Friday, May 12, 2017

The power of cloud integration for business IT systems

Before cloud computing existed, data used to reside in individual stores, on different computers, and sometimes within very different ecosystems. Users would have a record for a client in accounting, another in the order entry system, and another in a database of leads. Even emails were hosted on individual machines with only a local access point. To make matters even more complicated, none of these systems would automatically synchronize or intercommunicate; it was a virtual mess!

Thankfully many business systems today operate in the cloud allowing users to, for example, pull emails from a customer relationship management (CRM) system (like ProsperWorks) and with a single click, dial a contact via RingCentral which logs the interaction for productivity reporting and follow ups. Since data now has the ability to flow freely between software, it doesn't make sense for it to live in individual stores any longer. Think of software integration like bridges in a city, allowing traffic to flow freely from one place to another.
Our team at Interlock IT advocates a simplified workflow which eases integration between all of your business systems – phone, email, and software. For instance, allowing calls to be logged in your CRM both in and out of the office, and emails automatically synced to client records in your CRM and accounting software. Our skilled team can perform custom integrations with many other solutions that we may not necessarily resell. Our use of Google App Engine instead of hosted servers and the pervasiveness of modern Open API's with cloud software means integrations are low cost, secure, reliable, and near realtime. Gone are the error prone days of file exports to hard drives and batch import processes that frequently failed due to data structure changes. Modern API's flow through the software business logic layer to prevent issues like posting unbalanced accounting entries. Database or file level integration methods of the past often required duplication of this critical error checking logic and would fall behind as the core software business logic changed.

To illustrate an example of cloud integration, we use Hubdoc to automatically push our monthly phone bill to Xero which codes it to the correct expense account. It attaches the pdf image of the invoice and also saves a copy to our Google Drive where we can take advantage of the world's best search engine to instantly find it again. Enabling auto-pay with our provider allows us to simply let Xero's automatic downloading of bank transactions find the matching payment and mark it as paid. There is zero traditional human data entry required, which in return allows us to use that time towards more important tasks like following up with our customers.

Unfortunately many businesses still use obsolete (non-cloud) IT software that is inherently inefficient and expensive. Even custom integrations of legacy software is generally designed hastily to fill a need but isn't a permanent fix. This usually involves data that is only accessible from one computer and often by only one user at a time, not remotely and collaboratively. In the era of cloud computing, these sort of 'patch-ups' aren't necessary. Cloud computing has opened the doors for powerful software integrations that yield far superior results when it comes to productivity and efficiency. If there's a cloud application that your business needs to integrate, our team is ready to design and deploy it. Contact us today to find out more about how you can unify your workflow and improve your business IT system!