Guest post by Amalie Kaysen
All companies, regardless of size and sector, have been doing a lot of soul searching recently. Many of the old ways of working which have shaped our business landscape over the decades have now been rendered redundant in just the past two years alone.
Fuelled by Covid and an increase in hybrid and remote work for more businesses that previously couldn’t offer such a thing, we are seeing a greater trend towards hyper-connectedness.
As teams work across geographies, time zones and scopes, tech is more important than ever in keeping companies aligned and on track, in terms of efficiency, delivery and everything in between.
Further to this, individuals themselves are finding they have greater power and choice of tools they can use for their work; tools that can empower them to be more productive and more engaged.
While some might think of these tools as a mundane and everyday part of working life, businesses should actually see tools as an opportunity to empower staff, and create an enjoyable experience for employees using them.
Conversely, if they are enforced, it can drive down efficiency and actually cause resentment towards the very tools that are supposed to help people do their job better. The individual choice in tools is important for employee happiness, but it requires seamless integration to be successful.
So what does this mean for SMEs and what they need to know about tech integrations and partnerships?
Building ‘sticky’ products
Great technical integration between tools is key to building a ‘sticky’ product; that is, a product that businesses and its employees enjoy using and that becomes integral to their everyday work. Users don’t want to feel ‘locked in’ to a system – they want it to be intuitive, and ideally a pleasure to use.
It’s really important that companies remain open-minded, collaborative and agile
The ideal that companies should be aiming for is a state where everything flows together seamlessly. As users, we don’t care if it’s one system or many – we just want things to feel smooth. We’ve all experienced the infuriating feeling that a poor, clunky interface can cause: when different programmes aren’t talking to each other properly, or you have to duplicate data input.
The solution is simple: companies need to be great at API’s (application programming interfaces) and partnerships, so that their tech tools can be integrated successfully and achieve that sought after ‘stickiness’. But stickiness is more than just about having a tool that employees enjoy using; it’s also a great revenue driver because productivity and output can be increased with the right tools.
APIs: key for successful integration
It’s really important that companies remain open-minded, collaborative and agile. Often incumbents struggle to catch up with newer software, made by developers who have thought about APIs from the beginning or are API-first.
A good example here is Stripe. They designed their API for engineers, with a deep understanding of their use cases, and based it all on universal technology with a rich ecosystem for support.
Open APIs that allow anyone to build to your system is the gold standard
Mature API organisations focus on building out a partner ecosystem, because they know it unlocks access to customers faster. As a company you should spend time finding out exactly what your value proposition is to a partner’s product.
We need to stop thinking about each other as competitors and instead think about how to complement each other: good integrations and partnerships benefit everyone. As a provider it gives you a go-to-market opportunity, which can generate revenue.
If you and a partner can build even tighter integrations, you can think up new areas where applications can support each other – which in the end serves the end user better. It also raises the stakes, pushing companies to be better.
Open APIs that allow anyone to build to your system is the gold standard, and being ready to look at adding integrations that users are actively asking for will also result in happy customers.
Ensuring your tech tools have good integration capabilities doesn’t just make for happier, more productive teams – it actually creates revenue streams and unlocks new markets. Strategically thinking about which integrations to build will enable companies to move into specific geographies, sectors and verticals.
In this new world of hyperconnectivity, businesses should be striving to connect tools as well as teams across time zones and physical locations if they want to be in it for the long run.
Amalie Kaysen is VP Strategic Innovation, Forecast