It’s time to get technical with today’s Monkey Monday vlog, where Matt and Chris are talking about automation, integration and APIs.
At Rusty Monkey we’re firm believers in making technology do all the boring hard work for you. We help our clients to simplify their lives and improve their businesses by integrating and automating systems as much as possible, thus freeing people up to focus on more important things and improve their work/life balance.
If you like the sound of that, get in touch to find out how we can help you take control of your systems.
Here’s the breakdown:
What are APIs? (00:38)
Why is this important? (01:18)
How do we do it? (01:25)
And here are some links to some of Matt’s favourite clever bits of software that you can use to improve your general wellbeing.
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Transcript Show / Hide
Chris, you’re too close mate.
Hello, and welcome to another Monkey Monday.
Chris, come back, come back.
Come back, you were too close mate.
We’ve got a zoom lens, it’s fine.
Today we’re talking about APIs. Let’s do a YMCA of API. A… Oh ok, that didn’t work.
Hi, I’m Matt!
It’s another Monkey Monday and today we’re talking about - do you want to read the title, Chris, because you won’t probably be able to do any of this bit.
Automation and integration applications slash APIs.
Yeah, sounds sexy, right? So if you’re new to all of this, let’s just explain what this is. So APIs means Application Programming Interface. In really simple terms, when people build software, they create an API for it and that lets other software talk to that bit of software. And the idea is with these integration applications, what you can do is say, ‘Hey, software A, if something happens over here, then can you make something happen over here on software B please.’ So it’s like if this happens, then that happens.
Well, I know what that is, because I get my ring doorbell to do something with lights, so I know what that is, but I’m not sure what you do in business.
Ok, in business there’s loads of reasons why you would do this. The first thing really is it just makes your life simpler. So it can get rid of loads of your day-to-day clutter and exercises, and it gives you time and space to focus on the more important things in your business that automation cannot do. And in turn this helps speed up your processes.
So let’s give some examples of how we are trying to use automation. So, for instance, we have an application that we use to send out our quotes. It’s a digital thing, so if the company is happy, they can sign the quote online, that sends me a notification and then, ordinarily, what I could do is I could then go away and talk to the finance department and say, ‘Hey, can you please send the deposit invoice,’ I could then write an email to thank the person for joining us, I need to set the deal status in our CRM to say, ‘Hey, this deal has come in,’ I then need to go to the project management system and build that project. But with some of the integration applications, we can take some of that stress and pain away from me. So we can say, ‘Hey, has this document been signed? Great, please now automate this. Go over here and complete the deal in our CRM, now go over here and create a task for me in my project management system.’ If we wanna be really clever, we may even go, ‘Hey, can you now raise an invoice for the customer, and welcome the customer into working with Rusty Monkey.’
Wow, sounds like you’re going to be a lot less busy.
You’d hope so. Now some of the problems with these API connectors is that they can’t necessarily do everything. They’re very clever, but remember what we’re doing here. We’re connecting software A to software B - what this integration application does in the middle is it will sit there and help do that. But sometimes they change the API, so sometimes this bit of software in the middle may need updating. And there are loads of integration applications - check them out online. I won’t list them all, but if you do a search you’ll find them.
So how do we do it, Chris?
I’ve no idea. But the first one says identify what needs improving.
Yeah, so imagine you’re in a business, Chris. Imagine that.
So what in the business could we do to help improve your life. So what systems do we have, or what systems do you guys have that you find you’re doing every day that is repetitive work-
Well, I remember a particular client of ours who each week or month had a series of special offers that turned up in a spreadsheet which they then had to input into their eCommerce system, but they were just looking on one screen and typing in another, and just connecting those dots…
Yeah, great example.
Review your existing platforms, as well. So what are you using? We talk to some companies and they have quite old Access databases, for instance, to achieve a certain goal. They’ve lived with them for years. But perhaps there is a new system, a cloud-based system out there that could do the same thing and do it better? And this cloud-based system may be able to work with these integration applications. So it’s definitely worth having a look at what your platforms are.
Yeah and that’s one of the things we’ve been doing. So about a year ago we were still doing our quotes with PDFs in folders and editing them and what-not, and we’ve now moved to a thing called PandaDoc, which you have an online thing which just basically does it for us in a way.
Yeah, and it’s great and it helps us build quotes faster, it gives the customer a better experience, and once we get our automation all working it will make my life hopefully freer to concentrate on cooler stuff like talking to you guys.
So embrace creative destruction. It’s important every so often to draw a line through technology. If you stick with the same technology you had 10 years ago, everyone else is gonna move faster around you and provide a better service and they’re going to have faster processes, faster systems, faster everything. So look sometimes don’t worry about scrapping that old Access database or that old project management system.
The more you understand how these applications can talk to each other, the better you can be equipped to make decisions on what applications actually would be best suited for you.
And in turn research these automation applications. Some of them will be able to connect things in ways that others can’t, basically.
And finally, just how to do it, just sign up, get connected, it’s very easy to do. Some of them are free, some of them are monthly subscriptions for however many - I don’t want to use any terminology to sell a particular product - but how many connections it can make at once. So you can sign up and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to connect my Facebook account to my email,’ or whatever it might be. You can do all sorts of very clever things with them, and it’s definitely worth looking to see how you can improve your systems and workflow.
Are you going to put a few of your favourites down there?
Why don’t we put some links down here to some of those. And maybe we’ll review them one day as well. When we have a bit of time. But they’re all pretty good. As I suggested, they don’t do everything, and there are still opportunities out there, because the APIs are pretty open, if these automated services can’t do it, that’s when you need a dev to come in and they can do some clever stuff working with these APIs.
So there we go. That was A… P… Is.
I did a lowercase I. It’s like a lightbulb.
Oh, with a dot, I see.
Thank you very much for watching.