We’ve all heard the claim that robots, AI and automation are here to steal our jobs. While we can’t promise that the robots won’t take over at some point, some of this is wrong. Automation can actually help you do your job better, especially with the use of integrations that can businesses reduce admin costs, increase task efficiency and support better customer experiences.
If you’re new to integrations, this best-in-class guide will get you started in understanding how integrations can aid you right now.
A very short history of integrations
Once upon a time, businesses built ‘bridges’, better known as APIs, to connect internal systems that used to exist in information silos. Imagine if your marketing department didn’t talk to your sales department, but both were going after the same prospects. It’s simply a waste of time, money and effort. The only way to resolve this is by building avenues of communication and creating rules and parameters around these shared tasks between the systems.
DEFINITION:API is short for application programming interface, APIs are like little translators that allow different applications to communicate with one another.
Nowadays as the use of integrations have flourished, businesses are turning outwards and are building bridges to connect our products to others in order to better serve everyone.
What are integrations
Imagine you’re trying to join two LEGO blocks. Except, they are disproportionality different sizes. One’s stud (the bumpy things on top of the block) isn’t fitting another’s hole. You’re getting frustrated as you’re trying to build a LEGO bridge, but you can’t build it because the two blocks you’re playing with do not fit together. These are those information silos I was talking about earlier.
Integrations bring in the addition of a new block that has studs that fit for one, and holes, that fit for the other – allowing you to connect the two. We referred to them earlier as APIs. Joining them via specially built ‘connecting blocks’ allows them to communicate together in a way you couldn’t achieve before.
DEFINITION: Integrations give us the ability to connect multiple applications to each other, then allows them to share specific data and information in a way that benefits users.
Now, imagine this time that instead of two LEGO blocks, you’re a hard-working employee who wants to make sure their Google Calendar reminders talk to their Microsoft Outlook inbox. Every day you make plans via email with clients or colleagues, which you then have to replicate in your Calendar. Again, it’s frustrating having to manually re-type and copy all this information from Outlook into a new event into Calendar every time you want to do so.
Wouldn’t it be easier if Outlook recognised you were putting together a meeting and pushed it automatically to Google Calendar?
In order to do this, these two apps need to be able to:
- Talk: build APIs that bridge this communication barrier
- Share information: these APIs also constrict what information can be shared back and forth within certain parameters
- Defines a trigger: Outlook recognising email users chatting about a planned meeting
- Defines a desired action: Google Calendar creating a new event
This is the crux of integrations.
Who can use integrations
Your employees can.
Your customer can (with your help).
Your supplier can. Your partners can.
Your business, as a whole, should.
Most working people today will benefit from the use of integrations
There’s also an integration for every industry, whether its construction or healthcare or education. There are always administrative inefficiencies or innovative opportunities to use integrations to work more optimally.
CALL OUT: Check out our Integrations marketplace here and get started searching for MessageMedia integrations with apps you are currently using.
This is all nice, you’re thinking, but can we see some real-life examples? We’ll take you deeper into more examples later in this series, but here are some we prepared earlier:
A healthcare clinic might use integrations to support a better rostering of staff to meet patient demands.
An education provider might use integrations to improve parent teacher communications.
A retailer might utilise integrations in order to create a frictionless customer experience.
The point is, the opportunities with integrations are endless. What you have to do is personally assess your business challenges and figure out, either by imitation or innovation, where integrations can serve you best.
Why use integrations
Essentially, integrations can make your work life flow better, especially when it comes to business productivity.
By allowing chosen data and information to transfer easily between multiple applications (almost like a copy & paste), you’re:
- saving time
- increasing task and process efficiency
- reducing error
- driving greater customer engagement
As any business continues to expand and evolve, they need to be able to respond to new market conditions like COVID-19, fast. They also need to be able to develop or scale solutions to meeting any growing pains or opportunities.
Final thoughts and further reading
In early 2020, MessageMedia built our integration marketplace to support businesses in creating better streamlined workflows between MessageMedia and a range of applications. You’ll find some integrations are available directly within your current software, while others may use third party applications like Zapier.
Now, in less than five minutes, you can connect SMS to any of your existing business applications. Discover how you can integrate MessageMedia today.
In Part 2 of our Integrations 101 Series, find out what the best integrations are for your business are.