The Complete Guide to Choosing the Right Integration Platform for Your Growing Business

Integration Platform

An integration platform, or IPaaS, is a cloud service that helps connect different business apps and processes. With many apps available today, companies use many other apps to run their business operations. However, each app stores data separately, making it hard to share important info between apps. This results in manual work like copying-pasting data from one place to another.

IPaaS solves this problem by allowing easy Integration of apps. Some key things an IPaaS does include:

  • Connects apps securely, even if they are from different companies
  • Moves data between apps automatically without manual work
  • Makes sure data reaches the right app without any issues
  • It lets you manage all app connections from one place
  • It comes with pre-built links for popular apps like Salesforce

This guide will examine the challenges of connecting multiple apps to different integration options and how IPaaS addresses these challenges to help businesses work better.

The Changing Application Landscape

These days, there is a new business app launching every week! With so many options available, companies have the power to pick the exact tools they need to get work done. It has truly transformed how businesses operate.

Gone are the days when IT departments controlled every software purchase. Now, any department can find an app to solve their unique challenges. For example, marketing teams now have thousands of apps like Hubspot and Marketo to handle email campaigns. Customer support relies on Zendesk and Salesforce Service Cloud. Even accounting uses Intuit QuickBooks and Xero.

While this freedom to choose apps is great, it has led to a new problem – what Gartner calls “SaaS sprawl.” Take a look:

  • In 2011 – Around 150 major business apps were in use
  • Today – Over 7,000 SaaS apps on the market

With so many options, it’s easy for companies to end up with 20, 30, or even 50 different apps over time!

Integration platform
Integration Platform

The Data Silos Problem

While individual apps are helpful, each stores data separately. So, marketing’s contact lists exist in one app, but sales see deals in another. Inventory is siloed from orders. It makes it difficult to get a full view of the business.

It also means critical info needs to be automatically updated across apps. Salespeople find out too late that a product is out of stock. Customers get delayed responses due to manual data entry.

To share updates, many companies rely on spreadsheets or copying-pasting. How error-prone! Valuable time is spent on repetitive, manual work that offers little value.

The Challenge of Complex Workflows

Many key business processes, like order fulfillment, involve multiple teams and apps. To handle this, companies develop point-to-point integrations between specific apps. But with thousands available, this is nearly impossible for every connection.

Custom coding integrations are another option but require technical skills many companies need to gain. Integrations also need ongoing maintenance as business needs change.

The result is disjointed systems where the right information isn’t accessible at the right time. Process efficiency suffers and it’s hard for any business to keep up with growing customer demands. A new approach was needed to tie everything together.

Common Integration Strategies of the Past

As businesses accumulated more apps, the need for Integration became clear. Companies experimented with various tactics to connect disparate applications. Let’s take a look at some common strategies used in the past.

Native App Integrations

Most apps offer pre-built connections to popular counterparts. For example, Salesforce can integrate with Microsoft Outlook. These native integrations are convenient since no extra work is required.

However, they only support standard use cases. Unique business processes should be noticed. Updates also rely on vendors prioritizing your integration needs.

Point-to-Point Connectors

To handle custom connections, companies turned to third-party point solutions. These offered Integration between two specific programs, Marketo and NetSuite.

While point connectors filled a need, maintaining countless one-to-one integrations could have been more challenging. Plus, they should have shared data across the larger ecosystem of business apps.

Custom Coding Integrations

For complex workflows, developers coded custom APIs and scripts to move data. It allowed full flexibility but took serious technical expertise and resources.

Maintenance was also difficult. Every change required locating and updating various integration points. Bugs slowed business operations until fixes were launched.

The Patchwork Approach

Most companies stitched together a patchwork of the above methods. While efforts brought some apps together, the approach fell short for dynamic enterprises.

As business needs changed constantly, existing integrations broke down. Keeping everything synchronized became a full-time job. Technical teams spent less time on innovation and more on integration plumbing.

Clearly, these early strategies could not scale with the hundreds of applications used across departments today. A new standardized and centralized approach was desperately needed.

A New Approach is Needed

While previous integration methods served their purpose, they have yet to succeed in the modern business landscape. Silos persisted between applications as data and processes remained fragmented.

Technical teams found themselves acting as integration managers rather than focusing on more strategic work. Customers also needed more consistent experiences due to the need for a unified view.

It was clear organizations required an alternative approach purpose-built for the dynamic, cloud-driven world of work. One that could overcome the challenges inherent to older strategies.

Scalability Concerns: Manually coding and upkeeping countless custom integrations is labor-intensive and prone to errors. This patchwork method fails to scale as both apps and integration points multiply rapidly over time.

