Companies are increasingly realizing the importance of moving to the cloud. According to Forbes, 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by 2020, a 15% jump from 2017. From relinquishing the burden of managing their own data centers to reaping the many benefits AI and ML offer today, more cloud adopters are experiencing greater agility, cost-savings and systems reliability in their business.
As the integration platform as a service (iPaaS) market continues to grow, the app ecosystem continues to expand, and more IT and business systems teams are determining how to solve their integration problems, what criteria should be considered when evaluating an integration platform?
1. What do industry experts say?
While it would be nice to evaluate every product on the market, most companies don’t have the time to do that. Many rely on industry analysts like Gartner, Forrester and others to identify top vendors of a solution and how they best serve a business need.
Annually, for example, Gartner releases its Magic Quadrant for Enterprise iPaaS, which divides vendors into four categories: leaders, challengers, niche players and visionaries. Those with the highest completeness of vision and ability to execute are identified in the leaders quadrant in the upper right-hand corner.
2. How much data can the platform integrate from the past, present and future?
Most companies have massive amounts of data stored in cloud apps, on-prem systems, devices and other locations. Moreover, that data comes in a variety of formats that move at various speeds. For integration, you’ll need a platform that supports your complex data needs in the long run and prevents you from having to identify a separate solution in the near future.
Ideally, you’ll want an enterprise integration platform that supports a large number of use cases. For example, does it offer pre-built workflows automating apps integral to business like Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow and Slack? Does it offer batch and real-time processing so that your data is ready when you need it, or customizable job reports to make it easier to spot anomalies? To what extent does the platform ensure no data loss in case of outages that are out of your control? Are you able to control how far back your data can be synced?
Lastly, is there any coding involved, and if so, how much? As someone in IT or MarketingOps, could you walk into a demonstration and instantly know how this platform could benefit your business? Can the UI be used by both IT and business teams? Does the platform scale automatically without having to worry about provisioning, fault-tolerance, latency and uptime? Are there guardrails in place, so that business users can use the platform without potentially disrupting integral systems? The more robust a platform is, the more equipped it is to meet your business needs.
3. What types of applications can the platform support?
Besides having to support complex data needs, the platform should also be able to support a variety of applications. With SaaS apps constantly on the rise and improvements to AI, ML and RPA technologies happening everyday, you need a platform that can support or has the ability to create integrations to support any apps you may need – even those without APIs.
When choosing an enterprise integration platform, consider if it can provide automated workflows across your systems like Order to Cash, Employee Onboarding and Offboarding, Service Requests and Approvals and more. Does it let you integrate intelligent technologies like AI and ML that’ll enable solutions like a virtual helpdesk, invoice processing and others? Does it allow you to build bots, creating a rich experience for employees and customers via chat apps, email and more?
As tech is never idle, you want to make sure the platform can handle any apps or workflows that have the potential to disrupt your market or way of working in the future.
4. How long does it take to build integrations?
Integration is ultimately a means to an end. Most companies integrate data to perform analysis, obtain better customer insights, streamline processes, and more.
For such vital tasks, you want to ensure that governance is balanced with speed—not to the point where the development is rushed, but is worthwhile. In the event of a small change in your business workflows, you don’t want to spend hours digging through code to fix it. You should find a platform that is as flexible as you need it to be.
Additionally, most projects require cooperation and buy-in from stakeholders on the business side – a crowd that’s hard to please, especially if an integration project critical to business but will take a year to implement. Can your platform enable quick wins as well as support long-term projects?
5. What is the total cost of ownership?
As you can imagine, choosing an integration software is not a small investment. When selecting a platform, you may see different price ranges, but any option that seems too low compared to other vendors should be questioned.
When considering prices, you should also think about costs you may incur later. These factors should include if you’ll have to hire additional staff to build integrations, the cost of training and the time it’ll take. Will you have to hire skilled developers to manage the platform, or can you entrust it to those with lighter tech backgrounds?
What’s the cost if the platform goes down, especially if it affects customers? How much productivity time will you lose if engineers are pulled from other projects to put out an integration fire?
All of these questions should be considered when making your selection. Though it can be hard to predict problems before implementation and determine how platforms will respond given the circumstances, looking at the total cost of ownership (TCO) should help you weed out the non-starters and give you a sizable group to work with.
Is Workato right for you?
At Workato, both IT/business systems and line-of-business teams (MarketingOps, Sales Ops, Business Analysts) use a single platform to integrate data across applications, automate end-to-end business processes, and get more done in less time. Over 4,300 of the world’s top brands like Slack, Broadcom and Intuit use Workato to automate business-critical processes, helping them maintain leadership status in their field and accelerate digital change within their organizations.
Using a single integration platform overrides the need for IT teams to use a blend of legacy solutions, point-to-point tools and custom hand-coding to connect data, apps and APIs. Business users no longer have to wait weeks for the slightest change in their business processes to go live. Now, with solutions like Workato, your apps, integration and automation processes will work seamlessly, without the need for an advanced coding background to make things work.
“We think that, increasingly, technology wants to be able to provide simple, easy-to-use, and very powerful capabilities that line-of-business people, non-coders can use to build powerful, line-of-business applications and Workato is really a clear leader in no-code integrations.”—Jay Jamison, Chief Product Officer at Quick Base