Twilio Programmable SMS App Inspiration

Twilio Programmable SMS App Inspiration

You may have heard that SendGrid joined forces with Twilio. In order to have a better understanding of Twilio’s products, many on the SendGrid team participated in Twilio Bootcamp to learn about Programmable SMS and create our very own Twilio-based app.

Our apps ranged from comical enjoyment to the impossibly cute with ideas that send you DJ Khaled quotes or corgi gifs.

While an argument can be made for the usefulness of these types of apps, I also want to highlight a few apps that remedy or automate everyday personal and professional challenges.

From solving the inconvenience of looking up transportation timetables to enhancing communications between departments, we’ve found quite a few ways to put Twilio Programmable SMS to good use.

When to raise the alarm

When Emily Ruppe started on SendGrid’s weekend Support Team, she struggled with knowing when to raise the alarm to alert on-call team members about an issue. Emily didn't want to be the support person who cried wolf, but also didn't want to be a bottleneck in reporting severe customer-impacting issues to those who could fix them.

By using Programmable SMS, Emily was able to develop an app that asks 7 sequential questions to help the Support Team determine whether SendGrid’s service is in need of on-call engineer assistance.
"I built something that works, and I'm so proud of it!"
It was challenging to create sequential responses regardless of the answer the person was texting in. With a little assistance from SendGrid founder and engineer, Jose Lopez, Emily built an app that she’s not only proud of, but also something that her team has already put to use.

Transportation countdown

Have you ever been running late to catch a bus or train and wondered how much time you have left, or if the transportation is running behind schedule? Spending your few precious minutes navigating the outdated transportation’s website is frustrating, if not a complete waste of time.
“There are so many free APIs out there that you can play with!”
To solve this inconvenience, Twilio SendGrid’s Principal Product Manager, Nikhil Sharma, created an app that provides the minutes until your BART train departs.

(Bay Area Rapid Transport is one of the main methods of public transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area.)

Through Programmable SMS and the BART API, Nikhil can text in the BART station and BART line to receive the number of minutes until the next train arrives. Now he can quickly know whether or not he will catch his train and arrive at the office on time.

Improving communications between departments

We’ve all crossed wires when it comes to communicating between departments. Matt Cullen Meyer, our FP&A Systems Manager, noticed just that between our Finance and Recruiting Coordinator Team, so he created an app to prevent these miscommunications.
“Setting up SMS through Twilio was probably the easiest part.”
Matt’s app sends an SMS and an email to himself as well as the recruiting coordinator each time a new position is added to the financial planning software, Anaplan. This alerts the recruiting coordinator to go into Anaplan to populate recruiting information. Using Programmable SMS, SendGrid, and the Anaplan API, Matt streamlined communication between departments.

Answering dinner indecision

A dreaded question we’ve all heard is, “Where do you want to eat?” With so many options to choose from, how do you decide?! SendGrid Account Executive, Christine Murray, struggles with dinner indecision and wanted to build an app that would narrow down her options.
“It seems you can build an app for just about anything!”
Christine easily found a third party Yelp API to use as the base of her app, but found that implementing the code was a little trickier, involving a fair amount of troubleshooting and trial and error. Once the code deployed properly, it was much easier to iterate and add criteria like price point and Yelp rating.

Ultimately, Christine developed an app that provides you 3 popular choices nearby when you text in your address, zip code, or city with the cuisine you have in mind.

Passing leads like hot potatoes

When the events team is on the road, it can be challenging to quickly look up in Salesforce whether or not a company is a target sales account. This means there is often a lag between the time our Events Team receives a contact’s information and the time it’s been verified and then sent to our Sales Team.
“It was fascinating to see the process our customers use to connect to our product.”
Marketing Operations Associate, Ellie Johnson, recognized the importance of reaching out to critical leads as quickly as possible. Using Programmable SMS, Ellie built an app that allows the Events Team to text in a company name to verify if they’re a target sales account. This quickly informs the Events Team of whether or not they need to pass the prospect’s information to sales.

Words to the wise

For those non-technical folks out there, myself included, rest assured that we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to use Programmable SMS.
To see an app in action, textFull Send” to 928-433-2447 to receive our latest blog post.
See how our team member, Kelsey Bernius, created her app, and follow the tips below to get started building your own.
  1. Brainstorm multiple ideas. Many of us had to discard our ideas and start afresh when we realized that there was not a public API available to achieve our dreamed of app, or, our idea was very advanced for a beginner-level coder. When brainstorming ideas, start simple--you can always add on more to your app.
  2. Find an API that fits. Before you start coding, find an API. There are many public APIs out there, but some you have to pay for or certain information is private. Researching API documentation will save you time in the long run.
  3. Eagle eyes. Attention to detail is hugely important when coding, and is something that most of us struggled with in our applications. When troubleshooting the app, it was often a missing end tag or an errant set of quotation marks that was preventing the app from functioning. Keep this in mind if your code isn’t deploying.
There are so many inconveniences in our personal and professional lives that can be solved with a simple text application. Use Twilio Programmable SMS to solve those challenges and make your every day (or your customers’ every day) a little smoother. To see the different ways businesses are utilizing Twilio’s products, check out the SMS Alerts Best Practice Guide.

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