TLDR: Investing in the integration of the digital systems, can dramatically increase business efficiency, reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks and increase customer satisfaction.
As technology becomes more and more an integral part of the way we do business, and with so much data needing to be passed between various systems, the time we spend on the management of data can at times, be excessive.
How much time is wasted on the formatting of spreadsheets for differing business activities?
Often, this formatting is to enable data to be shared between platforms, whether for the sales pipeline, marketing activities or performance analysis.
The uptake of cloud software has enabled developers to make use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to effectively allow these software solutions to communicate with one another and automate the process of sharing data. Websites can automatically send new inquiries to the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software where it can be picked up by the sales team. The CRM can then send data to the email marketing software for remarketing purposes.
Not only does this sharing of data make the process more efficient, but it also makes it much more accurate and less prone to human error.
Here are some examples of the type of processes that can be automated:
and much, much more.
The sharing of data is somewhat tied to the availability of an API for a particular software package. If a piece of software has no API available, then developers are unable to make use of it, and the task of sharing data remains one of manual input. With that in mind, we would suggest that businesses and organisations choose their software wisely. Ensuring a comprehensive and well-documented API is available early on means that, when the time is right to invest in automation, businesses will not need to change their platform or waste money on fixes for poorly documented APIs.
In all our projects, API integration is identified as a risk due to the number of poorly documented APIs available. To help mitigate this risk, we have put together a list of the best-documented APIs that we have used.
We advise young businesses and start-ups, to not look for the cheapest solution as it will likely prove costlier in the long run. Instead, look for a group of products that suit your requirements and offer flexibility, scalability and well-documented APIs to help ensure there are no issues in the future. Once data is entered into a system, getting that information back out can be an arduous process.
For established businesses looking to automate their processes, all is not lost. There is the task of transferring data to a new system that can seem daunting however, scripts can be written to facilitate this transfer. Alternatively, custom APIs that sit between the products and act as a message carrier can be written to transfer the data between various systems, albeit at a high cost and developers do need access to the database to be able to do this. The investment that this kind of development requires can be well worth it in the long run when we look at reduced overheads and the benefits of enhanced customer experience further down the line.
Digital transformation is the term that has been bandied about to describe this process of automation. In essence, it means taking a holistic approach to digital activities, interconnecting all systems and ensuring resources are freed up to increase productivity.
In a business landscape where customers are connected and sharing information at all times, the speed of response from businesses and organisations is expected to be instantaneous. The level of communication is expected to be much higher than it has ever been in the past. By automating these communication processes, a user's experience of your service lines up much more accurately with their expectations. Meeting expectations leads to trust, and trusted businesses are successful businesses.