Very few businesses have a single, all-singing operational system. Instead, they have a few or multiple core business-critical systems, such as CRM, finance, ERP. In particular, businesses that have grown via acquisition tend to end up with lots of disparate systems and face the daunting task of either selecting a single solution for all divisions to use or embarking on joining the various systems together. But what are the ways to connect these systems together?
In a world where digital transformation brings a multitude of benefits, such as speeding up communication, tasks and workflows throughout the business, this blog series aims to clarify the terminology used when discussing the different ways of joining systems together:
- Apps and Data Connectors
- Data Warehouses
In this blog, we’ll cover Apps and Data Connectors.
Apps and Data Connectors
When most people think of an app, they usually think of it in terms of a mobile app. An app is simply:
“a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone, tablet, or watch” according to Wikipedia.
But it is also a software program that you use online.
Apps are usually designed with a single purpose in mind. For example, the apps on my phone cover a multitude of different functions, such as; online banking, online shopping (supermarket or otherwise), mindfulness, NHS track & trace, social media, as well as my work apps, such as my Maximizer CRM Mobile app. Apps do what they are meant to do, nothing more, nothing less. You can’t change what it does, although you can generally configure them to personalise how it works best for you.
Apps are not to be confused with a business application, which is software designed to perform a variety of functions, such as a CRM solution (Maximizer CRM, Sage CRM etc.) or an accounts package (Sage 50, Sage 200, QuickBooks). Interestingly, many business applications do offer mobile “apps”, which are slimmed down versions of the full product, for its users to connect to the business application on a mobile device.
A data connector is a type of integration that joins business applications together, primarily sharing data between business applications. A data connector is an automated process that moves data from one database to another. They are generally “one way” – in other words, you can view the information from one business application within another business application. An example of a data connector is our Financials data connectors suite, where your accounting information, such as orders, invoices and transactions, is made visible within your CRM solution.
Most data connectors work by using development tools already made available by the software vendors. So, as an example, to automatically extract data from your Maximizer CRM system, there is a library of Maximizer Web Services available. This enables data connectors to securely connect to the Maximizer system to extract or insert data in a structured and controlled way. These can also be referred to as “end points” or APIs (Application Programming Interface).
A data connector is therefore a piece of software that securely manages data flow between multiple systems.
The data connectors we build take into account the technical challenges when considering the different ways business applications are deployed. Some applications might be installed locally on a customer’s server, whilst others may be installed within a Private Cloud or even within a software vendor’s Public Cloud. This means the data connector needs to be able to manage data flows between systems across multiple locations. To achieve this, data security and protection are fundamental factors in the design of our data connectors.
Examples of Avrion Data Connectors
Website Leads into CRM
This data connector integrates online web forms, such as enquiries, requests for information, customer service and support and so on. Upon the website visitor submitting a form on the website, the data connector collects all information completed by the visitor and passes it into the CRM system. Validation is completed, checking if the visitor details already exist in the CRM system to ensure a duplicate record is not created. The connector then processes the web-form data, which might mean creating a lead in CRM, an opportunity or a customer service case. During this process, other information might be populated in CRM – for example, updating a field with the source of enquiry, enquiry date and type of enquiry (in essence, fully completing the data entry process associated with CRM). Other processes can then be performed, such as allocating the lead/opportunity/customer service case to the right person and perhaps notifying a team of the enquiry by way of an email.
This integrates your accounts system with Maximizer CRM to enrich your customer data by including information about financial transactions in one system. This connector extracts customer financial information from an accounts system and transforms this data in a specific way to be suitable for consumption within your Maximizer CRM system. The data connector includes functionality built into CRM for displaying order, invoice and ledger information linked to a CRM customer record. In addition, standard Maximizer tools and features can be used for manipulating this financial data – for example, advanced search and dashboards. Our Financials data connector is currently available for Sage 50, Sage 200 and Intuit QuickBooks.
Avrion Custom Data Connector
Our data connector platform has been built in a way that supports many other systems. Using our technology, we are able to connect a wide range of systems together, in a secure and robust way, with minimal development effort required to achieve this. Many of our customer implementations use this technology. Examples of our connectors include Mailchimp, dotdigital, Creditsafe, Instiller, Dynamics GP, WooCommerce, Magento and countless more.
Partner Data Connectors
We also work with other technology partners and use their proven data connectors. For example, Sage CRM customers can benefit from Qmulus’ Qnect (currently available for Sage 50, Sage 200 and Sage X3), which is a two-way data connector that joins Sage CRM to either Sage 50, Sage 200 and Sage X3.
Connecting your systems together
If you’d like help with connecting your systems together so that you can benefit from greater efficiencies and better communication throughout your business, contact us today.