A technology partner is a fellow product company that offers an integration to your product—or vice versa. Thus, “technology” partners are often referred to as “integration” partners. Think of how some accounting packages allow you to email documents for virtual signatures. That’s an example of one platform—the accounting system—integrating a software provider that offers electronic signatures. The goal is to make the accounting package more flexible and offer users more services.
The idea is to use integrations to provide as many services as possible through your platform, making you a “one-stop-shop” for your users.
“There are many software providers in the fitness industry, and many of them try to provide an inclusive, all-in-one approach,” notes Merissa Williams, client success and channel partner manager at Jonas Fitness, Inc. “While this ‘jack of all trades’ approach to software can be appealing to many club operators, it tends to be limiting in the long run. For example, does your club need rotating barcode functionality to minimize potential fraud and security risks? That all-in-one software that looked enticing may provide some sort of a ‘solution,’ but its functionality will be limited and provide no future options to partner and integrate with other leading business solutions that your club needs for long term growth. That's why it's important to look for software providers that openly offer the ability to integrate with others.”
What “Open” Means
So, how does the integration itself work? When Merissa refers to “open integration,” it’s about the underlying technology involved. It starts with an Application Programming Interface, or API. The API is the vehicle by which any application, regardless of its core technology, can communicate to another application via the target application's API. Because there are a wide range of technologies involved in integration, there must be a pathway on which they can connect. That pathway is the API. Think of it as a kind of “translator” between two applications that allows them to work together to achieve the desired outcome.