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System integration: What to do when your digital products don’t talk to one another

Toby Callinan is 6B’s Technical Architect. He’s responsible for designing how products will work and then managing a project, whilst offering support and liaising with clients throughout a project’s lifecycle. 

Below, he talks about system integration, answering the question: is there a better way for your systems to interact with each other?

We’ve all been there…

You’ve got one application open on the left side of your screen and another on the right, copying content from one app to another.

But is this the best you can hope for?

It’s time consuming, and there’s a strong possibility of human error – as the person carrying out this task tires quickly from the repetition.

In some cases, this act of copying and pasting is business critical.

Decisions about the future of the business will be made from the consolidated document, but there’s a chance that the data is inaccurate, outdated, or – well, you get the picture.

If you aren’t the ‘Copy & Paste-r” in your business, we can almost guarantee there’s someone fulfilling this role on a daily basis within your organisation.

Not only is a considerable amount of time wasted doing this kind of activity, but money on wages is being thrown away when, really, the time, skill set and effort from these individuals could be better allocated to value-adding work.

At 6B, this is a common struggle for many of the clients we partner with in the beginning – and it often boils down to their digital products just not knowing how to talk to one another.

This blog should give your team direction on what to do to solve this classic integration challenge.

A shift in mindset: software solutions that work for you

It isn’t just copy and pasting where resources could be better utilised.

The scenarios of different documents and data being stored across multiple locations are examples of where most businesses are employing processes that don’t encourage efficiency or productivity.

Essentially, these businesses are conforming to the limits of existing software, rather than searching for software that works with them, and their unique ways of working.

Generally speaking, applications are designed and built to perform limited, specialised functions.

What we see here at 6B, is businesses, just like yours, working with several pieces of software and doing their level best to bring them together.

These apps form the cornerstone of the business and without them, you’d have little to no visibility on business performance.

Therefore it’s imperative that these apps communicate with each other in a fluid and flexible way.

Is there a better way?

In short, yes. But every business is different.

The way you operate, the processes you adopt and the tools you deploy are unique.

So the shaping of those processes and your workflow need to be considered and supported by a defined strategy, maximising efficiency and profitability.

What your business is calling out for is for data to be unified – to be centralised and standardised.

Your apps need to interact with each other without human interference, enabling the exchange of data and functionality in an easy, reliable and secure way.

It’s often hard to know where to start with this though, which is why partnering with a technical specialist on integration makes a significant difference.

For example, our team get under the skin of your business with an extensive discovery process, uncovering what makes you tick and how you work.

All of this research then informs a digital strategy with an integration solution that’s built to support your processes, KPIs and future business goals.

There are two fundamental approaches you can take to achieve this:

1.The bespoke solution

Build an application that works the way you want it to, incorporating your processes and workflows at the heart of its design. The solution will enhance efficiencies and in turn deliver a greater return on investment.

With this approach, it’s built from scratch to ensure it’s user-centric and focused entirely on your processes. The solution itself can take many forms, such as web app, native mobile app or desktop applications.

2.Syncing data

Another option is to keep your existing applications, but bridge the gap between them.

This will involve centralising and automating data transfers to reduce the manual and repetitive task of copy and pasting, which will ultimately help eliminate human error and complete the process quicker than anyone on your team ever could.

Do you need support with your digital product integration?

Before you reach for the next off-the-shelf software solution to plug a hole and fill a requirement, ask yourself, ‘is there a better way?’.

 

The way your business operates and what you do is inherently specific, so you shouldn’t settle for a generic solution that doesn’t fully serve your users or your future ambitions.

 

Our team has a wealth of experience building enterprise level applications for a wide variety of clients and their needs. You’re just one conversation away from less copy and pasting, fewer errors and more time for staff to be working on the real value work your business offers.

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