It’s easy to forget the human cost of poor integration, when focusing solely on the technological challenges of making different systems talk to one another. At Cluster Reply, It has become clear to us, having worked in Aviation, Property Services and Higher Education for the past 20 years, that these industries rely heavily on safety and the sanctity of human life being upheld at all times. This is incontrovertibly true of aviation, where people need to be put on and off planes, and flown in and out of airports in large metal tubes every few minutes in our busiest airports, but it is also true of Higher Education and Property Services. And integration is the glue that keeps these industries moving freely and safely.
Our chief architect, and one of QuickConnect’s key solution designers, Andy James, has some good stories to tell that underline the critical importance of good integration in upholding society’s basic tenets of freedom and safety within these industries. He recalls the Property Services company that was struggling to differentiate between genuine emergency calls made by tenants, versus those initiated by manipulative tenants at war with their neighbours. For example, the tenant with a grudge who calls up pretending to be the tenant next door, complaining that his gas and electricity are not working, or that the bathroom ceiling is leaking. With no means of verifying the identity of the tenant, the Property Services company would have no choice but to send a handyperson out to the address, to be greeted by a bemused tenant with no such problems at all. This was solved through an integration solution; the Property Services company was able to run through identity checks before sending out a handyperson, saving them thousands in wasted journeys, but critically, also bringing them closer to the tenants who had real problems to solve.
Andy has similar tales to tell regarding Higher Education. Today’s students often rely on single systems that allow them to do everything from purchasing food in the canteen to getting to their lectures on time. Often the same card that provides access to the Student Union, also unlocks the doors to their accommodation. For young students, often away from home for the first time, it is critical that these systems all work; it could be disastrous if the student finds herself locked out of her student digs late at night in a potentially hostile city centre.
These are just two stories which highlight how the true cost (and benefits) of integration have been put to the test. Because Andy and his team start by empathising with the human stories and subsequent patterns of behaviour that a University, Airport or Property Services company needs to support, only then can the right integration solution be designed. One that is first and foremost concerned with keeping people safe from harm, and able to go about their business without distressing incidents getting in the way.