Integration Types by Use Case
In past articles, we have talked about our various integration types and how they work. In this blog, we will discuss the different use cases associated with them, as well as how a couple of integration types can be used to solve other problems. The integration types we will focus on here are APIs, one-time batches and automated batch integrations.
Real-time API Integration
API integration is the way that most organizations consume our services. APIs are injected into business processes at many different levels such as data entry, data flows and routing. To be able to act on data in a reliable and deliberate way, organizations rely on accurate and up-to-date data to make informed decisions. The best way to do this is to make sure that data enters the appropriate systems with these attributes already in place. This process is critical because as we know, garbage in is garbage out.
This leads to our first use case, which is data validation at the data entry level. Having our services as a part of the point of entry layer of processes will make sure that data points entering your systems have been vetted, standardized and even enriched. These include web forms, internal desktop applications, point of sale or point of sign-up/registration, CRM data entry and the list goes on.
Integrating at the crucial points where users interact with a system gives the organization an opportunity to receive corrections in real-time, instead of trying to figure out the user’s intentions at a later time (when it’s too late). If the opportunity to take advantage of having a user present during validation is missed, depending on the volume of data, bad data could likely be either ignored, dealt with in a downstream process, or worst of all, acted upon – creating headaches in the reporting or handling of materials, or even reputation issues.
One-Time Batch & API Integration
One-time batch processes allow organizations to pull records from their systems into a comma-separated values (CSV) file and submit the file to us through secure FTP, with additional data encryption if needed. Once we receive the data, we will validate, standardize and enrich it. One-time batches are great in the right situations, and there are several good scenarios for it. The primary reasons to do one-time batches are adding new data hygiene solutions, database migration, CRM migration, third-party data list cleansing, and resource restrictions.
When adding a new data hygiene solution to a system or process, it is very important to do a one-time batch process during the initial implementation. Typically, organizations will use our APIs so that they can catch invalid data at the source, but they still have to deal with all the data that is already in the system. A good analogy to this is a recent article we wrote about rivers and lakes. In this use case, the one-time batch process complements our API services very well by catching new data and cleaning the old.
Next, we’ll discuss database migration and CRM migration together, because they both present the same opportunity for getting data validated if you haven’t done so all along. As a side note, even validated data can get stale, so it is important to keep track of the age of the data or last validation date, so that you can go back and deal with those records with additional validations if needed.
Migrating into a new database or CRM presents a great opportunity for doing a one-time batch process to make sure that your shiny new system does not replicate the clunky old system. There is no reason to propagate data validation issues that will cost you more money to try to fix down the line. This situation also lends itself to having a data validation API implemented because even if the initial data goes in clean, new data is going to be added and old data could be changed by users. Both of these situations require data validation to ensure your organization has strong actionable data.
One-time data validation also comes into play when organizations are moving data between departments, or if departments like Marketing or Sales are purchasing a lead list from third-party providers. To check the veracity of these lists, it is important to run them through validation services like ours: you don’t want to run an email marketing campaign with a bunch of stale emails that could get your mail server blacklisted, or waste time on a low-quality lead. With our services, you can make informed decisions about which email addresses to target, and you can pick the best leads for your sales team to follow up with. The validation activities in this situation can be handled by both our APIs and one-time batches.
Resource restrictions can come in a variety of forms. Organizations can be tight on people, time or both. While we can help along the way with our best practices, developer guides and sample code (and even build out new sample code per request), an API implementation still requires bandwidth, and some organizations need results right away. In this case, sending a .CSV file can be the perfect solution to meet their validation needs.
Automated Batch Integration
This kind of batch processing involves uploading a .CSV file to our secure FTP site. Automated batch integration can share some of the use cases for one-time batches such as bulk marketing campaigns, validating third-party data lists and combatting limited resources. Marketing campaigns can also happen on a recurring basis, and setting up an automated solution can help keep the workflow streamlined with up-to-date validation. Pulling data from third-party providers can also be a cyclical occurrence.
Automated batches are also relevant to organizations that only open their network during a specific time frame for security reasons. So, yes, we can help when it comes to automated batches, which can reduce many of the technical requirements for the process. Be aware, however, that there are tradeoffs either way between batch and API integrations. We are making API integrations easier and easier every day, and we hope that someday admins may be the only resource needed to get up and running.
We also want to mention that we can easily integrate with most CRM systems, and many of the use cases made throughout this discussion are certainly applicable to them, including data entry, data migration, and bulk data uploads. Whatever your data validation needs are, we have a solution for you.