Are you a meeting planner that spends too much time moving data from one software system to another? When you make an update to your conference schedule software do you also have to copy the changes to your website and then again to your mobile app? Do also you need to duplicate your attendee information in the organization’s CRM? How about being concerned with moving financial data from your online registration system to accounting?
If you have one stop shop conference software, you may be able to avoid some of this tedious, error prone work. However, in most cases, there are still CRM, accounting and marketing systems that must also talk to your event management software. There must be a better way than manually pushing data in all directions!
Modern software systems should try to be “open.” This means that they consider the data to be yours and not theirs. To show their commitment to the right of you to access your data as you need, there are two things these systems should do:
- ALL data should be in an easy to export and manipulate format such as an Excel spreadsheet.
- The software should have an “API” or an “Application Programming Interface.” This allows your software integrators to access the system and move data to your other products.
If your current software systems do not provide BOTH of these, you should immediately consider replacing that software. The data is yours, not theirs!
Even if these two requirements are met it is important to consider that an API can be very powerful, but that it also requires software programming, which can be complicated and expensive.
Fortunately, there is now a new class of cloud-based products that may provide the ultimate solution to the software integration problem. This software is called “Integration Platform As a Service” or IPAAS. These products represents a write-once, integrate-many solution for third party software providers such as Salesforce, QuickBooks, or EventRebels. By adding a software product to an IPAAS system, the software, in effect, can integrate with any other software platform also in the system. For example, by integrating with leading IPAAS vendor Zapier, EventRebels is now integrated with over 750 other software providers including Salesforce, Hubspot, QuickBooks, Twitter, Google and many more.
IPAAS is based on user “workflows” that are triggered by a software action, such as a conference registration. A workflow typically takes the data from the original action and moves it to other cloud providers, or even start other workflows. Here is an example of how an IPAAS workflow would work:
- Someone registers for an event via online registration, triggering an IPAAS workflow.
- First step of workflow: store registration data in CRM, such as Salesforce.
- Second step of workflow: store financial information in accounting software, such as QuickBooks.
- Third step of workflow: trigger marketing engines such as social media or MailChimp to start email and social media campaigns targeted at the registrant to encourage joining your organization.
- Fourth step of workflow: Email yourself that this person has registered and update a Google doc.
Besides Zapier, other leading IPAAS providers include Built.io and MuleSoft. To see if one of your software providers is on a platform just type in the name of the IPAAS provider and the company into Google search. For example, Google “Zapier QuickBooks.” You will get a quick result whether such an integration exists.
Many association and membership management software companies have been behind the curve in adopting IPAAS technologies. If you are considering such software that is not part of an IPAAS system, you may want to look at more open platforms where the data is consider to be yours, and not theirs.