The One Deciding Factor When Choosing Technology

Even  if you don’t think it needs to now…

Does it…?

Can it…?

Is it allowed to…?

Talk to your other systems.

Because it’s all about INTEGRATION.

In 2005, when I was working for a large public library system, we were using many bits of proprietary software to perform our regular tasks. Our circulation system tracked our books and our materials, our website marketed our services to the public, and our payroll and internal HR systems tracked sick days and work hours. To us, the siloed approach to those systems were expected–or to some–a benefit of protecting the data.

Fast forward to 2014…

The above description seems inefficient, as our online activities  and assumptions have evolved a lot in the last nine years. As consumers, we’re accustomed to the ease in which our systems connect and talk with one another. Our phones can print, our ipads sync with our home computers, our music can be played across numerous devices, and our television shows can be watched anywhere. So when a system doesn’t or can’t connect or integrate with services we are already using, it comes as a disappointing surprise. That’s why as I’ve been researching systems for clients I’m still surprised by the proprietary systems that haven’t done a great job of allowing themselves to integrate and play nicely with others. That’s why, when choosing any sort of new system–be it a website, software or more, my number one priority is making sure it integrates with other systems.

What does this mean?

Well, the simple version is that it each system can talk to one another so you don’t have to do things twice. Think:

  • Connecting with the contact lists that you have already imported
  • Being able to pull key information out of those lists and act on it automatically

or such an idea as:

  • Pushing content out to your social networks

If you are looking for easier solutions to make the two systems talk to one others, there are two things to look for when choosing the technology:

  1. Does the system have internal integration with other services built into it already?
  2. If not, is there an inexpensive app that can connect the two systems (in the way you want them to connect)?

For explanation purposes, I have drawn the two below:

integration

Integration usually implies that the systems exchange data directly and talk to one another. (I just used a website as an example)

app

An app means that you must use a 3rd system to connect the two systems. (I just used a website as an example)

There are some pretty amazing Apps out there, (check out Zapier for example to see how you can connect a ton of different systems), but remember, often, you will be paying for this third-party service. Sometimes, however, the app doesn’t connect exactly the way you’d like it to.  As a result, I have gravitated toward systems that have integration built into them. In these instances, the integration is tested and supported by the software developers making connectivity a key value in the software itself.

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