September 10, 2019
Sooner or later each SaaS platform gets to the point where integrating with other cloud tools becomes inevitable in order to answer customers’ needs and stay competitive. One of the easiest and fastest ways is to use an integration platform as a service that offers integration solutions for SaaS companies.
iPaaS (integration platform as a service) solutions can replace custom API development and save time dramatically. Utilizing an integration platform as a service for your integrations has a wide range of benefits. Each API is different and it makes integrations difficult to build and even harder to maintain. By using an integration platform you can free your developers from integration headaches and let them focus on building and improving your core product.
Integration platform as a service solutions also let you rapidly add integrations, as integration platforms normally come with already hundreds of connected applications and thousands of ready-to-use API-endpoints presented as visual drag-and-drop blocks in an integration editor. Integration platforms, like Blendr.io, empower you with the ability to create a large number of native integrations for your customers, fill in your marketplace and as a result attract more customers.
Three types of integrations can be distinguished, based on their customisation level: (1) standard integrations that are the identical for all your customers, (2) Integrations that are slightly customised, and (3) completely custom integrations.
Standard integrations are common for SaaS companies with a market place, where customers activate integrations in a self-service manner. In many cases these integrations are high-volume, meaning that they are used by hundreds or thousands of customers.
Standard integrations can be configurable, they may have various options or settings, but they are not customised for individual customers. This means that e.g. adding extra business logic is not possible.
One example would be an integration between a cloud-telephony company and a CRM to automatically log call data as contact activity in the CRM. This integration does not require customisation and can be easily set up and used by thousands of end-customers.
Customised integrations are based on a template, which is adapted to the needs of individual customers as a “white glove” service. These customisations are typically done by the Customer Success Team of the SaaS company, or by a certified partner of the SaaS company.
The initial template is created once and can be used over and over for multiple customers. The template acts as a basis that can be easily adapted by adding for example custom business logic.
One example would be an integration between an event registration platform and a CRM, where multiple types of data are mapped, filters are added and custom business logic is used. While the integration itself is available as a template, it will be customised for each event organiser to fully support their needs.
Fully custom integrations are typically built for enterprise-level customers. These integrations are complex and they implement very specific use cases that require a consultancy approach with detailed requirements, analysis and overall project management.
One example would be connecting a database to a data enrichment application and sending companies’ risk scores to a CRM, while at the same time notifying an assigned account manager on Slack. Custom integration scenarios vary from company to company and are typically not reusable for other enterprises.
A very important question to ask yourself when selecting an integration platform is: who will build the integrations ? Will you set up an internal integration team or will you outsource the creation and maintenance of integrations to your trusted iPaaS partner?
If you decide to outsource, ask yourself the following questions: Does your iPaaS partner offer Professional Services? Can your iPaaS partner provide you with an SLA on its Professional Service?
Here are some benefits of outsourcing integrations to an iPaaS company:
When you outsource the creation of new integrations to an iPaaS company, you do not have to assign internal resources to build new integrations and you don’t have to spend time on maintenance. Especially when you want to launch 50+ native integrations in your Market Place in a couple of weeks, outsourcing might be a good option.
One underestimated challenge of building integrations is that each cloud application is different. Each time you build a new integration, you need to understand the concepts of the specific destination platform.
For example when you compare marketing automation platforms such as Salesforce, Marketo, Hubspot, Eloqua and others, you will notice that they all have unique features, they handle data differently and they each implement concept differently (e.g. campaign members, segments, dynamics lists etc.). This might be a challenge when you need to implement an integration that needs to leverage these features.
Before publishing newly created integrations, you need to test them, therefore you need access to a test environment (or sandbox) for each destination platform that you integrate. For some platforms it’s hard to get access to a test environment and free trials may not be available. Therefore, when selecting an iPaaS vendor, make sure they can provide you with temporary test accounts for a wide range of platforms.
Running business-critical integrations is a great responsibility that should not be underestimated. A failing integration might block critical business processes for your customers and puts your SaaS company at risk. By outsourcing the creation, maintenance and monitoring of integrations for your customers, you can rely on a specialised partner to provide your customers with an enterprise-grade SLA, without taking any liability yourself.
When selecting an iPaaS vendor, make sure to check the ability to outsource the full responsibility of specific integration projects including briefing, planning, consulting, communication, deadlines, setup, testing, monitoring, maintenance, liability etc.
An embedded integration platform such as Blendr.io helps SaaS companies to dramatically speed up their integration capabilities and rapidly fill in their marketplace with secure and scalable integrations. By utilising an iPaaS solution such as Blendr.io, you can provide your customers with every type of integration that your business needs: (1) standard self-service integrations, (2) customised integrations delivered as a “white glove” service, and (3) custom integrations tailored to the need of your enterprise-grade customers. In each case, you can decide if you want to build these integrations within your team or outsource every aspect to the Blendr.io Professional Services team.