6 Tips for Finding the Right Enterprise Integration and Automation Platform
In the last decade, organizations have found themselves needing to evolve to meet the needs of a growing, fast-paced technology-driven customer base. For larger enterprises, often bogged down by legacy processes and tech stacks, this can present some challenges. As a result, we’re seeing a trend where lines of business within an organization are purchasing and managing their own technology stacks independently from central IT. In addition to trying to meet the needs of their tech-enabled customers, organizations also contend with a large suite of legacy systems and complex organizational structures as they play in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing business environment.
The Proliferation of Point Solutions and the Demand for Enterprise Integration (iPaaS)
As more and more departments work outside of central IT to reach their customers in innovative ways; support their employees and address new markets with creative business models, work is getting increasingly fragmented across the organization. That’s because these disparate systems that do a great job in their core focus areas are not designed to seamlessly talk to each other. For these reasons, organizations are seeking improved integration and automation found in iPaaS solutions (Integration Platform as a Service).
The Problem with Fragmented Work and Data
This growing fragmentation of work is a strategic challenge for senior business leaders. Because leaders don’t have a holistic view of the work happening across an organization and the resources dedicated to each project, they can't always make the kind of speedy and well-informed decisions that are possible when you have an integrated view of your business. In addition, the disparate systems mean there are likely employees across the organization spending a significant portion of their day reconciling data across applications. One might say a solution to this is to build, in-house, integrations for these applications. However, that can be slow and costly for an organization, leading to missed business opportunities and inefficient operations. That’s why companies are turning to integration platform as a service (iPaaS). iPaaS is an easy-to-use integration and automation product that can be deployed by employees across the organization.
What is iPaaS and How Does it Drive Enterprise Connectivity?
iPaaS is a powerful solution for organizations as it enables employees across functions and business units to quickly build and deploy integration workflows, and to integrate data across multiple platforms. In view of the large number of apps and systems that need to be integrated into most businesses, as well as the breadth and diversity of employee profiles that need access to automation solutions and the importance of security and governance, it is critical for organizations to pick the right iPaaS vendor. Key areas an organization should focus on when evaluating iPaaS software are ease of use and completeness of vision.
The proliferation of enterprise point systems is driving demand for iPaaS solutions to improve organizational alignment and data management.
6 Tips To Help Make the Right Decision
1. Ease of Use
Given the wide range of employee skill levels, business groups and applications in play, ease of use is one of the most important considerations when picking the right integration product for your organization. The true power of automation is unlocked when employees in a variety of business functions – who don’t possess deep integration skills but are very knowledgeable of their business – discover new uses for automation because the iPaaS tool is simple to deploy and use. When evaluating vendors for ease of use, here are some questions you should ask:
- Does this product include a simple and visual user interface that all my employees can use regardless of technical or engineering skill level?
- Does this product make it easy for my employees to build connectors in a low code/no-code environment?
- Does this product make it easy to test and debug workflows?
2. Speed of Deployment
In an increasingly fast-paced and competitive business environment, speed of deployment can often decide the difference between success and failure for any venture. The smartest organizations empower their employees with the kind of products that help them rapidly create new ways to reach their customers and instantly capture value. It’s important to have an iPaaS tool that can be deployed quickly by new teams within your organization, as well as first-time users who are starting to use automation in their business lines. This can help spread the use of integration and automation across your organization which, in turn, gives a positive ROI. When evaluating iPaaS vendors for speed of deployment, here are some questions you should ask:
- Does this vendor provide a library of out-of-the-box connectors to the most common SaaS applications so my team can hit the ground running?
- Does this product make it easy for us to build new connections or to extend existing connectors quickly and without needing any coding effort?
- Can we build, share and reuse connections and workflows as we scale our business with a focus on speed to market?
- Is there a community of connectors and flows that we can readily pick from to deploy pre-built automations?
3. Modern and Scalable Architecture
The best modern integration platforms must be built from the ground up with a fully cloud-native architecture built for speed, simplicity, scalability, high availability and low total cost of ownership. A well-designed product architecture avoids the need for repeated capacity planning, resource provisioning and infrastructure management, allowing your team to focus on what matters in serving your customers in the best possible way. The iPaaS product that you pick must serve your business as it scales and achieves the high growth you aim for. When evaluating iPaaS vendors for scalability, ask these questions:
- Does this vendor have a track record in building and shipping products that are well-designed for the cloud-native era?
- Does this vendor have a track record of helping companies achieve their biggest strategic goals and a track record of operational success?
- Does this vendor have a client roster of prominent organizations that use their cloud-native products to run mission-critical workflows?
