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Enabling agile integrations: how to choose the right platform

(Image credit: Image Credit: Wright Studio / Shutterstock)

Using a single platform for all your team (developers, customer success, sales etc.) will enable agile integrations, lighten the development load, ease the burden on internal commercial teams and ultimately delight users.

There is a growing number of companies focused entirely on an ‘embedded’ principle - the provision of a toolkit to enable you to focus primarily on the customer solution (or feature) while the heavy lifting from a coding/infrastructure perspective has been done by the embedded SaaS provider.

These embedded solutions exist (amongst others) across BI/business analytics, payments, subscription management, security, and of course integration. There are three ways in which to solve your integration needs: outsource, build or design. When it comes to your business, how might an embedded iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solution work and should you build or buy?

What types of integration are available?

There are three variations of the type of integration solution you can adopt that we need to explore further:

“Outsource” – where you deploy a ring-fenced solution that achieves the customer’s integration off-platform e.g. Zapier

“Build” – where you start from scratch and write code to achieve each integration

“Design” – where you design integrations using an iPaaS platform which is embedded within your platform

Maximising integration coverage

In reality, a combined approach of integration types allows you to maximise your integration coverage in the most efficient way.

With thousands of SaaS applications available on the market, it is highly unlikely you will be able to connect to all of them natively. However, by prioritising your users’ most requested (and most valuable) integrations to be deployed in-app (through build or design), you can still cater for more niche requests through an external third-party integration provider.

The question then becomes which combination of approaches works best for your company:

Design + Outsource

or….

Build + Outsource

or…

Design + Build

or…

Build + Design + Outsource

So how should you go about choosing which approach is right for you?

Choosing the right integration combination for your needs

Here are the five key questions that will help you consider what you should do:

  • Is it important that I resolve my customer integration at ‘pain point’?
  • Is my application lightly or deeply enhanced by third party applications?
  • Are integration requirements consistent across all 80 per cent+ of my customers?
  • What is most important: the source code or the end-customer solution?
  • Are my customer’s integration needs relatively fixed or do I need agility?

With these questions in mind, you can look at the needs of your platform, and your platform’s users, to work out what combination would be best for you.

What are the benefits of designing integrations with an IPaaS toolkit?

Designing a solution is where you use a low-code solution such as an embedded IPaaS toolkit that already has the components for connectivity built in.

This allows you to focus on designing the customer solution while the code to achieve your solution is handled behind the scenes. IPaaS solutions tend to be both agile and scalable while also resolving the customer’s need at point of requirement.

Other key benefits of selecting a design-based approach to your integration strategy include:

Reducing integration deployment time

Embedded iPaaS platforms are like a box of Lego bricks with pre-built components, an environment designed for creativity, and the ability to build whatever you choose within limited boundaries.

Rather than the need to build, manage and maintain the component building blocks of your integrations, embedded iPaaS platforms allow you to switch on new integrations rapidly, simply through activating them within your integration platform’s environment.

The pre-packaged nature of these platforms facilitate a reduction in developer resources for scheduling builds and ongoing maintenance.

Integrations can be delivered by developers or commercial staff

Having a range of components available to build out and deploy integrations should reduce integration-related requirements on developers. A well-designed iPaaS toolkit should be appropriate and accessible to both developers (technical) and commercial staff (non-technical), making integration more agile and accessible to wider teams.

An added layer of usability should allow for integrations to be rapidly delivered by those that understand the customer’s use case, empowering them to meet their customers’ integration requirements at point of need.

Truly resolving integration speed to market and responsiveness relies upon integration being owned by the appropriate team at the appropriate time. For this reason, it is best to steer clear of a solution that is designed for one single internal audience.

A unified workflow for all integration types

Why use two methodologies for fulfilling your users’ integration requirements? While in-app self-service integrations are a huge benefit to both users and development teams, there are always going to be exceptions when it comes to integration requests.

An iPaaS platform will cover both eventualities; so you can create and publish self-service integrations, as well as empowering your team to create bespoke, private integrations for your users.

This opens customisation revenue opportunities while ensuring that all of your team use a single platform, imposing consistency throughout integration developments.

Looking inwards to identify an appropriate integration strategy

Selecting a long-term integration strategy should be driven by internal parameters as well as external need. Only by looking at how you can ensure integrations add to your product’s usability without becoming a burden on your team will you find which method is right for you; build, outsource or design.

Daniel Twigg, Marketing Manager, Cyclr