SaaS has truly democratized technology and has forever changed people’s perspective on automation. Once something only big companies could implement, automation is now the most accessible it has ever been. Businesses big and small are looking to automate processes early on, so they can scale up effectively, rather than automating later on, which was the norm before the SaaS boom.
To get a better picture of how extensive the impact of SaaS is, let’s look at some interesting trends from BetterCloud’s State of the SaaS-Powered Workplace study:
A business uses around 16 SaaS apps on average
73% of companies say all their apps will be SaaS soon
38% of companies already run entirely on SaaS
When looking at businesses that use more than a dozen SaaS apps—and some running entirely on SaaS—it clearly represents the transition to a more sophisticated world. A world where complex business operations, like sales, support, marketing, collaboration, and more, can be automated and streamlined through apps dedicated to solving each one of those problems. This is a world where apps are available in abundance, providing a variety of options for businesses to choose the ones that fit best for their organizational needs. And most importantly, this is a world where automation has become both affordable and necessary for businesses to provide competitive service to their customers.
However, silos are inevitable.
When a business finds itself in a position where numerous apps are used to run the different processes involved, silos can become a problem—and this isn’t surprising. We’re looking at a market that offers hundreds of apps to choose from. While many apps offer popular integrations, we may or may not need them for our business—and it’s possible the integrations we do want might not be supported.
Building integrations through in-house developers is an alternative, but oftentimes not feasible, because of the number of integrations needed, as well as the sheer cost and organizational bandwidth required to manage developers. When the apps themselves do not offer native integrations, and the cost of building integrations in-house is too expensive, an integration platform provides an effective solution—it offers integrations on the cloud, and you don’t have to write a line of code. Integration platforms support hundreds of applications containing both ready-to-use connections, as well as providing you with the option to customize actions, as well.
Building your own SaaS ecosystem
If the apps used in automating different operations don’t interact with each other, then the whole process is only one level better than storing the information in spreadsheets—we’ll need to spend hours of time transferring data from one app to another.
An integration platform, however, can carry out a set of operations across apps, based on a trigger. We get to define the trigger, as well as what we want the other apps wired into the platform to do.
Let’s take an ecommerce use case—when a purchase happens on the store, you want the inventory to be updated. If the stock is low, a new order needs to be placed. You might also want to tailor the delivery (standard or drop shipment) according to the stock, with a custom notification message. You also want to send the customer an invoice and make an income entry in your books. You might also want a post-delivery email sequence to make sure the customer makes the most of the product, and maybe even offer a discount code for future purchases.
Now, if you have an integration platform and have set this up, everything will happen as soon as a customer completes a purchase, without you needing to do a thing. We’re talking about a set of actions across different aspects of business, like inventory, accounting, logistics, and marketing, all taking place automatically.
If you have an integrated system, it’s no longer a bunch of apps each doing their own thing, but an ecosystem of apps working with one another to execute complex workflows.
Thus the primary benefit of an integration platform is that it transforms a cluster of apps into a close-knit ecosystem.
While executing complex workflows is essential, what’s equally important is context. You don’t want your sales team to pitch to a customer about a product when the customer is in a conversation with support regarding a problem. Departments within the company should be transparent in their communication with one another. However, even if there is a culture of open communication, if it’s not reflected in the structure—in the technology—then silos will remain, which will result in awkward customer interactions due to a lack of context. An integration platform gives you the flexibility to insert context when it’s required.
Specialization and scalability
It’s normal to demand best-in-class software that performs a specific function exceptionally well. In fact, Forrester analyst Jay McBain predicts that the 100,000-odd software companies currently prevailing could grow to 1 million by 2027, due to the hyper-specialization that the market is demanding. But the downside of this trend is that using software from so many different vendors will make it difficult to build the all-important SaaS ecosystem that prevents silos. An integration platform is especially useful here, as it keeps adding integration support to more and more apps, thereby enabling us to freely choose the ones that suit the operation best, without needing to worry about integrations.
Since an integration platform, just like SaaS, is offered as a service, we have the freedom to create a specialized interconnected network of apps that executes complex workflows and negates silos.