To give a few examples, there are software cloud services for Customer Management Relationship Software (CRM), Payment Processing, Content Management, Sales Pipeline Management or Email Marketing.
The amount of apps that support digital companies is growing exponentially, and this trend will only increase in the future.
Companies are starting to use the best tools for each business function, and getting extremely professional results for really a competitive price.
The problem until now has been to integrate all those systems effectively so that data could flow faster between each of the systems.
In the past there were two ways to make data flow between systems. The first solution was to extract the data manually and input the data into other systems. The alternative would be to hire a developer to perform system integration through the APIs of each of the different Software Services. In the former there is ineffective manual work that had to be done on an ongoing basis. In the latter there is high cost of integration and testing until the systems could start talking with each other, which in many cases made the investment unreasonable.
With the raise of Cloud Data Integration Software like Zapier, Workato or MuleSoft, to mention a few, the integration of those systems is becoming extremely fast, efficient and cheap.
Let’s give an example of the power of the integration services. Lets imagine that Company Cars To Your Door has a car fleet business.
The company takes payments through a payment gateway system, has a CRM to manage contacts, distributes email marketing through another system, and is also using a SMS system to communicate to customers.
In the past the systems could live in silos. This means you could take a payment through a payment gateway. Once payment is processed, the Cars To Your Door would then add manually that person to the CRM, and after add the customer to the email marketing system. Cars To Your Door would finally add the mobile phone number to the SMS system to confirm the booking through an SMS to the customer.
As you can see, this process is extremely manual, and it would involve doing a repetitive task with each customer.
The alternative would be hiring an API developer to integrate the systems for the business case you could envision. The problem with this if a new use case comes to mind, you would need that specific developer to do the integration again. Same would happen if any of the systems evolves to provide new services or integrations.
With Cloud Data Integration Software creating new use cases is relatively easy. It involves selecting the apps to integrate, the data you want to be exchanged, and testing that the data flows. Once this step if done (and this takes around 10 minutes to do), you are ready to go.
This gives new super powers for startups and solopreneurs to manage the customer experience in a much more controlled and professional manner.
Let’s review the previous use case, presented in the context of Cloud Data Integration Software.
With this software Cars To Your Door could now make sure that when the payment gets through, the contact is added to the CRM, a confirmation email is sent, and an SMS is sent to confirm is all done. It would take one hour to make all integrations, and a cost of $20/ month in the case of Zapier, and $50/month in the case of Workato.
Now Cars To Your Door could analyse implementing new use cases with the already integrated systems or with new services that are appearing in the market.
To give an example of integrating a new software solution to the mix. Let’s imagine there is an AI software service that can detect in an extremely precise what people say (which could be the case of a company using Microsoft’s CNTK to create this product) , and detect the specific tone of the voice of its customers.
Cars To Your Door could create an app that uses this service, and when a customer requests a cab, this software would detect the customer, and answer with his name (which would be obtained in the CRM) and ask if the customer wants a car to go to his house. After booking is performed, Cars To Your Door could confirm the booking through an SMS.
This in the past would have been extremely expensive for any company to build, but if the AI voice recognition software service could expose the APIs to the Cloud Services Data Integration, the only cost would be the monthly price of this new service, plus the cost of the already used integration data software.
If the new use case covers the cost of the new service, integrating would be a no brainer. And if you are not sure if the cost is covered, Cars To Your Door could test the solution, measure conversion, and decide to keep this integration or remove it after a trial period.
The biggest challenges for startups and solopreneurs is deciding which software services are best suited to the needs of the business, and make the correct use case to cover the expenses of the new service integrated into product or service.
It’s a matter of correctly choosing which software solutions to use and which use cases using those services provide more value to customers.
The conclusion for me is that Cloud Data Integration Software is shifting data integration paradigm from “Does the cost of data integration cover my investment?” to a new paradigm of “Which integrations should I do to support better my business?”.