The easiest way to explain to inquisitive people what an integration support specialist does, will be using one word - translator. Most companies are moving their software services to SaaS platforms. As an Integration support specialist you are the main contact between your company's servers and you customers clients. You need to learn, develop and maintain a common language that will help the different systems comminicate and share information. Integration support is acomplex ongoing process and as the systems evolve the processes of integration gets more sphisticated and more resouces are allocated to meet deadlines. There is always a common goal, communication between two services, a client and a host.
It is simple in theory, but can be quite challenging in reality.
Being an integration support specialist/implementation analyst, is a career to invest in with a bright future. It is a dream job with many perks, mainly job satisfaction.
How to become an integration support specialist.
Although I have only recently been classified as being an integration support specialist, I have been doing it for many years, without knowing it. Like any good recipe there are a few key ingredients necessary to becoming an ISS.
Solid communication skills, both verbal and written.
The ability to translate a complex language into easy to understand sentences.
Logical thinker. This is a top level priority. You spend an enormous amount of time sifting through and analysing data. Defining, isolating and resolving a problem is what is all boils down to, the we go back to list item 1, communicating the resolution with the client or internally. I have created a model that I use on a daily basis to do exactly this.]
Good to have technical skills, generally speaking this boils down to job description level.
Solid SQL experience and knowledge of databse structures. You spend a bulk of your time digging up databases to find information to analyse.
Hands on experience with spreadsheets like Excel or Google Sheets gives you a strong advantage over your competitors to landing the dream integration specialist job. You need to analyse, compare. filter,and find the data you dig up from the database sources. Using lookup functions, performing data validation tests and using pivot tables is a big plus.
Experience with a charting library like Highcharts or Google Chars. Complex data needs to be visualized and shared to be understood and you need to have the ability to use scripting languages to setup the charts and share it with clients to understand what the data means.
Configure API endpoint requests, server-to-server, client-to-server through GET and POST methods becomes everyday routinse. All these single sign on requests you see and payment gateways, use API methods to commuinicate and send back responses, bringing me to the next step.
Understamnd and working with data format like CSV, JSON and XML.All API requests echo a resonse back in a data format to tell the client what is cooking on the server;s side. You need the ability to read the response like a stoy book and either download the payloads, or use a scripting language to loop thorugh the objects and perform specialized functions. Although you may also need to inspect the response for troublshooting purposes.
The ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines. It is honestly not uncommon to support many clients simultanously, and all the clients have deadlines and often these deadlines fall on the same due dates. You need to be meticulously orgazied and prioritize your work to an extent where your family and friends call you names and a pain in the butt. Another perk.
Team player. Although I am the only Integrations Support Specialist in our company, I report to many teams, including Technical Services, Compliance, BI, QA and even the technical writers. You need feedback and insights from all these teams and learn to wrok with them to meet the results demanded from your clients.
Have fun and learn to take a break when you get one!
All work and no play...
Time to play a game, if you are game? You read the requirements and know what it takes to be an Integartions Support Specialist. Follow the instructios below to feelwhat it is like and get some experience.
Follow this link to navigatge to my play shop. I hope you are hungry. Note that nowhere during the journey will you be requested to fill in any personal or credit card details. All fields haver been populated for you, using dummy data.
Open your browser developer tools, then click on the Network tab at the top of the browser developer tools and reload the page. Notice how the network requests are loaded.
Add a few items to the cart and inspect the requests under the network tab. Click on the cart to proceed to the virtual checkout. Use this email: email@example.com with this passwrod: @integrations as the credentials to proceed. You can also use this Discount Code: QUICKFOOD.
On the order confirmation page is where everything is happening and this is where clients most often have issues with third party integrations, including payment gateways. The challenge is that you do not have access to this page directly. You need to purchase items to get to this page and more often that not, no one will ever share their credit card details with you voluntarily. This is where you come in. Timne to do some digging. Use the Network tab and Sources tab to find out if you can determine:
All of this data, including the conversion events are sent to third paty analytics and tracking platforms. The goal is to have an in depth understand of the entire consumer journey, from call to action. One of the clients I work with haave more than 10 million transactions a month, excluding cliks. Can you imagine what resources go into validating the events and analyzing the conversion and consumer journey data?
From looking at the tags in the network requests under the Network tab, can you see to what destinations the data is sent to? TIP: Google Analytics,Segment and many more.
Can you find the data layer implemented on the site? Try and see which of the data layer objects are populated from cookies or local storage.