In order to break down the silos across your organization, you need to break down the silos in your tech stack as well. Traditionally, the way to enable the flow of data between platforms was with integrations.
“When you traditionally talk about systems of integration, it meant that you were literally doing a one-to-one connection between two applications within your tech ecosystem, or you were managing a piece of middleware in your environment which was helping with that process.”
— Dave Lapointe, Director of Integrations and Applications at New Breed
However, implementing and maintaining those integrations requires overhead costs in terms of hardware, software, expertise, and time — making them inaccessible for some companies. To solve for that, a new type of software entered the market: iPaaS or integration-platform-as-a-service.
What is iPaaS? Redefining CRM Integration
Integration Platform as a Service, better known as iPaaS, is an innovative cloud service that streamlines the integration of various applications, databases, processes, and services across on-premise and cloud environments. iPaaS is the game-changer that facilitates seamless data and process management in an increasingly digital and complex world.
iPaaS bridges the gap between different software applications and services. Whether they're located in the cloud or on-premise, iPaaS ensures your systems communicate effectively, enabling you to maximize efficiency and productivity.
“Integration-platform-as-a-service is essentially a suite of cloud-based tools which allow an organization to tie together both on-premise and cloud-based systems, similar to how a traditional integration works,” Dave says. “The big difference is that everything lives in the cloud: it’s all managed in that environment.”
The Building Blocks of iPaaS
The future of iPaaS lies in its capacity to adapt to changing business requirements. With the rise of IoT, big data, and AI explosion, iPaaS will continue to evolve and provide advanced functionalities, making it a staple in modern business management. To fully appreciate the capabilities of iPaaS, it's crucial to understand its core components:
- Cloud Services Integration: iPaaS allows you to smoothly integrate cloud services and applications, irrespective of the provider.
- API Management: This feature allows you to create, manage, and orchestrate service APIs throughout their lifecycle.
- Data Integration: iPaaS facilitates the integration and interpretation of data from various sources and formats, ensuring consistent data quality.
- B2B Integration: iPaaS enhances collaboration with partners by automating business data exchange.
- Application Integration: iPaaS streamlines the process of integrating and coordinating processes between different software applications.
Strategic Benefits of iPaaS
“In a traditional model where you are tying together systems within your organization, it did require a significant investment in the level of expertise, the people you had on staff or vendors to manage that,” Dave says.
iPaaS reduces the resources required for integrations across the board and makes them plug and play. The benefits of IPaaS include:
Rather than needing to build every integration from the ground up or configure complex middleware, iPaaS platforms have everything needed for an integration already in place. This makes the process of connecting platforms much quicker.
Less need for developers
Traditionally, integrations were a very technical thing managed by an IT group and carried out by developers and system administrators. Whereas, the whole promise of iPaaS is that you can have people who are really non-technical building and managing these integrations.
Being in the cloud gives you burstable, on-demand scalability, which you don’t necessarily get when you’re managing, building and implementing something in-house. That makes the process for scaling as your business grows much easier.
By reducing the time it takes to build and manage integrations and the technical skills it takes to set up and monitor them, iPaaS tools cost less than trying to use middleware or develop integrations in-house.
Key Considerations when Choosing an iPaaS Solution
While iPaaS provides significant benefits, your top priority should. be to choose the right solution for your specific needs. Here are some key considerations when selecting an iPaaS solution:
- Compatibility: Ensure the iPaaS solution is compatible with your existing systems and processes.
- Security: Look for a solution that provides robust security features, including data encryption and secure access controls.
- Scalability: Make sure the solution can scale as your business grows.
- Vendor Support: Consider the level of support the vendor offers. This includes training, customer service, and technical assistance.
Use Cases for Traditional Integrations vs. iPaaS
While there are a lot of benefits to iPaaS solutions, traditional integrations aren’t obsolete. There are situations in which each solution would be more appropriate.
If you’re a small business, and you only need to connect two tools in a standard way, an iPaaS solution might offer more functionality than you actually need. So it could be easier to connect and manage a traditional integration in-house.
Additionally, if you require a super unique custom integration that is subject to numerous complex business rules and processes, then it might be more efficient to build a traditional integration in-house as opposed to trying to force an iPaaS solution to conform to your needs.
On the other hand, iPaaS tools are the better option if you have a lot of platforms being integrated because you can manage all those connections from a single tool.
Additionally, if you want to free up your internal technical resources, or if you don’t have any, iPaaS solutions will enable you to still connect your tech stack the way your business requires.
iPaaS breaks down the barrier to entry for doing integrations and data exchanges.
“You don’t need to be a programmer or a deep systems administrator to actually allow two systems to exchange data and talk,” Dave says. “It makes data integrations more friendly.”
On top of that, iPaaS is more cost-effective than traditional integrations. So, while there are a few use cases where integrations might be the better option, in general an iPaaS tool will be more beneficial for your business.
Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content.