Integration as a Service - the Logical Path Forward
There's a reason that we're hearing so much about integration these days, and that it's one of the HOT topics in the events industry. Companies are investing in event technology with an expectation that productivity will increase - a very logical expectation. But because systems are NOT integrated, organizers are having to resort to manual data management, wasting precious time and not optimizing the investments in technology.
The traditional method of point-to-point integration with a reliance on tech vendors to manage integration is archaic, expensive and messy, and it creates an unnecessary barrier. A new way of integrating data has emerged and it is clearly the path forward for the events industry. It's called "Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) and it uses a hub and spoke distribution model to replace the point-to-point methods used in the past.
There's a ton of reasons that iPaas is the ultimate and inevitable way forward for the events industry for integrating event technology stacks - efficiency, cost, flexibility, quality, control and scalability.
Efficiency - The Hub/Spoke distribution model that is used in iPaaS brings an added efficiency that not only affects cost but also affects the amount of time spent preparing and managing the integrations. Let's say, for example that you had a tech stack of 8 platforms that you wanted to integrate. A Hub/Spoke model requires only 8 paths (spokes) working through the Platform (Hub). The mapping of data exchange and workflow takes place in the Hub. Connecting those same 8 platforms in a Point-to-Point system would require 28 separate integrations. Wow! 28!
Cost - Devoting teams of expensive developers from each platform to build and then manage Point-to-Point integrations is expensive. And if you think you as a planner are not paying for that work - think again. While the technology company may not charge you for integration as a line item on your invoice, they've built it into the price. In an iPaaS model, you pay for the data exchange that happens within the integration platform - usually in the form of a subscription - and optionally for the initial design work of the integration. But because there's less manpower, and less paths to build, the cost will be much less with savings up to 80% - 90%.
Flexibility - having access to hundreds of platforms in a iPaaS model that is built to "Plug and Play" any platform gives you the flexibility to switch providers that aren't meeting your expectations at any time. With point-to-point integrations, you're basically stuck with platforms that you've invested in even if they're not up to par with your needs, I heard a recent story where an organizer pain-stakingly attempted to synchronize start and end dates of long term contracts with technology providers so that she could make wholesale changes if things weren't working. Ouch!
Best of Breed - working with a flexible iPaaS model gives you the ability to choose the best vendors - companies like Swoogo and Hubb.me and MAP Digital - with innovative technology that specialize in whatever function that you as an organizer need to better plan your meetings, and to bundle those platforms into tech stacks for complete end-to-end solutions. You no longer have to rely on antiquated, hard to use, and mediocre legacy systems.
Centralized control - traditional point to point integrations are brittle and fragile. One change in an API, and the whole system can fall apart. When many are involved, it's natural that no one wants to take responsibility. So who's keeping an eye on things? And using our example above, with 8 platforms and 28 paths, that a lot to manage and a lot that can go wrong. With an iPaaS model, you - the organizer and the owner of the data - have one central place where integration is mapped and managed, giving you the ultimate control over your own data.
Scalability - with an iPaaS model, you and your organization also have access to connect with hundreds of other applications used to manage your business. From CRMs like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, and Email platforms like the Google Suite, to Survey tools like SurveyMonkey, project management tools like Trello, and social platforms like Facebook, and LinkedIn.
The time is right to get serious about integration of your event technology. There's much to gain - time, money, important data - and planners should be demanding that their technology partners join iPaaS Collections (like the Collective found at the EventTechGuide powered by Built.io) to make integration accessible and affordable for their clients.
The Event Guys are meeting and event technology consultants. We've partnered with Built.io to bring their enterprise level iPaaS to the Events Industry.