Reading Time: 4 mins
As businesses continue to shift from on-premise software to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, there is an increasing need to connect these systems and make them play well together.
According to a recent Techaisle survey, small businesses are using an average of five SaaS apps; medium and larger businesses employ more. Your sales, accounting and marketing teams may each depend on different SaaS services, causing vital customer data to get lost between departments. Additionally, your supply chain may depend upon customer data from these cloud applications being shared with legacy systems used by other departments.
Some companies solve this problem by tasking support staff with repetitive data entry; however, that is a loss of time and energy that could be spent on other projects. Other companies may ask their IT managers to code integrations, or hire a third party to do so, but the costs for this can quickly mount up. That’s where Integration as a Service (IaaS) tools come in.
These integration apps can make your systems administrator’s life easier by connecting all the disparate SaaS tools your company uses, ensuring that data flows smoothly between departments and eliminating the need to re-enter customer information by hand.
1. Boomi AtomSphere
Boomi AtomSphere is an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) that allows you to create integrations using only your web browser — no hardware or software installation required. It comes loaded with pre-built connections between various ERPs, such as between Salesforce and Netsuite ERP. That means you can get your integrations up and running in mere days, without having to do time-consuming custom coding.
This service connects apps and services so you can push data from one place to another, using automated triggers called “zaps.” A few examples of common zaps are saving all your Gmail attachments to Dropbox, creating new leads in Salesforce when someone signs up for your MailChimp email list, publishing new Wordpress or Tumblr blog entries to your social media accounts via Buffer and more. Zapier is very easy for non-tech types to use, and while some premium applications can’t be connected unless you spring for the paid plan, they do offer a free version.
Similar in function to Boomi AtomSphere, this iPaaS has a few different features, such as an open API. In his review, John Gaughan, director of technology services, retail direct and e-commerce at a consumer goods company, praised Jitterbit’s flexibility and ability to map data. “Jitterbit provides the ability to quickly map data between files and databases. Because it is done without much coding, it can be done quickly with a small team and maintained more easily.”
Jitterbit also offers data masking, real-time integration and a data chunker, making a powerful solution for many types of businesses, including e-commerce, healthcare providers and more.
If your company does a lot of online commerce, you might like CloudWork. With CloudWork you can automatically create a new user in Zendesk every time a customer buys something from you via Shopify. Since CloudWork syncs Zendesk with a number of other apps, you can simultaneously add that customer to your QuickBooks account, sign them up to your MailChimp email list, add them as a Salesforce contact and more. For small, agile businesses that don’t have any on-premises systems they need to integrate, CloudWork can act as a one-stop integration solution that saves you hours of rote data entry.
For those in the opposite position described above — i.e., instead of being a small and agile business, you’re larger and stuck with legacy systems you have to keep around — Scribe offers a light at the end of the tunnel. This iPaaS has fewer features than Boomi, but compensates with a very competitive price point and an open API. The Rainforest Alliance used Scribe Online to connect the disparate data systems that made up their supply chain, including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft SQL Azure, and their accounting system Dynamics SL.
“Just a few hours after starting to use Scribe Online, we had a clear stream of data going from Salesforce to our data warehouse and our entire supply chain view came into focus,” said Rainforest Alliance CTO Eugene Kogan.
Whether you’re a healthcare provider, online clothing store or large manufacturer, IaaS can help you build bridges between your cloud applications, on-premise software and SaaS tools. In the process, you’ll reduce the need for repetitive data entry and custom coding, freeing your support and IT staff to concentrate on other projects. IaaS also has the potential to clarify workflow and improve communication between departments, resulting in a better experience for your customers.
About the Author
Marie Biondolillo is a Portland-based writer from Northwest Washington. She's written about technology for Six Vertical, Principal Focus and Ethoseo, and has created media technology-focused copy for Open Signal and clients at Cascade Radio Group. Her fiction and journalism have been published by The Toast, Grow Northwest and The Cascadia Weekly, and her video work has appeared at Northwest Projections, Trailer Wars and XRAY TV.
Marie is currently the grants writer for Open Signal, Portland Community Media Center. See more of her work at clippings.me/mariebiondolillo.