his article is regarding a new approach to connecting Online Applications(business applications that are accessible over internet using user id and password), also called Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)Applications using INCOX™ platform, the next generation integration platform using Chat-bot & Natural Language Processing (NLP) to increase productivity. SMB businesses which are using Zoho Suite of SaaS applications, to handle various business process/functions like CRM, Accounting, Project management, HR etc., can leverage this platform and exchange information between these applications without the need for integration.
While there exist other integration platforms to accomplish SaaS app integration already, INCOX™ is truly a differentiator in terms of adopting a plug and play Approach to SaaS Application Integration. Not only that, the use of Chat-bot & guided natural interaction makes it easy for any business users to satisfy their integration needs without depending on a technical resource.
First of its kind, INCOX™ platform facilitates user interaction through a BOT called ‘incoxBot’. This BOT is enabled on popular chat platforms like Zoho Cliq, Slack and Skype. While BOTs are traditionally used in the area of Customer Service predominantly, incoxBot on the other hand is configured to facilitate interaction between SaaS applications.
The enablement of ‘incoxBot’ is a simple set of steps which is intuitive to a business user. Upon enablement, one can kick-start the interaction with the Bot using natural language interaction like ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, messages. Using NLP technologies, the BOT is intelligent enough to understand the user queries and facilitate single/cross application task execution needs. In an intention to not deviate from the intended purpose, the BOT is programmed to fallback to a standard guidance if a user interacts in an out of context topic with the BOT. In a way, it is guided natural interaction.
The User interface for INCOX™ platform is popular chat applications like Zoho Cliq, Slack and Microsoft Skype. At the current situation, ‘incoxBot’ is supported on the above three chat platforms.
Using the popular Chat-UI for INCOX™, a business user not only can continue to leverage the association with their well-acquainted messenger application but also reduce the hassle of taking longer time to familiarize a new UI. In addition, from one single place, they can interact with multiple applications and perform actions across them. Side by side, they can also collaborate with their teams and avoid frequent context switching between applications.
Application developers normally expose APIs which are the interfaces through which one can interact with an application. In addition to that, application specific connectors are needed in order connect two SaaS Applications. INCOX™ platform have these connectors built & pre-configured for all the supported applications as part of the platform. This offer plug n play facility when a business user needs a connection or exchange information between two of their SaaS applications, provided they are part of the application catalogue in the INCOX™ platform.
Market Integration platforms facilitates connection of applications through what is called ‘Trigger/Action’ methodology. One has to configure the trigger on the source application for which action will be performed on the target application. INCOX™ differs from this approach and offers touch free execution by defining ‘Workflows’. Workflows are pre-configured tasks that can retrieve information/do actions on single or more applications. In other words, these are the integration tasks a business user would perform to exchange information between business applications.
Major SaaS Application providers include a minimal set of ‘Workflows’ as an out of box feature within their suite of applications. This is based on popular demands from the consumers of the applications. Hence, INCOX™ excludes these ‘Workflows’ and includes the ones, that are frequently needed by any business for transacting between applications. These workflows are chosen after careful consideration basis the feedback and experience. By this approach, a business user just needs to pick the workflows of their choice and execute without worrying about any additional configuration. Also, these workflows must be run On-demand giving total control to the business user in choosing what & when information has to be exchanged. Current version of INCOX™ product supports ‘Create’, ‘Update’ and ‘View’ type of workflows for a SaaS Applications.
Execution of workflows is fairly a very simple process. During the interaction with ‘incoxBot’, users will be provided with buttons, drop-down lists and dialog boxes. These are nothing but ‘Clickable Actions’ of the pre-configured workflows. By clicking the buttons or submitting an action from the list, and providing inputs through the dialog boxes, tasks are executed in the backend either on a single or multiple SaaS applications.
Upon execution of an integration action, suggestions for related actions will be shown. This way, a business user can accomplish a work-flow of tasks across different SaaS application in a seamless manner.
Productivity gain is a factor of several aspects like, how (1) easily you can accomplish your tasks (2) quickly you can perform an action (3) repeatable the process is etc., INCOX™ facilitates all of these through single interface for multiple apps, interaction based task execution, clickable actions and workflow based approach.
You can refer to the below illustration of a business scenario where INCOX™ can help achieve productivity gain to the extent of 50% or more.
D2G Venturesis a small business travel agency organization that purchased Zoho One subscription. At multiple times of the day, they need to perform tasks across multiple Zoho Applications. Without INCOX™, they need to have these applications integrated and keep accessing the console multiple times. Assume that, they need to create invoices multiple times a day. Along with that, there are other related tasks like Creating a lead in CRM, Assigning a ticket in Zoho Desk, Adding leads to a Campaign etc., An illustrative estimation for doing 12 such tasks across multiple applications at different times of the day using ‘incoxBot’ is expected to take 50% lesser effort than performing the actions through individual application console. This is due to the single interface access to applications, clickable actions for tasks and repeatability due to pre-configured workflows.
INCOX™ platform is suitable for a small business organization using Zoho Apps/Quickbooks with limited internal resources to handle business functions/support IT needs. In addition to connecting applications, INCOX™ platform also helps to fetch key business information ‘On the Go’ from individual applications. It is worth experiencing INCOX™ which doubles its role as an integration platform in the context of multiple applications and as assistant when dealing with individual applications. Hence, INCOX™ will be a good fit when you are looking for a SaaS integration platform that requires Zero Touch, No development & No Trainingto connect your Zoho Suite of Applications, Quickbooks.