With integration platforms becoming more prevalent, it’s easy to see the bridging of two different technologies as straightforward and standard practice. For many small businesses that utilise the standard features/requirements of multiple services, this can sometimes be the case. This is particularly true with the move to cloud services – this truly has made integration simpler.
What are integration platforms?
Integration platforms have done a great job of improving the workflows of many smaller businesses; helping them to streamline their operations, saving them time and money. These integration platforms simply take advantage of the open Application Programming Interface – or API – of the hundreds of cloud-based services on offer. They become the bridge between many disconnected services.
However, the moment you want to integrate custom data, data that is held across several of your own internal systems, or you want to figure out how you use that incoming data once it reaches your own system, integrations become much more complicated. In addition, legacy technology, or data stored in an out-of-date manner (quite often true of critical data that is relied upon for day-to-day operations), things can start to get particularly complicated!
The Rightmove Platform
What is a Bespoke or Complex Integration?
In essence, a bespoke or complex integration in software development is the process of combining multiple, disconnected systems and applications to create a more unified and efficient workflow.
When an integration is complex, it typically involves connecting multiple databases, APIs, web services – all with interdependencies - all updating at different times. A well-designed and well-planned integration allows the businesses we work with to better utilize resources and save time/money.
Instant Offices: The world’s largest procurer of office space
Instant Offices support tens of thousands of businesses per year across 150 countries. They’re the world's largest broker of office space. With a 250-strong global team and multiple business units, Instant Offices are continuously monitoring pricing trends and sourcing new offices. Information within their systems is constantly changing and updating. The most up to date datapoints are essential for them to remain market leaders.
With Rightmove being the UKs largest online real estate portal, ensuring Instant’s properties are current, and ensuring enquiries are redirected quickly is essential.
Before our integration, listings were completed with basic automation or manually. This essentially entailed the copying and pasting of information that had been uploaded into their own custom systems. The existing approach greatly limited the number of entries that could be completed daily and increased the opportunity for error. At best, only hundreds of listings could be made, and it was impossible to manage them once live. With the speed that Instant was scaling, this was not a sustainable approach!
The Timely Update of Listings on Rightmove
At Codiance, we build complex enterprise systems for some of the world’s most complex organisations. One area we particularly specialise in is complex integrations such as these.
Although at first sight this may seem a straightforward integration, the way the data was used and distributed made it very complex.
The data gathered by Instant’s systems (which itself was gathered from several other systems) couldn’t simply be pointed in the right direction. Data would be passed back and forth between several internal and external systems, each having potential knock-on effects to others.
If information was incorrectly mapped, or one datapoint was updated too late, it could result in multiple issues arising. Getting this wrong could result in more manual work, not less! Worst case scenario for productivity would be internal teams losing faith in the automated system. A great implementation first time was essential.
What we did
Firstly, we mapped Instant’s systems and Righmove’s schema. Due to its scale, this was a complicated undertaking alone.
Keeping the data in sync is key, and with the potential for a significant number of concurrent updates, a detailed understanding of whether data was an insert, update or delete for each possible request was essential. We also paid careful attention to logging, identifying all failure points and ensuring relevant information was logged at each stage.
On paper, a straightforward undertaking, however with such a complex implementation, we needed to ensure any individual failures – big or small - wouldn’t cause the integration to fall over. We also needed to ensure speedy identification of any issues in a timely manner
So, although Rightmove had an open API readily available, the non-generic specification and the knock-on effects of data held by Instant meant careful attention to all the possible scenarios was essential.
What came next
Once the scaling benefits of automation were seen, we set about identifying bottlenecks that arose due to the improvements made earlier in the chain of operations. We’ve since built several complex integrations including for Zoopla, IWG (formerly Regus) and services including Trustpilot.
We’ve even automated responses to enquiries, as well as optimising where enquiries get sent (throughout the various commercial property groups) to ensure a quicker response that’s based upon the most up to date information.
Instant Offices continue to go from strength to strength, and we’re proud of the impact we’ve had. If you’d like to discuss your enterprise system and its complex integrations, please get in touch!