In the past, people just accepted tools and apps as they were, but today, there’s a huge push to make everything work together — with an easy set-up and a seamless result. What are the benefits of integration, and why is it important to take integration into consideration when you’re choosing a software to use? In this article, we answer these questions, and more!
What’s the deal with integration?
In a nutshell: for most companies that are already relying on tools and platforms to streamline their workflow, integration is the obvious next step.
Consider this: a few decades back, tools such as SoGoSurvey or Xero were unheard of. If you needed to survey your customers, you’d create a survey, and then manually send it out to your audience. If you had to take care of your accounting, you’d pull up your Excel spreadsheet, and painstakingly record every transaction or sale.
Fast forward a few years later, and companies started to have more tools at their disposal, and they used these tools to streamline their processes and automate certain tasks. Obviously, when adopting this new technology, each company had to grapple with a learning curve, so that was a challenge in itself.
That said, now that most companies are familiar and comfortable with these tools, the question is no longer: How do I use this tool to optimize my workflow? Instead, it’s: How do I maximize the value that I get out of this tool, and use it in tandem with my other tools? In other words, the next frontier has become integration, and the goal is to have all the apps and tools that you’re using function together seamlessly (instead of working as disjointed, separate pieces).
The benefits of integration
There are two primary benefits of integration. First, integration allows teams to work more productively; on top of that, it also gives teams the ability to leverage their data and use it to fine-tune their strategies.
Now, the first benefit of integration (increased productivity!) is pretty straightforward. Here’s an example: Say a sales rep is checking in with a lead on the phone, and this lead mentions that they’re thinking of signing up for the product/service, but they’ve been experiencing some problems with the software.
Assuming that the company’s CRM system integrates with their customer service platform, the sales rep can easily sift through this lead’s customer service enquiries, and pinpoint exactly what problem this lead is facing. There’s no signing in, no loading time, and no toggling between screens required — this saves time, and gives your lead a better experience.
Productivity aside, integration also allows companies to glean more insights about their data. While most organizations are good at collecting data, it’s common for organizations to struggle when it comes to analyzing data to arrive at meaningful insights. Typically, this boils down to the problem of having your information reside in separate data silos.
For instance, if you use both SoGoSurvey and Salesforce, your survey data would reside in your SoGoSurvey account, with your customer data staying in your Salesforce account. This makes it difficult for you to identify patterns, draw parallels, and look at the bigger picture. Here’s where your integration comes in: simply integrate SoGoSurvey with Salesforce, and you’ll be able to marry your transactional data (survey feedback) with your relational data (customer demographic), and scrutinize the results.
Aside from allowing you to do a deep dive with your data, this integration also helps you to use each tool to target your users with a more granular, refined approach. When you pull data from Salesforce, you can customize your SoGoSurvey survey questions based on the demographics of the customer. For example, a client who has been a client for 3 years can be asked one set of questions, and a new client can be asked a different set of questions. On the flip side, when you push data into Salesforce, you can also set up Workflow rules to trigger certain emails, update fields, etc., based on your survey results.
How do integrations work?
If you’re using an on-premise system (which is pretty rare these days!), you’ll typically use an integration platform to connect your other SaaS applications and tools with this system. The largest ERP vendors (Oracle and SAP) have their own proprietary tools that you can tap upon, but if your vendor doesn’t provide an in-house solution, you can tap middleware platforms such as Django, GlassFish, or WebLogic.
What if you’re trying to connect two (or more!) cloud-based applications? In this case, you’d commonly use an Application Level Integration (API) to move data between the two applications in real time. These days, APIs are a core component of any cloud-based application’s strategy; according to reports, Salesforce generates nearly 50% of their annual revenue through APIs, and Expedia generates a whopping 90% of their annual revenue through the same.
A final word on using integrations to drive more success
Internally, integrations help your team do more with less; externally, they help you respond to your customers more quickly, and provide them with a better experience. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to set up and capitalize on whatever integrations you have at your fingertips — and when adding a new software or tool to your toolkit, make sure it integrates well with your existing tools.
PS: Have you heard? We’re proud to announce that SoGoSurvey’s partnership with Zapier is now live! Contact our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org for an exclusive invite!