Application development is a complex and pricey process that has been becoming more challenging due to ever-increasing customer expectations. For this reason, integration software services have been gaining more traction as they offer high-quality apps without lengthy development steps. So what is software integration, and how does it help? Basically, using APIs and other integration types, companies can offer an additional service to their employees and users without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ll discuss software integration processes, types, benefits, and examples, and cover the best practices for efficiently integrating your applications.
Software integration is the process of combining several digital solutions to expand their capabilities and exchange data. Without interconnectivity of business applications throughout the organization, companies are left with handling numerous data sources. This leads to data duplication, loss, and obscurity, which devastates business efficiency and transparency. IT integration services help companies avoid these obstacles.
Additionally, more and more corporations are moving data to the cloud to leverage cost savings, better security, worldwide access, and other benefits. However, the lack of unified and organized data storage undermines the advantages that cloud-based solutions can bring. It’s vital to adopt integration software systems to create a single source of truth. For example, businesses can leverage software integration to take advantage of Salesforce consulting services and management tools.
Recent research by Elastic shows that 54% of American employees state they spend more time looking for relevant information to respond to work emails and messages. They switch between an average of 13 tools to gather all the important data to perform their duties. These data searches eat away enormous portions of employees’ precious time, leading to burnout, underperformance, and a decrease in motivation.
How exactly does application connection help businesses grow? Let’s explore the most integral advantages of utilizing integration software systems.
Traditionally, organizations employ several applications for each department. For example, a marketing team utilizes marketing automation tools while sales managers stick to CRM systems. However, the goal of executing marketing campaigns is to reach new audiences and generate leads. If these potential customers are not available to the sales team, the efforts of marketers become useless.
This phenomenon is referred to as data siloing or creating data silos between various departments. The longer you keep this system going, the more discrepancy appears across the applications. Joining these software solutions will unify datasets, offer seamless data transfer and synchronization, and ensure both departments work with the latest customer information.
Fragmented data prevents employees from seeing the whole picture. Collecting and analyzing separate datasets will yield different results that only make sense in isolation. In reality, business data is connected and should be examined in context. This lack of visibility affects decision-making and prohibits executives from uncovering patterns and insights.
Integration software provides a much-needed overview of relevant data in the right context. Relying on these findings, business executives can make informed decisions.
A Workgeist Report from 2021 states that 43% of respondents report wasting a lot of time switching between different business tools. This makes it difficult for workers to focus on their assignments and tanks productivity in the long term. Moreover, it takes on average 9.5 minutes for an employee to get back into work mode.
Software integration combats this issue and reduces context-switching fatigue. Through easy data access in real-time, your staff can enjoy an uninterrupted workflow and perform their tasks faster.
The absence of unified data storage can also be disruptive to the company’s business processes. For example, preparing for a weekly meeting takes a lot longer when you have to extract data from a multitude of sources. On top of that, this disparaged information complicates reporting and analyzing. Experts have to merge various datasets to be able to develop meaningful insights into how business is performing.
Integration software can produce automated reports, charts, and dashboards that capture all vital information. Instead of wasting valuable time on compiling data from multiple tabs, your employees can focus on achieving business goals.
Integration platforms can also facilitate greater automation. For instance, you can set up an application to be triggered in case of a certain event to automatically troubleshoot the issue. This feature will not only solve problems proactively but also reduce potential costs. Resolving a smaller issue is a lot easier and cheaper than dealing with a serious roadblock.
The ability to delegate some mundane tasks to an application can significantly boost team morale. Constantly dealing with software-switching, wasting hours on information searches, and re-entering data across business tools leads to a decrease in motivation, increased human error, and even burnout. Using integration systems, your personnel can devote their energy to strategic and analytical work instead of mindless keystrokes.
In this section, we’ll take a look at the four popular types of software integrations to help you identify which model works best for you.
Custom APIs use API code to connect with a third-party application and interact with it. For example, whenever you use Google Analytics to measure your metrics and ranking, you are utilizing Google’s API to do so. Customer APIs can allow your employees to automate some of their tasks. Using X’s API, you can automatically share your new article or press release without manually opening an app and tweeting.
