Integromat

Integromat

The incredible progress in cloud technology has brought three fundamental changes to building and scaling businesses. 

First, workflows can be almost fully automated, and will be fully automated soon.

Second, almost all information – the underpinning asset to good decision-making – can be found on the internet.

Third, 

First, workflows can be automated. This means a massive reduction in labour costs, and work that is higher quality and less prone to error than relying on human input.

I don’t mean automating the mundane, like accounting or data entry. In my experience, the vast majority of people, when they hear the words “automation”, think of technology replicating basic, repetitive tasks.

I’m referring to the automation of extremely complicated workflows.

For example, let’s take the example of Dare to Care Packages delivering PPE and essential items around the UK. 

Without diving into the tech yet, let’s first talk about how logically this is done.

  • First, there needs to be a database that collects relevant information about delivery addresses, what to deliver, time of delivery, etc.
  • Second, there needs to be a database that collects relevant information about delivery drivers, like their availability, maximum driving distance, etc.
  • Third, there needs to be a way of matching the right addresses with the right drivers, factoring into account optimal routes for each driver based on the variables above. 

For the database layer, Airtable is the best tool for the job. This is because Airtable has (1) some way of collecting information from beneficiaries and drivers, (2) a relational database system for storing information, and (3) some way of visualizing data.

There are other choices too, but they are all less efficient. For example, you can use Google Sheets to store data, but this is problematic because it can’t collect information or visualize data rigorously. To collect data, you can integrate Google Sheets with Google Forms. To visualize data, you can integrate Google Sheets with Google Data Studio. However, you are now using three products instead of one, and even though they’re all Google products with relatively smooth integration with one another, it’s still three products. 

You could also use BigQuery or Redshift to store data. These are also inefficient choices because they’re overkill for the task at hand. These are relational databases for storing millions of records, and this robustness also means more complexity, therefore reducing the ease of making changes.

Airtable

  • set up a form
  • set up fields
  • set up visualization apps

Setting up a form

 

This is very straightforward. 

Why does visualization matter? Choose which volunteers. 

Next, to plan delivery routes, the best tool for the job is Optimoroute primarily because of the robustness of its API. This means you can link it up with volunteer information from Airtable, removing the need for human route planning.

Before getting into the details of the optimal solution to this problem, it’s important to understand how to frame the problem.

Let’s abstract out one layer. It’s crucial to understand this point before I talk about the details.

The most important thing to answer this problem is to recognize (1) that all tech companies are, at their core, solving business problems, and (2) the number of tech companies is rising at an exponential rate. Most tech companies are really just digital transformation initiatives.

Click “Add a base”.

Next, create the proper fields. We had:

  • Name – single line text, for storing the full name of the person requesting PPE
  • Abbreviated name – formula, for only storing the first name of the person requesting PPE to be displayed on the website
  • Email- email, for contacting the person
  • GP/ Hospital – single line text, hospital name 
  • GP or Hospital – single select, categorizing into “GP”, “hospital”, or “other”
  • Address – single line text
  • Postcode – single line text
  • Mobile number – phone number
  • What items do you need – multiple select
  • # of each PPE item
  • Additional comments – long text
  • Total PPE quantity demanded – formula
  • Geocode – single line text
  • Submitted time – created time
Header Column #1Header Column #2Header Column #3
Column #1Column #2Column #3
Column #1Column #2Column #3
Column #1

Next, create the proper fields. We had:

  • Name – single line text, for storing the full name of the person requesting PPE
  • Abbreviated name – formula, for only storing the first name of the person requesting PPE to be displayed on the website
  • Email- email, for contacting the person
  • GP/ Hospital – single line text, hospital name 
  • GP or Hospital – single select, categorizing into “GP”, “hospital”, or “other”
  • Address – single line text
  • Postcode – single line text
  • Mobile number – phone number
  • What items do you need – multiple select
  • # of each PPE item
  • Additional comments – long text
  • Total PPE quantity demanded – formula
  • Geocode – single line text
  • Submitted time – created time