For you tech types – here’s a couple examples of technical interaction in place of integration. A user wanted to pull files from Basecamp, the 37Signals application, into their LeadsOnRails application as read-only background information for a salesperson talking with a client.
37Signals provides an Application Programming Interface (API) for just such interfaces. Yet retrieval of files are not supported by the API. All is not lost though because we simply put a link into their LeadsOnRails screen which, when clicked, searches for and displays the user’s files using good old http urls – the same urls that the Basecamp search button creates. (The user needs to manually log into Basecamp once).
This is a very simple example yet one can easily imagine more complex technical examples such as gMail interactions where the url is not readily apparent and one page can often have dozens of requests. Google supports some integration efforts with APIs. But just because there is not an API does not mean you cannot interact with it, especially when talking web applications.
Side note: We see these type of interactions between people all of the time. Especially in the corporate world of org. charts and hierarchys. There is a formal way and “other” ways to accomplish goals, share information, and make decisions. And with people, it is often the informal way that gets results.
Don’t let the lack of a formal system, agrement or contract keep you from making improvements (both technical and personal) to your interactions and relationships.