The importance of integrations
Updated: Jun 14, 2022
Integrations are usually presented as information that simply goes from one system to another, simply put. But there is a complex workflow behind them, a kind of 'black box' that nobody really sees.
Making it happen
Before choosing a tool that enables the integration of different systems, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. What are we going to integrate, what do we want to achieve and how are we going to make it happen? Today we are using the Workato tool. This tool makes it possible to build a bridge between two different systems, so to speak. In our case, it's the CRM application OttoBee (built on the Salesforce platform) and different systems from the dealership landscape.
“It’s like building a bridge between two different systems.”
-Jelle Van Loock, Data Engineer@LinkedCar
Workato has named us the winner of the Automation Impact Award 2022 (for logistics & transportation). This award validates hard work and shows that we are the frontrunners in our field. The workflows that we have developed in the Workato framework show how we want to achieve our goal with this solution. Our Chief Believer (Mario Schraepen), Data Engineer (Jelle Van Loock) and Head of Clients & Partnerships (Kathy Standaert) went to New York to receive this well deserved award. It's only right to show you some memorable pictures of their trip. 🏆
When we talk about linking two systems, it seems simple, but of course there is a lot involved. On the one hand, you have a DMS-system (Dealer Management System). Each DMS has its own complexity when it comes to linking to it. For example, we can connect directly to a database, or we can choose to connect via an API. This presents some challenges, as not every database or API works in the same way.
We then select the necessary data elements from the system we are going to connect to, and synchronise this data with our CRM application. It is important that all data elements end up in the right place, which is not always easy. To achieve this, data quality plays an important role, an aspect we pay a lot of attention to. Data quality is often forgotten within integrations. Monitoring data quality and adjusting it where necessary ensures that data is synchronised in the correct formats. An example: suppose that in one system your full name is used, but in the other your name is split into first and last name. The same goes for phone numbers, addresses, .. Then we know we will have to work on this to make sure it synchronises correctly. So we look at the format in one system and the expected format in the other system.
In addition to Dealer Management Systems, there are many other systems in a dealership's application landscape, such as quoting systems for each vehicle category. We also integrate with each of these systems. These quotation systems have a different structure, which can make it complex. To get to know and understand each system, our Data Engineer first goes through the documentation. Understanding a system is important to create a correct interface. We always follow this roadmap when integrating with different systems: (1) documentation, (2) structure, (3) data quality and (4) format. The same roadmap for each integration, but each unique system requires a different approach for the different steps. We constantly integrate with new systems, anything is possible. Of course, integration also depends on the data that is available.
Interfaces and direction of synchronization
Interfaces should not be forgotten either. How can we display all that data nicely and transparently so that our customers can easily use our OttoBee platform.
The direction of synchronisation is also considered. Are we only going to synchronise from the source system to the target system, in other words, are we going to set up one-way synchronisation? Or are we going to synchronise information bidirectionally, from the source system to the target system and back? Here we listen to our customer's wishes. Getting to know a system is also important here, because all the data must be written correctly. Once we know where the data comes from and how we should organise the writing of the data, we can start building the workflow. With this approach, we avoid data ending up in a loop and ensure that it is constantly synchronised from one system to another.
Integrations are a very important part of the success of our OttoBee platform, that much is clear. We place great value on data quality in order to deliver the best results to our customers. Wondering if we can integrate with your systems? Feel free to contact us and together we'll see if we can find a solution that fits your needs perfectly.
For more information on integrations, please watch the video below. Our Chief Believer, Mario Schraepen, explains the importance of integrations and why it sets us apart from others in the market.