Nowadays it’s normal to have and use at least one software in a company, right? A couple of years ago, this wasn’t so obvious; now it is mandatory. Even in the past, companies that had powerful software took it as a competitive advantage; today, it’s no longer an advantage; it is a necessity. Moreover, integrating software is the necessity of today.
It’s worth mentioning that 17% of salespeople name the lack of integration with other tools as the biggest challenge in their jobs.
Software & Hardware
Some time ago, it was necessary to have your own servers, where you kept your systems, your information, and data. In this way, you were “sure” that everything was under your control, in a place you own.
This practice was the most common one. There were well-known installable software pieces available on PCs only.
Even until today, many companies (of all sizes) continue using installable, on-premise software due to internal security policies, or for the simple fact that changing this kind of systems in large and bureaucratic structures is somewhat complex and time-consuming.
Using on-premise software installed locally requires HARDWARE. And hardware (apart from software) is an investment too. You have to keep in mind that the equipment you use today will become obsolete, and you will be forced to upgrade it.
The new era
Today, thanks to the famous cloud communication platforms or software as a service (SaaS) solutions, you will never, ever have to worry about keeping your hardware rack up to date with expensive servers, and even better, you won’t have to worry about security.
How is this possible? Well, to make it very simple, some companies offer the service of working as your server, but in the cloud (via the Internet). So, instead of worrying about the hardware, you handle them the responsibility for it; and for security, too, utilizing HIGHLY renowned certificates. In most cases, these companies are Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services.
What is software integration in the first place?
So, the moment you decide to move your operations to a cloud-based software environment, there are many systems you can choose from. And many new opportunities are available in front of you. One of these opportunities is called software integration. It enables you to connect tools and systems, you would normally use separately, into one platform.
Thanks to connecting them, you allow different solutions and applications to exchange data and communicate with one another. All data is stored in one place; your team doesn’t have to log to different systems to do the same job or find the information they need. Many manual or tedious tasks are automated, and business processes unified. You can bring out the best out of your software and leverage the power of synergy by combining their best features.
Okay, so how can these systems communicate with each other? This is the main challenge of having several software pieces. And this is where the real use of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) comes in.
APIs are defined as sets of procedures and functions that allow various systems and applications to access data or the features of another software or solution. API is a programmable connection between numerous tools that specifies what data can be moved from one entity to another.
In this way and thanks to the technology, you can automate many, many processes that you carry in your organizations using different solutions. Let’s have a look at some examples:
- When a prospect becomes a customer (this happens in a CRM), you want the system to prompt action in the ERP, prepare an electronic invoice, and send it to the new customer’s email.
- Every time you add a new product to your ERP and the stock is bigger than 0, you want the system to add it on eBay and Amazon at the same price, and each price change to happen automatically.
- When someone completes a task, the project management system should let the next person responsible know that they must start with the subsequent task. At the end of this process, the system should send you an automatic email with a PDF of the summary of what was done and the time spent by each of the people with their tasks.
And there are thousands and thousands of other examples.
What types of software or systems can you integrate?
As mentioned above, little by little companies are realizing that they need cloud-based software. But usually, they need several software types, each serving one main purpose.
Software that does everything you need probably doesn’t exist. And if there is one, it’s not a good one.
If you run a small company, you may find software that offers all the features you need. But what I mean is that a global software that covers everything most companies need doesn’t exist. You need to integrate it with other tools to extend its features and capabilities.
These are the main types of systems used within businesses of all sizes:
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
It’s the main actor within each organization that uses it. Companies use ERP to store data from many business activities, where you also have the general management of costs, expenses, payments, collections, spend management, among other things like production, logistics, etc.
- Help Desk Software
Help Desk Software is a solution that enables you to provide your customers with all types of support through various channels. If should include email communication, call center, live chat, possibility to manage social media interactions. All gathered under one roof and accessible in one shared inbox.
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
It is a software that allows you to establish relationships with your prospects before they become clients, and while they are your customers. It can also be used by your salespeople to manage sales processes. (Example: HubSpot).
- BPM (Business Process Management)
Software designed to assist automating internal business processes and workflows. BPM software is commonly used by mid- to large-sized corporations. These systems tend to focus on long-term, ongoing analysis and improvement and allows users to control the clarity of processes and be increasingly productive. (Example: KiSSFLOW).
- CMS (Content Management Software)
A CMS system that allows us to create and manage the content of our website, blog, landing pages.
- HRS (Human Resources System)
System designed mainly to manage the necessary human resources processes within an organization, document the agreements with each of the employees, organize holidays, and more. Could be also any other HR software, such as Toggl or Sparkbay.
These are just a few examples of software types used by companies. They are listed mainly to emphasize how many different solutions are available out there and how different purposes they serve. Each of these systems can be really complex themselves, and they will still require some add-ons or extensions.
What are the benefits of software integrations
1. Data accessibility and synchronization
All data from integrated systems is automatically logged in one chosen platform, thus forming a cohesive and clean database. It happens in real-time. All necessary information is available at your fingertips.
2. Reduced costs and time saved
Do you measure how much time your employees spend on manual tasks like taking notes after a call, filling out forms in your CRM, copying agreements made via email to your BPM? How much time do they need to find the data they need? If you introduce the right software integrations, your customer service agents or sales reps will have time to focus on more important tasks that generate income (closing deals, cross-selling). Their work will be more efficient. Data shows that employees spend 19% of their time on finding resources, documents, and information necessary to do their jobs.
3. Interaction between various parts of the business
Software integrations facilitate the visibility of activities and interactions between different departments and teams within the company. Everyone is better-informed as data is available to everyone.
4. Historical analysis from a single location
Data collected over time on different integrated platforms can be analyzed from a single location.
5. Definition and execution of new KPIs
By having access to more data and information, you can set new targets based on new indicators that are relevant to the company.
6. Decision making based on user behavior
The integration between platforms allows you to focus on users and their behavior, as all data on your customers and prospects are available in one place. You can provide tailored support to the right people, at the right time, personalize your communication or campaigns. There’s no better way to offer an omnichannel customer experience.
7. Determining the profitability of campaigns executed in different media
Since the calculation of the profitability of the carried out campaigns is integrated, it’s easier to discard what doesn’t work and optimize what is useful in a fast and efficient way.
8. Fewer errors
Manual work is prone to errors; many mistakes can occur while employees move data back and forth through various platforms. Software integration reduces the amount of scattered and overlapping data. It makes it safer to make data-based decisions.
Connect LiveAgent with your favorite tools and solutions
LiveAgent offers integrations with more than 30 tools and software types so you can offer your customers outstanding customer service. Integrate your LiveAgent end-to-end help desk with your CRM, CMS, favorite e-commerce platforms, email marketing tools, billing, and project management solutions.