Go With The Data Flow: How Integrations Grow Your Business
March 3, 2020
This article was originally published by the Forbes Technology Council.
Today’s business environment revolves around building relationships. From account-based marketing to business partnerships, relationships are the bread and butter of growth for any company, and construction industry players are no exception.
Just as a machine is more than the sum of its parts, so, too, are software integrations. On the surface, they may not seem like anything special, having one piece of software sharing data and information with another seamlessly and with relatively little effort by the end user. But it’s this data flow that allows for automated processes to function and thrive instead of having to manually copy the outputs from hundreds of different, nonintegrated programs to each other.
For example, without Pype’s integrations, our software would still generate draft logs in minutes, but would only export as an Excel spreadsheet. The project engineer would then have to take the additional steps retyping the log into their project management platform, significantly increasing the chance of error and reducing overall benefit.
In an industry like architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), where software is so fragmented that general contractors are desperate for the cohesion that integrated solutions provide, investing time and effort into adopting them is one of the smartest decisions any SaaS business can make.
And it is an investment. Establishing an integration involves the development of an application programming interface (API). Just as humans interact with a given software through the user interface, other software interacts with other software through an API.
If you’ve ever seen a Google map on a website for a company, you’re seeing the end result of the Google Maps API. That API took another six months of time, money and training to develop after the initial app was released, and people hacking into Google Maps to get the location-based information spurned its creation. While ultimately benign, Google rightfully saw the myriad of hackers as a massive security risk.
Google got lucky in that it kicked off the API trend with its Google Maps API. However, now that businesses know better, it will always be safer and wiser to incorporate integrations and APIs into your growth strategy from the get-go.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to develop your own API first thing, but it still takes some work to be the consumer — the software that accesses the API of another software. APIs aren’t just plug-and-play as many believe, and your consumer software needs to be programmed to accept any APIs you want to use. Developing your software without integrations on the road map will only make integrating more and more difficult down the line as new features are added, and that difficulty multiplies exponentially if you end up developing your own API.
If you’re late to the game, you’ll have a much harder time incorporating API integrations into your platforms at all. It’s very different from just dropping in a few extra lines of code. Think of it as renovating a building to add a door. There’s extra work required beyond just installing the door itself, like ripping out already-completed drywall or rerouting wires and other existing infrastructure that is essential to making sure your building doesn’t fail.
Additionally, you’ll have to adapt additional security measures to this new access point. After all, the Google Maps hackers were able to access their system without the API. Launching an API without a fully mapped-out security strategy would be like installing the door frame with no door.
Once you have APIs accounted for in your platform, all you have left to do is reach out to the software platforms that your clients are already using. The integration that results from that partnership should drive their customers to your platform and vice-versa, meaning it’s a win for both parties. With forethought and planning upfront, you can turn potential competitors into valuable partners, driving both of your businesses toward success.