Can you remember life before the cloud? Software was purchased for a one-time fee and downloaded to our computers. If the computer broke down, all was potentially lost. When updates came out, we might have had to purchase new versions. At the very least, we had to download them ourselves. And software packages sold by different companies did not communicate with one another.
Since cloud software came onto the scene, its capabilities have evolved at a pace no one could have predicted. Everything is streamlined, and we can do so much from anywhere in the world, via a laptop or our smartphones. Teams can collaborate and communicate with ease.
But, while all of these breakthroughs are game changing, one drawback remains. All of these cloud solutions have created an ecosystem of data silos. In other words, they still don’t like to talk to one another, even though it’s easier than ever now. For small businesses unable to afford custom solutions, data silos cause frustration and headaches.
Streaming television is a perfect example of overcoming data silos—for the most part. Many of us pay for monthly subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime. But unless you want to watch on your laptop, you still need a way of hooking up these streaming services to your TV. Players like Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Roku were developed to solve that problem. But while most of these players allow you to watch most streaming services, there were still holes. Amazon shows, for example, are not built into Apple TV. Devices like Roku and smart TVs have helped to close some of the gaps, but even they have a few limitations.
Thinking back to life before the cloud, these small complaints seem trivial. But with all the advancements to technology, there is little excuse these days for companies to guard their data. Software packages that open themselves up to integrations with related solutions will deliver real value to their customers and will ultimately be on the leading edge of a growing demand for integrated data.
Small Businesses Need Their Data
Small businesses use a lot of software. Many small businesses tack on a solution when a new need arises. They may start with QuickBooks Online for accounting, add on Gusto when they need to start running payroll, sign up with Salesforce when building out their sales team, and so on.
The problem is many of these awesome tools won’t talk to one another. A business owner trying to get a handle on their finances might need to log into three accounts and do some quick calculations to get a full picture.
The more data is filtered into one view, the more time is saved. Tools that could be helpful but prove cumbersome to manage may fall by the wayside because it hurts productivity more than it helps. There’s also a possibility of miscommunication between teams, which if people aren’t careful, could lead to more significant problems.
No More Traps
The key to integrating software solutions? Adaptive API, or Application Programming Interface. Because we’re so dependent on software, making it easier for tools to communicate and work with one another should be something developers make long-term plans around.
In days past, software companies relied on “trapping” users through a closed API, like streaming services refusing to be made available on certain devices. Behemoth companies like Amazon and Facebook have a little more power to pick and choose where they integrate and cooperate.
Up-and-coming tech companies, on the other hand, are facing fierce competition, and the winners will be those that integrate easily with others. Take Slack, for example. They faced steep competition when they got started. One of their biggest selling points and what ultimately led to their success was their openness. Slack integrates with just about everything. So whatever system you are currently using becomes instantly more valuable when layered with it.
If companies are driven by customer retention, then integrations will have to become a big focus of their business model. Eventually, customers will come to a point where they want all of their tools and applications to work as seamlessly as an iPhone. Integration is the way of the future, and one day we won’t remember a time before it.