Inflexibility Hinders Agility: When business needs change, the rigidity of isolated integrations makes adaptation difficult. Native app connectors restrict configurations to vendor-defined scopes.

High Cost of Maintenance: Each integration modification demands developer time and testing – a lengthy process as systems grow increasingly complex. It hinders the speed essential in today’s fast-paced markets.

The Solution: Integration Platform as a Service

These issues can be resolved by centralizing integration tasks on a unified platform called iPaaS; Integration Platform as a Service handles connectivity requirements for entire organizations.

Some key advantages of adopting an iPaaS include:

  • Standardizing previously disparate integration components
  • Automating routine integration processes through visual workflows
  • Leveraging reusable integration assets to streamline development
  • Centrally governing integrations for consistency across apps
  • Scaling integration infrastructure on demand through cloud delivery

By embracing such an approach, enterprises can focus less on integration plumbing and more on strategic concerns that move the business forward.

Key Features of an iPaaS

An iPaaS handles integration tasks through a unified platform and set of features. Let’s explore some common elements that help solve issues faced with past methods.

Pre-Built Connectors: Leading iPaaS products offer out-of-the-box connectors for popular apps. These pre-built integrations automate common workflows for apps like Salesforce, SAP, and Oracle without coding. For example, a connector may sync new leads between Salesforce and Marketo. Users select apps from a gallery rather than building interfaces from scratch.

Visual Workflow Designer: An intuitive graphical interface allows technical and nontechnical users to design Integration flows visually. Simple drag-and-drop functionality streamlines processes like order data migration between ERP and WMS.

Reusable Integration Components: Standard components for common tasks like file transfer, data transformation, and API invocation can be reused. It avoids duplicating code and speeds integration development significantly.

Centralized Monitoring: A unified console provides end-to-end visibility into integration performance, usage, and errors. Admins gain insights to optimize processes based on analytics of past runs. Issues are also easy to troubleshoot.

Scalable Infrastructure: Cloud-hosted iPaaS ensures integration capacity scales on demand. Enterprises need not provision additional servers during busy seasons or workload spikes. Resources auto-adjust cost-effectively.

Enterprise-Grade Reliability: Features like transaction management, error handling, and rollback capabilities ensure data integrity even during failures. Business workflows maintain the dependability expected of mission-critical systems.

These core features address the limitations of earlier strategies by industrializing integration development, execution, and governance on an elastic platform.

Use Cases for iPaaS

An iPaaS supports a variety of recurring use cases that are critical to business operations. Let’s explore some examples of how organizations leverage the platform.

Order to Cash

This important process integrates sales, billing, fulfillment and accounting apps to manage revenue generation. Without proper integration, order data has to be manually re-entered at each step, slowing fulfillment and increasing the chance of errors. An iPaaS streamlines the order data migration between these systems. It automatically captures order details upon placement and shares them with downstream apps in real-time to optimize cash collection. Customers receive timely shipping updates and invoices for a superior experience. The automated process also eliminates redundant data entry tasks for employees, freeing them to focus on more strategic work.

Procure to Pay

By connecting purchasing, invoicing and payment processing apps, an iPaaS automates vendor management from order placement to settlement. Purchase orders raised in procurement systems are automatically sent to suppliers. Upon delivery, invoice details from suppliers seamlessly flow into accounts payable for processing. The iPaaS ensures payments are issued on time based on agreed terms. This unified procure-to-pay process provides finance teams full visibility into spending. It helps curb maverick and unplanned purchases, thereby gaining better control over expenses.

Customer 360 View

An iPaaS integrating CRM, marketing, support and commerce systems unifies customer profiles generated across these touchpoints. This presents agents a single, holistic view of each customer and their interactions with the organization. Call center executives can quickly address customer needs based on past purchases, issues faced, campaign responses and more. Cross-selling and upselling also become easier by leveraging a comprehensive understanding of customer preferences and buying patterns. The 360-degree insights let businesses deliver personalized, frictionless experiences that boost satisfaction and loyalty.

Choosing the Right iPaaS for Your Business

With various iPaaS vendors to choose from, evaluating options carefully is important. Considerations vary based on company size and integration needs.

Startup vs Enterprise: Startups prioritize ease of use and quick deployment over enterprise-grade features. Look for free/low-cost tiers. Meanwhile, large firms demand high-volume handling and customization.

Cloud vs. On-Premise: Cloud iPaaS ensures fast setup without infrastructure costs—on-premise suits stringent data governance. A hybrid approach balances control and convenience.

