Are you integrated?


Are you integrated?

Are you integrated?

This is a question we increasingly hear as businesses strive towards digital transformation. ‘Integration’ has become a buzzword that people often use, even if they have a limited understanding of what it means. We have many enlightened suppliers in our sector who recognise that they can provide greater overall value for clients by working together than by working separately, and most of us recognise each other as data partners.

But hospitality is a people-focussed business, and this can lead some to start with the wrong question. Knowing that one supplier’s platform is integrated with another may be useful to a point, but a more important starting point is to understand the business purpose – what is it that you, as a customer, would like to achieve as a result of us working together? Often the answer to this question, at a high level, will be one of the following: (a) having a single source of truth for each piece of data (rather than the same information in slightly different forms), (b) seamless transition for the user between one platform and another (often referred to as ‘single sign on’), or (c) interactions between the two platforms, where an action in one causes an effect in another (the platforms effectively talk to each other).

Understanding the business requirement is really helpful for us as suppliers, as it helps us to work out the best way to deliver that need. This is because integrations take many different forms, and some will be easier or more appropriate to your needs than others. It’s also really helpful to understand “why” – in other words, what difference will it make to your business? We all want to see our software making a tangible impact on our customers’ ability to compete and innovate, and the stories that lie behind this can bring to life what could otherwise feel like a techy conversation.

So what is an integration? Usually, this involves sharing either security details (for login) or data. For example, data collected or entered in one system can be made visible in another – such as key guest experience results being displayed in your company’s BI system. Or you may want to pre-populate guest surveys with what you already know about them or their choices. Many integrations use ‘APIs’, secure channels which basically receive requests and send responses. One important thing to note is that suppliers do not have lots of bespoke APIs for each client, as this would be very inefficient to manage – instead, we aim to make them as configurable as possible so that many clients can benefit.

When a customer approaches us with a requirement, such as collecting guest survey results for their CRM, we would (subject to GDPR considerations) provide details to the other party for how to access the API and what data would be relevant. In the CRM example, this might be capturing a ‘recommend score’ and comments for a recognised guest ID or email address. Requests we have received recently include the integration of data on deliveries, complaints, receipts and actions. Not everything is possible, but it’s always worth asking the question as it may spark other creative ideas.

It's also worth bearing in mind that an integration may not be required for what you want to achieve. For example, depending on what you want to achieve, images and predictive text that help you select what dish you ordered on a guest survey might actually give you more flexibility than a detailed integration with your POS system.

So next time you feel yourself wanting to ask a supplier if they are ‘integrated’ with another, see if you can paint a fuller (non-technical) picture of how it would be helpful for you. This will help us create the best solution, and may even blaze a trail for something that no-one else has yet tried.

To discover more about how we can help you to measure, monitor and manage your guest experience, get in touch with our new business team today on 01225 470999 or email enquiries@hgem.com.

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