With the advent of Cloud Computing and Software as Service technologies, the hardware and software management for computing needs has taken new heights. Facilities like Pay-as you go, On-demand provisioning and Scale on demand etc., has greatly reduced the Total Cost of ownership of IT assets. While every enterprise stands to gain from this development, the benefit will largely be attractive for SMB segment where cost is a prime driver for technology adoption.
In this article, we shall discuss about SaaS Integration, different methods prevailing in the market and how INCOX, a next generation iPaas platform differently deals with it.
App eco-system is an outburst since the time smartphones have taken a center stage of every individual’s day-to day life. While these apps offered from iOS or Android stores is a representative of SaaS applications, for the purpose of this article, we define SaaS applications are the ones being used for enabling business transactions. e.g. a CRM application from Sales force automates the entire sales process. Likewise, QuickBooks is a SaaS application for accounting automation. While there are many different service variants/providers of SaaS applications, the core focus of this article is around the solution to overcome the challenge of providing a connected experience between them in a simple and easy manner
SaaS applications are mainly popular amongst SMB sector due to its flagship feature ‘Zero Capex Requirement’. Predominantly, they are used for functions like CRM, accounting, support, project management, HR etc., One study indicates that an average of 16 SaaS applications are used by an SMB Organization. When these applications operate in silos, the data available within individual business applications can’t be used for business advantage. For e.g. the customer data in CRM if tied with payment data in accounting package, one can come to know about the pending customer payments. Through integrated working of these applications, a meaningful correlation of data can be made about a customer life-cycle and that insight can be used for business advantages. This is where SaaS integration comes handy.
Traditionally, application integration is carried out by developers using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs. APIs are something like a USB port in your hardware device. Unless the USB interface is available, you can’t plug USB devices. Similarly, unless the APIs are exposed by the app developers, connections between the apps are not possible. For the purpose of this article, we consider those SaaS applications for which APIs are made available.
Note: Almost all SaaS applications have APIs except there could be a few unknown exceptions. Refer the below picture for a simple illustration of SaaS app integration.
So, in order to connect these SaaS applications, one needs to code using the APIs to make the right connections between the apps. This needs development knowledge which a business user/owner may not be comfortable with. Even if business user is a developer, he may not be able to focus his attention towards app integration over his core business. This is where iPaas (Integration platform as a service) platforms comes handy. iPaas platforms ease the job of integration by offering configurable interface using which a tech savvy, non-developer business user can configure integration between SaaS Applications. A comparison of how integration became easy with an iPaas platform is depicted in the below diagram.
In the above diagram, you will notice the ‘coding API’ part is replaced by ‘configuring workflows’ which is amajor relief for a non-developer to perform integration.
INCOX (https://u74.f94.myftpupload.com), the integration platform from ‘dot2Globe’ (https://www.dot2globe.com) does it differently by simplifying integration to the level of a computer savvy, non-technical business user. INCOX is currently supported in English. Using Cloud, BOT & NLP technologies, INCOX simplifies the integration to a ‘Ready to Use’, ‘Easy to Use’ and ‘Self-service’ mode. incoxBot, the integration assistant of INCOX platform facilitates Zero touch integration and execution of tasks between applications through clickable buttons and interaction. The below diagram is a simple illustration of integration using INCOX. You can notice the facilitation of integration has greatly reduced to the level of minutes instead days & hours.
All the necessary ingredients for SaaS integration like App connectors, API configurations are pre-configured within the INCOX platform. Users don’t need to do any configuration from their side. Similarly, integration tasks referred as ‘Workflows’ are also pre-configured. These workflows are nothing but frequently used business tasks between applications to exchange information. Hence, it is a ready-to use platform for SaaS integration
INCOX uses popular chat platforms like Slack, Skype and ZOHO Cliq as the user interface for its integration BOT (‘incoxBot’) to operate and enable integration. incoxBot exist like an additional contact in the Chat platform. Since, a familiar medium is used as a user interface (UI), no training is needed for the end user to familiarize & use the platform.
incoxBot facilitates interaction through Natural Language Conversation in English. A user who is fairly proficient in English language can interact with the Bot using simple sentences or keywords. E.g. create an invoice, add lead to campaign list etc., By interacting with the Bot, a business user can self-service their integration needs eliminating dependency on development/IT resources.
Thus, by leveraging INCOX platform, the need for connected business application is facilitated eliminating the key challenge faced by small businesses. In addition to that, businesses can increase the agility and productivity by leveraging the apps/appropriate workflows to orchestrate process automation for business verticals.
Note: INCOX is a growing platform with presently having coverage for Zoho eco-system of apps & QuickBooks. While each iPaas has its own set of advantages, the views & benefits expressed in this article by the author is based on controlled testing observations and comparison of various product features. It is recommended that, a business user shall experience it first-hand by signing up for a trial below.