Modern organizations can be complex, spanning a range of departments, employee profiles, applications and systems, geographical locations and even market segments. To address the needs of such organizations, an iPaaS vendor needs to have flexibility built into its product, enabling users to manage this complexity from a single place. Moreover, as the business needs evolve, it is important to have an integration product that makes it easy to edit, add and remove workflow steps or modify connectors quickly. When evaluating vendors for flexibility, here are some questions you should ask:
- Does this product make it easy for us to connect to a wide range of business apps and services, including SaaS applications, using out-of-the-box connectors, databases, ERP and legacy systems?
- Will we be able to launch workflows using different types of process triggers including event-driven triggers, webhooks and scheduled triggers?
- Is the product UI simple enough to enable us to easily make modifications, test and launch updates to our workflow logic as our business needs change?
5. Security, Compliance and Governance
Today’s organizations operate in an environment where we see an increasing trend in the number and size of security-related incidents, with the cost of each security breach often running into millions of dollars and having a significant impact on customer trust. Additionally, the risk of mistakes related to manual processes of provisioning and de-provisioning of accounts, reconciling data between applications and triggering scripts for various use cases can pose significant liability issues for organizations. That’s why it’s important to pick an iPaaS vendor that has a deep understanding of security, compliance and governance, and has a track record of working with reputed and trusted clients in the enterprise space. When evaluating vendors for security, compliance and governance you should ask these questions:
- Does this product provide the latest state-of-the-art features with respect to the platform and product security including access management, audit trails and logging, data visualization and robust flows?
- Has this product been built from the ground up with a culture of security top of mind?
- Do prominent and reputed organizations in the world of business, government, education and nonprofits trust them with their business?
- Will this product make it easy for my central IT teams to have a good view of the end-to-end integration and automation flows that are powering my business?
- Will I be able to comply with regulations including HIPAA, GDPR and security audits using this product?
It is important to pick an iPaaS vendor whose pricing philosophy aligns with the value they deliver for your current and future business needs. Specifically, you should pick a vendor whose pricing is simple, transparent and does not result in any surprises when you try to connect new systems and applications to your workflows as your business needs evolve. When evaluating iPaaS vendors for pricing, here are some questions you should ask:
- Does this vendor provide a simple and understandable price for my workflows regardless of how many connections I am using? Am I able to transparently understand their pricing approach?
- Will this price remain the same on a per-flow basis even if my business needs change and I need to connect more applications or systems to my workflow or add new business logic?
The right iPaaS product can be a game-changer, positioning an organization to achieve a high level of success, in a sustainable way, in today’s competitive business world. We hope that these tips will help you pick the right partner for your organization.
iPaaS in Action - Palm Beach State
For Palm Beach State creating a holistic view of the hundreds of applications and systems they utilize daily, was an important reason to invest in iPaaS.
“We were looking to find a solution that allows us to get the relevant data needed to our stakeholders, while also presenting a user experience for students that makes sense,” Ken Libutti, CIO, said.
One way they are using iPaaS is to make the process of pulling student and registration information more efficient. Using the Workday connector, iPaaS pulls student data from Workday and places it into a data warehouse. Within the warehouse, one can find dashboards for student enrollment and student access measures.
“We didn’t want to build a bunch of point-to-point integrations, rather we wanted to leverage iPaaS to manage all integrations to one data warehouse,” Libutti said.
Additionally, they’ve built another workflow to handle how continuing education students are added to the database.
People who enroll in continuing education classes don’t need to be provisioned in the same way a student at the college needs to be, so Libutti and his team had to come up with a way to make Eventbrite work with their other systems.
“We needed to have the courses loaded into our learning management system, as well as make sure the people registered for these classes populated into RAVE,” he said. “RAVE is our mobile safety application, and we use it for a couple of things like emergency announcements, as well as communication to students in targets groups.”
Using iPaaS, Libutti and his team built a workflow that uses APIs from Eventbrite to pull the registration data for each person and place it into an SQL table.
That data in the SQL is then used to provision the continuing education students and add them to RAVE, they are also added to Canvas. The result is a fantastic user experience for the students registering for these non-credit classes through Eventbrite, and a workflow that automates the access and information needed by the institution on the backend to properly create logins and access needed from Active Directory, as well as getting the information into RAVE for any communication needs.
“We want all the data to come into the data warehouse because we know TeamDynamix iPaaS can keep all those APIs in sync, which keeps the data in sync and it ensures we are doing the transforms that need to be done to the data,” Libutti said. “Having that single source of truth – knowing the data is in sync and valid – is our main focus and why we were so interested in investing in iPaaS.”