Native integrations use API code written into the system itself thus providing more functionality. Created by the company’s development team or IT partner, they facilitate a smoother and faster data transfer. For instance, the business messaging tool Slack offers native integration in Salesforce enabling you to transmit relevant conversations directly into the CRM system without leaving the platform.
Integration Platform-as-a-Service is a suite of tools that tethers software applications deployed in the cloud and on-premise. An iPaaS system provides connectors and transformations to aid businesses in creating applications and integration flows. They can also facilitate legacy app modernization and offer additional features like mobile support, social media app integration, and business data management.
Live snapshots are screenshots made through an extension that can be embedded into various tools like Slack and Google Docs. Basically, you can take a snapshot of customer data in your CRM tool and instantly transmit it to the relevant application.
There are several ways of conducting software integrations, depending on your objectives as well as the components that need to be connected:
The P2P integration model is a system in which each component directly communicates with the connected apps. In this approach, data is extracted, modified, and sent directly to another system that autonomously implements the logic by relying on protocols and data models. The P2P model is mostly used by companies that don’t have complex business logic.
Hub-and-spoke is a more complex software integration option that tethers all components through a centralized hub, or message broker. This model is superior in terms of security and simplicity as all systems only communicate with the hub. The hub-and-spoke approach is widely adopted by eCommerce, financial, payment, and other platforms dealing with security risks.
The ESB model is a method designed for advanced software integrations. It comprises an isolated subsystem that acts as a user interface layer to connect components. Unlike hub-and-spoke with a central integration engine, ESB supplies each system with a separate integration engine alongside a message broker. This model is a great option for a large enterprise software solution that handles complex projects and needs scalability.
Let’s examine software integrations using concrete use cases across departments and applications. Here are some of the most common software integration examples:
A CRM system is usually required to perform various tasks across marketing, sales, and HR departments. To maximize its efficiency, companies connect their CRM tools with marketing automation solutions. This combination allows marketers to explore user behavior, interaction, and preferences and build campaigns with this information in mind. A prominent example of CRM integration is the Salesforce system for business organization.
Marketplaces require robust and versatile payment systems that suit their customer base. For example, they connect with PayPal and Stripe to enable different payment options and appeal to wider audiences. Moreover, eCommerce platforms like Shopify offer APIs to help their users create and manage their online products.
Among other business automation solutions cases is HR integration which allows businesses to unify employee data. By connecting with IT system management, the HR teams can have a broader overview of staff performance and attendance. Payroll integration enables faster and error-free salary calculation and processing.
Finally, let’s investigate the best practices that will simplify and accelerate your software integrating activities and allow you to avoid common mistakes.
Before diving into software integration processes, it’s imperative to clearly define objectives. The most common use cases for this step include improved collaboration, synchronization of user data, and process automation. Knowing the goals will help you ensure your integration activities are in alignment with business strategies.
You can begin by assessing which apps drain your employees’ time and energy and require constant switching. Try to pinpoint software integration of which systems will yield the best outcomes. For example, many businesses find that connecting CRM with an email automation tool delivers excellent results.
Evaluate your resources and needs to select the most fitting software integration type. You can also solicit assistance from a reliable IT partner to ensure you’re choosing the best strategy.
Various types of integration software systems handle data ownership differently. Before making a decision, find out who is responsible for safeguarding your data and privacy. Furthermore, investigate the application you would like to connect with to ensure their compliance with laws and regulations addressing data sharing and management.
After launching the integration, keep track of its performance to make sure any issues are resolved. It’s also recommended to collect feedback from your employees and adopt necessary changes.
Delivering a centralized system of business applications will increase employee productivity, improve security, and provide process automation. Eliminating data silos and creating a transparent workflow can be a game-changer for any organization. If you are intrigued by the benefits and would like to explore more software integration examples, get in touch with NIX. As experts in software development services, we have first-hand experience in connecting applications in the most efficient and safe way. Reach out to our team to receive expert-level consultation and enhance your business operations.
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