Even home computer users know what a hassle it is to work on different software applications. Especially when is just to get one thing done. This often involves switching between applications like word processors, spreadsheets, and email applications just to get the information you need.
Now, multiply the number of applications you need to work with by 5 or 10 and increase the data substantially. Now we are talking about a process that is even more complex. Simply put, in a business setting, this leads to a loss of productivity and efficiency. As a result, this could lead to a loss of revenue.
What if there was a way in which you could connect all these systems and data and have them available in one place? Fortunately, there is. Integrations are the answer, and, in this post, we’ll help you understand what integrations are and how they work.
What Are Data Integrations?
Years ago, most companies only had a few applications they used to run their businesses. Nowadays, things have changed. Businesses use a variety of applications that help them manage everything from their marketing to their sales, operations, and customers.
For property professionals, these applications, for instance, include a CRM, marketing tools, verifications/referencing software, property management software, and more. Although all these tools can help companies be more efficient and productive, they do pose a major challenge.
You see, each of these tools collects vast amounts of data, often in different formats. As a result, this leads to siloed data that is locked into every platform or tool. So, although companies gather all this data, they struggle to realise the full value of it.
The solution to this problem is data integration. By definition, it’s the process of taking all the data gathered from various sources and combining it into a single, unified source of truth. This allows companies to analyse and gain valuable insights from it.
A typical example of data integration is where a property professional loads new landlords or tenants into the estate agency’s CRM application. Data integration will then make it possible to use this data in all other systems. For example, its marketing or email or referencing automation platform.
What Is a Software Integration?
In contrast to data integration, software integration does not rely on unifying the data into one source. Rather, it focuses on allowing different applications to communicate with one another.
You can almost think of these applications as passengers on an international flight. Because they come from different countries, they typically speak different languages, so they’re unable to communicate with one another.
Now, if you put a translator on the plane that can translate all the different languages, they would be able to have a conversation.
Similarly, software integrations allow you to connect different applications so that they can share the data locked inside of each application. A perfect example would be, for instance, where a real estate agent loads a new property into the estate agency’s property management application.
Software integration will then allow the new property’s data to be available in all other systems. For instance, a referencing software.
Have you heard of API?
Traditionally, when companies wanted to integrate different applications, they needed to use custom code specifically written for these applications. The problem with this approach is that custom code can become complicated to write and maintain. Especially as new applications are added to the application ecosystem.
Application Programming Interfaces or APIs solve this problem. Simply put, an API acts as a software intermediary between two applications that allow them to communicate with each other. And you get to deal with APIs daily. For example, when you check the weather on your phone’s weather app, the app retrieves the weather data from the application where it is stored through an API.
Likewise, when you make a flight booking through a third-party travel platform, that platform connects to the specific airline’s API. The API then uses your booking request to retrieve the available flights, prices, and seats.
What is an iPaaS?
Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a set of tools that allow companies to integrate applications that are deployed in different environments. In other words, with it, companies can develop integrations between applications deployed in the cloud and on-site without the need to install and maintain any new hardware or APIs.
To allow companies to do this, iPaaS platforms typically provide pre-built connectors, maps, transformations, and business rules that aid them in the development of applications and the orchestration of integration flows. These tools make it easier for developers to build, test, deploy, and manage their software that resides in the cloud and speeds up the development of integrations.
Why Do You Need Integration?
With data becoming increasingly important in day-to-day business activities, it’s easy to see why you should consider integration to ensure that you get value from your data. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the benefits of integration in more detail:
- Data management. Probably one of its biggest benefits is that, when integrated, data becomes easier to manage. In addition, it eliminates data silos and makes it easier to access data across an entire company. In other words, it makes it simpler to gather data, analyse it, and gain valuable insights from it.
- Facilitates a unified view. Because it allows companies to easily access and analyse data from a variety of different data sources in one place, it gives them a unified view of their customer and their business. This, in turn, makes it easier for anyone to access important data no matter where it’s generated.
- Improves collaboration. Due to the data from various systems being available across an entire company, no matter what the department, proper integration improves collaboration. This allows teams to make data-driven decisions quicker.
- More efficiency and productivity. Because data integration facilitates effective data management and a unified view of a customer or company’s data across the entire business, it allows it to be more efficient and productive. In turn, this allows it to improve all its business processes from marketing, to sales, and customer service.
How To Get Started With Integration
Integrating all your systems and data will allow you to get a unified view and be more efficient and productive. However, this isn’t always possible at first. This is due to the fact it takes a fair amount of planning and can be quite complex, especially when starting with integrations.
As a result, it’s advisable to start small. Here, you’ll need to determine your goals for integration and plan and prioritise what data or systems you’ll want to integrate first. Once done you’ll need to decide on the appropriate solution to do this and implement the solution. When this integration runs trouble-free you can then move on to the next. In this way, you’ll ease into the process and make it much simpler to implement.
Are you ready to start integrating?
Companies are now using more data and systems than ever before to ensure that their businesses run smoothly and efficiently. Unfortunately, this often leads to data silos and them struggling to access all their data at once. As a result, they don’t get the full value from their data and the insights it provides.
Fortunately, integrations are an effective solution to this problem. With it, you’re able to make your data available across your entire business. Ultimately, this enables you to streamline all your business processes and be more efficient. And when you’re more efficient, you’re able to maximise profit.