As the event technology ecosystem continues to expand, it also continues to increase in complexity. Event planners have come to realize that they shouldn’t seek after a holy grail of event planning tools – a universal software that does everything, nor should event technology providers attempt to build such a product. Because we all know, such an offering would be far too expensive, complicated, and most likely – clunky.
And luckily, such a product isn’t needed because we have a diversity of offerings in the event technology marketplace. Event planners can find the right tools to fit their needs and companies can specialize in what they do best while keeping costs reasonable. However, planners have found over time that as their event technology stacks grow, so too does the amount of time that they spend transferring data and maintaining their workflow between tools. As a result, event planners have begun to ask for products that better communicate with one another in order to save time and increase productivity.
Unfortunately, as Eric Kingstad discovered last year, “Integration is not a priority for the platform providers and often takes cooperation among providers for integration to work. While the sales teams find that lack of integration slows down the sales cycle, development teams would rather work on improving their products.”
But that doesn’t mean event planners shouldn’t still push for integration – after all, there’s a huge potential savings in time and money if your preferred products can work in harmony with one another.
What Does it Take to Integrate?
In order to approach your event technology providers about integration, it helps to have a little bit of background knowledge.
At it’s most basic level, there are two main components to technology integration: an API (Application Program Interface), which tells systems how they should interact and a web service which handles the transmission of data between the systems. Now, there are also two types of APIs: open (meaning outside developers can look at the underlying code for free) and closed (meaning it can’t be accessed by outside developers without permission).
In either case, there are an increasing number of event tech providers who have pre-existing partnerships with a select handful of common vendors. For example, many event management platforms come with pre-existing integrations with CRMs like Salesforce or with marketing automation tools like Marketo.
You Have Options
However, there are still plenty of instances where such relationships don’t exist between your favorite tools. In which case, you do have a few options, either (a) talk to the two vendors and see if they can develop some kind of integration, (b) have a third party handle the discussion and development with your vendors, or (c) if the vendors have open APIs, use a third party tool.
If you choose to pursue option a, you’ll want to be sure that you know the right questions to ask. Hubb happens to have a great Cheatsheet for Event Technology Integration to help you out or if you’d like to get even more in-depth, be sure to check out CadmiumCD’s Comprehensive Guide to Event Tech Integrations.
If you decide to go the third party route, you have options there as well.
For simple solutions (and when you’re dealing with technologies that allow for them), you can use automation tools like IFTTT and Zapier to connect a variety of services in order to save time and speed up your team’s workflow. One example of an event planning tool that provides added flexibility through the use of Zapier is Eventbrite. With Zapier, you can connect Eventbrite to Salesforce, Mailchimp, LinkedIn, Google Apps, and much. more.
When things get a little more complicated, it’s time to find something a little more heavy duty. Enter Built.io. Built.io (as described by Eric Kingstad) “is a neutral third party “middleware” where key data is exchanged and automatic workflows are created by accessing the API’s of almost any platform through triggers, actions, and webhooks.” They can help you put together a solution to integrate your preferred event technology software or services.
And finally, if you still need help, there’s always the option of hiring an event technology consulting firm. One such firm is The Event Guys (who, incidentally, have a partnership with Built.io). They specifically provide technology integration services to event professionals, so you can rest assured that they have some idea of what your goals are when it comes to your event’s data. Or you might contact the trade show technology experts over at Fantail Consulting and Technologies – they also know a thing or two about event technology integration.
Don’t Hesitate to Integrate
As more and more planners seek integrations between popular event planning solutions, providers are likely to respond with partnerships and built-in integrations in an effort to make their product that much more desirable to their customers. But in the mean time, don’t let a lack of pre-existing integrations keep you from optimizing your workflow and keeping your team moving from forward.
There may be a vast array of event technology solutions for you to choose from, but there’s no reason to jump from one to another seeking some universal tool, when you can instead choose the best-in-class and integrate them with one another.
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