When we used to use traditional software, getting data into and out of the individual software packages was not an easy task. Of course tightly integrated suites like Microsoft Office were made to more or less work together, but if you wanted to take a spreadsheet done in Paradox (a very old database) and use it in Microsoft Word, that is a challenge. Maybe you had a calendar program and wanted to share it with a colleague – you really couldn’t do it easily – except printing it out and giving it to them.
Today, so many of us are moving away from traditional software and using cloud based software services to work. Instead of clicking the “start button” (on Windows computers) and “programs”, we’re now just keeping our browser open and through the browser accessing email, file sharing, collaboration, chat, social media and dozens of other productivity solutions.
However, the challenge of data connectivity still remains, but there is a solution.
The challenge is that we are using even more online services than we ever used traditional software and often times we want to share information between one or more online services.
Between core applications like our accounting programs, email marketing and sales force tools and productivity tools like file sharing, telecommunication and social media, we might be in and out of 10 different tools a day, some free and some monthly or fee based.
I use Google Apps ($50 per year per person) for my email, calendar and other collaboration and communication needs. I use BatchBlue ($10 a month for the plan I’m on) to collaboratively manage tasks and to-dos with my team.
What I wanted to do is view BatchBlue to-dos within Google. Through an RSS feed, provided by BatchBlue, I’m able to have my tasks and to-dos display in a calendar in Google Apps – that’s powerful integration.
Here’s another example of the power of integration. I use BatchBlue to store. From time to time I want to send a message to these contacts through an email newsletter. Normally one would export the list and then export it to the email newsletter. This is “ok” but there is a better way. Through an integration with email service Mailchimp, BatchBlue allows their customers to seamlessly send a contact list to Mailchimp with no export and import. One click and you’re done.
Let’s look at one more example. Maybe you are using Outright.com to manage your cash flow and you are using Freshbooks to generate and receipts. Instead of going to both websites and double entering information, you can bring Freshbook data directly into Outright.
These are just a few of hundreds of examples where data sharing enables you to use a variety of online services and ensure the data between them can flow, as you want it to.
Every time you cut and paste, every time you input and export, every time you click from one online service to another, THINK. Is there a way for me to share data in one service with another service?
By “mashing” your data (or sharing it) you can save time, be more productive and get more done in less time. What mashups do you like?