavaScript, Python, C# among others .

6. Browser

Browsers are used by users to access websites or applications from the World Wide Web; examples include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Opera etc . They interpret HTML code into webpage visuals that are easy for humans to understand and use on their devices—computers and smartphones alike.

Tech Stack Tools and Types

1. Marketing Tech Stack

Tech stacks aren’t always built for teams that are familiar with digital backends. For instance, you can create a tech stack for a marketing agency or marketing team. These tech stacks may include the following elements:

As you can see, there’s no need for highly technical tools here. These tools can be a good fit for a marketer’s specific needs and expertise.

2. Web Development Stack

You’ll need a web development stack as you start to develop your business website. From front-end to back-end to full-stack development, every business has unique needs. Here’s a look at what the beginning of a “Ruby stack” (popularly used by teams working on web applications) may look like for a development team:

  • Framework: Ruby on Rails
  • Software: Ruby Version Manager (RVM)
  • Data tool: MySQL
  • Web server: Apache
  • Programming language: PHP, Ruby

3. Sales Tech Stack

A sales tech stack is a combination of different tools used to facilitate sales activities, such as data collection and analysis, customer relationship management (CRM), customer service, marketing automation, and more. By integrating these solutions into one comprehensive platform, companies can track leads more effectively, automate mundane tasks, improve customer service delivery, and increase sales conversion rates. 

The potential benefits of having an effective sales tech stack cannot be overstated. Having access to real-time customer information allows businesses to make better decisions faster, while automated workflows help speed up the entire process from start to finish. Plus, having multiple channels of communication (like email campaigns or social media outreach) integrated into one platform means companies can reach customers on their preferred contact method quickly and efficiently. 

Examples of tools typically included in a sales tech stack include: 

  • CRM systems: Salesforce, Copper 
  • Data analytics solutions: Tableau, Domo 
  • Customer service software: Zendesk, Intercom 
  • Email marketing services: Mailchimp, Marketo, Constant Contact

4. E-commerce Tech Stack

E-commerce tech stacks are an important tool for small business owners to consider when setting up their online stores. A tech stack is a combination of different software applications, programs, and tools that come together to form an e-commerce store. These tools can help entrepreneurs maximize the efficiency and success of their websites by automating manual processes and improving customer experiences. 

An e-commerce tech stack can include: 

  • Shopping carts: Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce 
  • Payment gateways: Stripe, PayPal 
  • Fraud detection and prevention tools: Signifyd, Riskified 
  • Analytics and reporting platforms: Google Analytics, Accuranker 
  • Website optimization tools: Hotjar, Optimizely 
  • Content delivery networks (CDNs): CloudFlare, Akamai EdgePlatform 

6 Successful Tech Stack Examples

As you start to build a technology stack that works for your company, reading through examples of existing tech stacks that other companies use can help point you in the right direction. Here are a few popular tech stack examples.  

1. Spotify Tech Stack 

  • Application and data tools: Python, Java, Bootstrap, Amazon S3, Google BigQuery
  • Utilities: Google Analytics, Optimizely, Twilio SendGrid
  • DevOps tools: Docker, Datadog, TestFlight, Percy
  • Business tools: GSuite, AdRoll, Desk.com, Blossom

2. Airbnb Tech Stack

  • Application and data tools: Amazon EC2, Java, JavaScript, MySQL, React, Ruby
  • Utilities: Google Analytics, Twilio, Lottie 
  • DevOps tools: SmartStack, GitHub, New Relic, Webpack
  • Business tools: Asana, G Suite, InVision, React Sketch.app, Slack

3. Uber Tech Stack

  • Application and data tools: Python, Node.js, Java, MongoDB, Golang
  • Utilities: GoogleAnalytics, PayPal, Twilio, Braintree, Ludwig
  • DevOps tools: Terraform, Prometheus, Jaeger, M3, Brunch
  • Business tools: G Suite, Asana, Zendesk, Delighted, Mattermost

4. Dropbox Tech Stack

  • Application and data tools: Python, MySQL, Amazon S3, Rust
  • Utilities: Google Analytics, Framer, Hackerone, Bugcrowd
  • DevOps tools: Sentry, Pingdom, Nagios, Phabricator
  • Business tools: Slack, G Suite, Asana, Balsamiq, Zendesk

5. Netflix Tech Stack

  • Application and data tools: Python, Java, Amazon RDS, Hadoop, Oracle, Amazon EMR
  • Utilities: Amazon SES, Urban Airship, Falcor
  • DevOps tools: Github, Git, Jenkins, Gradle, Vector
  • Business tools: G Suite, Confluence, OneLogin

6. LinkedIn Tech Stack

  • Application and data tools: jQuery, React, Java, Box, Microsoft Azure
  • Utilities: Google Analytics, Dyn, Okta, Recurly, ClickTale
  • DevOps tools: Jenkins, Bugsnag, Salt, Gemfury, Apache Ant
  • Business tools: WordPress, Confluence, Adobe Experience, DocuSign, Unbounce

How to Choose and Build the Right Tech Stack

As a whole, your tech stack can be a significant investment for your business. Creating one that you’re fully confident in can help you avoid costly changes and wasted time. Below are four tips to help you build the most effective tech stack possible.

