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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. 

What is Software Integration?

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. 

Benefits of Software Integration

How exactly does application connection help businesses grow? Let’s explore the most integral advantages of utilizing integration software systems. 

Software Integration

Data De-siloing

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. 

Holistic Data Overview

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. 

Higher Productivity 

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. 

Business Process Optimization

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. 

Process Automation

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. 

Improved Employee Satisfaction

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. 

4 Common Types of Software Integrations

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. 

Software Integration

Custom Application Programming Interface (API)

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. 

Software Integration

Custom API Pros

  • Improved scalability: By quickly and effortlessly connecting to social media, finance, and business apps, businesses can considerably expand their functionality. There’s no need to invest in building your own payment system or CRM tool—you can simply tether your application to an existing solution. 
  • Enhanced customer experience: Offering a larger array of services can boost user satisfaction and broaden your client base. For example, an eCommerce platform can utilize PayPal’s API to provide an additional payment method to their customers. 
  • Task automation: As discussed in the X example, your employees can take advantage of task automation through APIs. Instead of visiting the website and spending time on repetitive actions, they can automate some daily tasks. 

Custom API Cons

  • Security concerns: Working with custom APIs can make you more susceptible to third-party vulnerabilities. If your partner experiences a data breach, your company and user data will become potentially exposed to cybercriminals. 
  • Costly development and maintenance: In some cases, API integration requires additional development work. Furthermore, these integrations need to be continuously managed and monitored to ensure high performance. 

Native Integrations

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. 

Software Integration

Native Integrations Pros

  • Ease of use: Native integrations often come as a deal in a subscription package and allow businesses to swiftly install them without any coding. You simply need to activate the service in the app’s settings and enjoy the connection. 
  • No extra fees: Native integrations are commonly part of the application licensing and don’t cost anything extra for the user. 
  • Support and maintenance: Companies that offer native integrations also usually provide customer support to assist you in problem-solving. Additionally, these services can smooth any roadblocks during the adoption process. 

Native Integrations Cons

  • Limited options: Only a handful of highly popular organizations offer native integrations. If you require a connection to a less widely adopted service, you most likely will not be able to use this option. 
  • Lack of control: If the native API provider stops maintaining and updating their services, you will not be able to use it anymore. Furthermore, the growing number of unfixed errors and bugs can make you more vulnerable to cyberattacks. 

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)

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. 

Software Integration

iPaaS Pros

  • Window into cloud services: iPaaS can help organizations cover their needs in the cloud environment. This allows businesses to take advantage of increased data volume capabilities, mobile device support, faster development lifecycles, and other cloud benefits. 
  • Better security: iPaaS systems offer cutting-edge security and governance control to help you safeguard your data. Features like continuous monitoring, threat detection, and observability tools help organizations stay on top of their data protection game. 
  • Legacy modernization: It can be difficult to migrate your legacy applications to the cloud due to incompatibility. iPaaS platforms can circumvent this challenge and help you benefit from cloud services. 

iPaaS Cons

  • High technical expertise: An iPaaS commitment requires seasoned technical talent to set up and maintain the platform. From integration adoption to monitoring and evaluation, you will need an in-house or overseas professional to ensure a high level of performance.
  • Choice of vendor: Not a one-size-fits-all solution, iPaaS requires careful investigation and consideration. Some services are perfect for certain business circumstances, while others may not work. 

Live Snapshots 

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. 

Software Integration

Live Snapshots Pros

  • No coding skills required: Live snapshots work via an extension and can be used by anyone, including non-technical specialists. No coding or development is needed to set it up or use it on a daily basis. 
  • Versatility: Unlike APIs that can only be connected to one application at a time, snapshots can be taken from any app, website, or platform. 

Live Snapshots Cons

  • Limited capacity: Not an enterprise integration tool; live snapshots offer limited functionality. 
  • Lack of automation: The user has to take a snapshot to share information as the system will not automatically upload new data entries.

How to Implement Software Integrations

There are several ways of conducting software integrations, depending on your objectives as well as the components that need to be connected: 

Software Integration

Point-to-Point (P2P) Model

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 Model

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. 

Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) Model

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. 

Software Integration Examples

Let’s examine software integrations using concrete use cases across departments and applications. Here are some of the most common software integration examples:

Software Integration

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integration

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.

eCommerce Platform Integration

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.

Human Resource Software Integration

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. 

Best Practices for Software Integration 

Finally, let’s investigate the best practices that will simplify and accelerate your software integrating activities and allow you to avoid common mistakes. 

Software Integration

Goal Definition

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. 

Carefully Select the Right Applications

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. 

Choose the Integration Type

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. 

Determine Data Ownership

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. 

Continuous Monitoring

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. 

Final Thoughts 

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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