How Bi-directional Data Integrations Work

Written by Lindsay McGuire on January 9, 2020

Posted in IT + Security

Data drives business. To be successful, you must to keep data organized, accurate, and updated. Yet in the digital age, this can be incredibly difficult. Companies of 200 to 500 employees use an average of 123 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. That’s a lot of data to keep track of.

How can you ensure your data is getting stored in the right apps and in the correct format in a timely manner? The key in today’s software-heavy workplaces are data integrations. Read on to learn more about data integrations, why they sometimes fall short, and how bi-directional data integrations work.

What is a data integration?

A data integration is the process and tools utilized to get data from one software application into another. The goal of utilizing data integrations is to create a more holistic and centralized view of data. Instead of having your data spread out across a variety of tools and apps, data integrations can assist in combining that data to ensure your tools have accurate and up-to-date information.

You probably run data integrations every day without realizing it. These tools are a very important factor in choosing what software is right for your business. Most software comes with native integrations, which are pre-built integrations that are easily set up out-of-the-box. You (or more likely your dev and engineering teams) can also code your own integrations using an open API.

Choosing a data sync tool over building your own integration will save your organization time and money. It can take months for an IT team to build a data integration. Instead, look for a tool that offers standardized connectors that create a data sync between systems like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite, ConnectWise, SugarCRM, Zoho, Pipedrive, and Salesforce.

long form tipsDid you know? Formstack has 50+ integrations available to help you get data where you need it, quickly and easily.

How does a data integration work?

Integrations start with application programming interfaces (APIs), which basically every system includes as part of their feature set. APIs provide access to a system’s data “programming interface,” which just means that a developer can write code that uses an API to get access to the data in a particular system. APIs are used all over the web today and let the apps you use every day speak to one another.

These APIs enable a lot of flexibility in terms of what you can do with a particular product. Any integration that you’re considering for a particular product will use the APIs of that system, which means that you should probably ask about the APIs available in a system before purchasing it. Your ability to integrate any new software or system with your current tech stack is incredibly important to maintaining data integrity.

long form tipsPro Tip: When evaluating software, the most important thing to keep in mind is your company’s particular needs. Here’s a list of 7 things to consider before buying software.

What are the downfalls of data integrations?

The purpose of integrating two or more business systems together is to sync the data within these disparate systems to each other. This is done typically by pulling data out of one system and then pushing it to the other via it’s API. Although very helpful, this type of one-way data integration can have downfalls.

The first issue is that data is generally only synced based on a specific action or trigger. This means data is not updated on a consistent basis, allowing for data gaps and disparities to develop between data syncs. If an update is not part of a sync trigger, it won’t get updated in the other software, creating inaccurate data in at least one of your systems.

A second problem is that many integration products are very limited in the data they are able to sync. In fact, many products only allow you to sync Leads/Contacts. This deters your ability to create a complete and accurate data file, considering you probably collect a lot more data than simply Leads/Contacts. Here’s a snapshot of what data three of the leading data integration software options can sync:

data synchronization tools compared

Another common downfall of one-way data integrations is that you can’t control when data overrides other data. If using a variety of applications or a complicated process, this can cause problems. There may be certain times or instances when the data pushing from one system to another shouldn’t overwrite what is in the other system.

Many of these issues can be minimized or even eliminated if you choose to use a data integration tool that offers bi-directional data syncs.

Learn More: What Is a Bi-directional Data Sync?

How does a bi-directional data integration work?

Bi-directional integrations enable the data to flow in all directions, creating and updating data in any system that you have integrated together. This enables you to fully keep data in sync, in both directions, all the time. In a bi-directional, data-driven integration, data is synced any time it is changed, not just when a particular event occurs.

Webinar: Tame Data Chaos with a Seamless Sales & Marketing Data Sync

If you’re tired of inconsistent data, it’s time to invest in a tool that offers bi-directional data sync capabilities. This will allow each of your teams to use the right systems for their needs while ensuring smooth processes and consistent data across departments. When you unite disparate systems, you can avoid inaccurate data and empower your teams to make better decisions.

Give your team a holistic, accurate view of customer data with Formstack Sync. Our bi-directional data sync tool will give your teams the data visibility they need to get their jobs done right. Learn more about this revolutionary data tool now!