1. Prioritize a Strategy

It can be tempting to put your money toward any tool that sounds like a great idea, but before you do so, you must figure out the purpose behind your investments. 

With your overarching business strategy in mind, think about what you need to operate, as well as what’s necessary to reach your long-term goals. This is the first step to creating a tech stack that’s perfectly suited to your company and helps you operate like no other. 

Many businesses will find it helpful to think about what they want their customers to experience before developing a tech stack. For example, when building a mobile app, an app development team may identify critical components for the front-end or client-side, before they create the building blocks with a tech stack on the backend or the server side. This will ensure that you’re focusing on the user experience from the get-go, which can lead to greater customer satisfaction in the long run.

Also, be sure to set a budget as part of your strategy to avoid getting overzealous with purchases.

2. Do Your Research

Before committing to a specific tech stack, weigh your options. Don’t just settle for the cheapest tools or the most popular, cutting-edge options. Select the tools that bring the highest value to your business and help you streamline your processes. After all, you don’t want to force your team to constantly switch between apps.

You may want to consider your company’s industry and niche, then find digital tools that directly cater to it. Some business tools will allow you to get a free trial, while some may be open-source and accessible to anyone.

If you need to include more technical elements in your stack, consulting with a skilled member of your team or a third-party expert can help you identify the best options. For example, a software engineer will be able to break down the pros and cons of programming languages like JavaScript versus Python, or a style sheet language like CSS versus a markup language like HTML.

3. Consider Your Users

Your team members will be the ones using your tech stack daily. As such, it’s crucial to consider their needs when selecting the tools they’ll be using.

One of the most critical questions to ask yourself is how tech-savvy your team members actually are. This will help you determine the level of training required for any given tool.

If you don’t have an in-house IT team, asking yourself this question will also help you identify whether or not you have employees who can help solve problems during and after the implementation stage. If not, you’ll want to find tools that are simple to navigate or even come with quick customer support services.

You’ll also want to consider how easy it’ll be to shift from your current tools to the new tech stack. When implementing any organizational change or digital transformation, businesses experience failure 70% of the time, often due to resistance from team members. 

To prevent this failure, consider if your desired tech stack presents a natural shift, if it will affect your current culture in any way, and how you can best present it to your team as a positive change.

4. Seek Adaptability

Finally, your tech stack should encourage you to scale. Before you commit to a set of tools, weigh your current business trajectory and goals against the limitations of the digital tools you’re considering.

Beyond making sure your tech stack can hold up against your company’s growth, you’ll want to confirm it keeps pace with changes in the greater market. If a tool is continuously making updates as consumer expectations shift, this is a good sign that it will be beneficial to you in the long term.

5. Consider Time to Production

When building your tech stack, it’s important to consider time-to-production. You want to choose tools that will help you get up and running quickly so you can start producing results as soon as possible. 

When possible, look for open-source software that is already developed, instead of investing in custom development or complex builds. Additionally, don’t forget about proper testing procedures that can help reduce the amount of time needed for deployment. 

6. Keep Scalability in Mind

As your business grows, your tech stack should also grow with it and remain scalable. You want to choose tools that will support you at every stage, through quick growth and through times of consistency. Look for services and options that allow ease of scaling without sacrificing performance or reliability. For example, cloud infrastructure provides flexible scalability which makes adding new features and capabilities much easier than traditional on-premises systems do. 

Additionally, look at ways to automate processes so that they can scale along with your business without increasing time investments from staff members or manual intervention from administrators.

Create a Structure That Works

When it comes to tech stacks, there isn’t one size that fits all. Every organization—and sometimes, every department of an organization—has a set of tools that’s unique to their needs and goals. By hand-selecting your tech stack(s), you can optimize your business operations and increase productivity across your entire company.

For more inspiration about improving your digital framework, take a look at our guide to the best collaboration tools that your company can use.

Hally Pinaud
Hally Pinaud

Hally Pinaud is Vice President of Product Marketing at Podium, the premiere marketing and communications platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

Adapt the way you do business. Press send.