Congratulations! You've jumped on the bandwagon and decided to use one or more technology apps for your upcoming event! Maybe you're trying out a session content management system to replace your HUGE spreadsheet, or you're saving paper by putting the event handbook in digital format for the first time.
A group of trees in Oregon is silently cheering for you.
But what else do you need to know? You thought this was all plug-and-play, but you're quickly finding out that having more than a single piece of event tech requires some complicated integration. This isn't what you signed up for. This was supposed to be easy!
So what do you do now?
Don't worry. It can still be easy. There's just a little bit of work to do before it's all ready to go. Let's take a look at the basics here and get you started on the road to event tech freedom!
What is technology integration?
The first thing you need to know is that integration of your event apps is totally possible. The platforms were made by different companies using different technologies, but they CAN talk to each other. They just need some coaxing to come out of their shells.
Technology integration is what happens when two or more different applications are able to transfer data using a special interface over the Internet.
Some applications already integrate everything you need. But if you're not using one of those, then you'll need to make sure your apps can talk to each other.
Your content management platform probably wasn't made specifically to integrate into your website or to pass information to your attendee mobile app. But they can all work together with little tools called APIs and web services.
How does it all work?
The data that one app is trying to pass to the other needs a translator. There must be a filter in order to convert the information into a format that can be understood by the receiving application. This is done through something called an Application Program Interface, or API. An API allows one service to get specific information from a different service. That's really all there is to it.
But wait! There's more!
In order for the API to get data from one app to the other, it needs a bridge – a pathway, if you will – to carry the info. After all, your attendees aren't going to plug their phones into your mainframe each time they want to view the event schedule, right?
That bridge is called a web service. It's how information gets from one system to another over the Internet.
Web services and APIs are necessary for efficient data transfer, but there are some caveats. When you start adding more technology solutions that need to be integrated with each other, there's a higher likelihood that they all will lose some functionality. So even if you pick the Cadillac version of multiple event apps, the act of integrating them all together could cause you to lose some features.
That's a big reason that self-managed, integrated event tech platforms are so helpful; all the modules are made to work with each other, so you don't have to sacrifice features or functionality.
Also, swapping information between applications requires both storage and bandwidth. These carry a cost, and you could potentially get charged extra if you exceed the established limits, so be careful.
So what now?
To get the integration process started, you'll need to set up a meeting with the technical support leads of each technology solution you're using. The goal is to get them talking to each other to come up with an integration solution that matches your expectations.
We'll dive deeper into that topic in a future blog post, but the takeaway here is that YOU need to understand how this all works so you get a technology package that fits your unique event needs.
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