Pricing Models: Per-integration pricing works best for infrequent projects—subscription tiers by data/user volume suit predictable, steady usage. One-time licensing protects long-term costs.

App Ecosystem: Check for pre-built connectors to core apps like SAP, Oracle, and homegrown systems. Consider a partner marketplace for bespoke connectors.

Developer Experience: Evaluate platform usability for professional coders and integration citizen-developers—robust SDKs and APIs future-proof customizations.

Support Commitment: Enterprise-grade SLA terms and 24/7 support give mission-critical peace of mind. For others, community forums and standard support fit.

Integration Styles: Some iPaaS specialize in data/API integration, others in workflow/process integration, or both. Match strengths to your integration types.

Doing thorough product evaluations then helps find the right iPaaS cultural fit. Integrations proceed seamlessly while focusing on core competencies.

The Future of Integration

Integration platform
Integration Platform

The iPaaS industry continues to evolve rapidly to address the dynamic needs of digital businesses. Here are some key trends shaping the next generation of Integration.

iPaaS becomes Integration as a Service (IaaS): Vendors are refining platforms into full-fledged integration services. Pre-built connectors, reusable components, and managed integration pipelines as cloud services minimize manual efforts.

Democratization of Integration: Low-code/no-code interfaces empower nontechnical and occasional users to build integrations through simple drag-and-drop. Citizen integrators drive departmental agility.

API-First Integration: As microservices architecture grows, event-driven APIs connect applications instead of traditional batch integration. Real-time data flows improve reactivity.

Self-Healing Integrations: Advanced monitoring leverages AIOps to proactively detect and resolve issues autonomously—integration reliability scales with business complexity.

Composable Integration Apps: Reusable integration components assemble through workflows into customizable industry solutions—these speed deployments for common scenarios like customer onboarding.

Integration Mesh: Distributed architectures spanning edge, cloud, and on-premise orchestrate microservices through a central nervous system. Integration becomes intrinsic to applications.

As digital strategies evolve, so do integration strategies. Tomorrow’s platforms will weave formerly separate systems into cohesive experiences through frictionless, self-managing connectivity. Those embracing this vision gain competitive agility.

Taking the Next Step

If you found this guide on integration platform as a service (iPaaS) helpful, ZZ Servers can help you evaluate the right solution for your unique business needs. As an IT services provider with over 17 years of experience, we understand the importance of seamless Integration in today’s digital landscape. Our team of experts can assess your current systems, integration challenges, and future roadmap. We will then recommend optimal iPaaS options and help with implementation. Whether you need to modernize legacy assets or optimize core workflows, ZZ Servers is ready to be your trusted integration partner. Call us at 800-796-3574 to discuss how an iPaaS can accelerate your digital transformation.


IPaaS helps connect different apps and automates critical workflows to streamline operations. Features like pre-built connectors, visual designers, and reusable components simplify integration development and management. Use cases involving order management, customer data, procurement, and more demonstrate how IPaaS optimizes key business processes.

Choosing the right iPaaS solution depends on company size, integration needs, pricing models, and supported applications. The future of Integration focuses on low-code/no-code tools, API-driven architectures, self-managing integrations, and industry-specific integration apps. Adopting an IPaaS is essential for enterprises seeking to break data silos, gain process visibility and accelerate their digital transformations through unified, scalable connectivity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a native integration and iPaaS?

Native integrations are direct connections between two apps built by vendors. While convenient, they offer limited configuration and break when needs change. iPaaS provides a centralized platform to visually design and manage integrations across any combination of applications or data sources through an intuitive interface. It ensures connectivity scales dynamically with business growth.

How much does an iPaaS typically cost?

iPaaS pricing varies by vendor and deployment size. Many offer free tiers for developers and per-integration pricing suitable for SMBs. Larger enterprises typically select tiered subscription models based on data volumes, users, or integrations. Some provide one-time licensing for unlimited on-premise usage. IPaaS delivers significant development and maintenance cost savings compared to custom coding integrations.

Can non-technical users build integrations with iPaaS?

Absolutely. Leading iPaaS platforms are specifically designed to empower “citizen integrators” through low-code/no-code visual workflows. Nontechnical personnel can assemble integrations independently by simply dragging and dropping pre-built components. It accelerates departmental agility and collaboration across divisions.

What key factors should I consider when choosing an iPaaS?

Key factors include company size, integration needs, pricing models, supported applications, developer experience, and vendor support. Equally important is assessing cultural fit, ecosystem breadth, scalability, security, and migration complexity support. A thorough evaluation helps select the right long-term iPaaS partner for your integration requirements.

How can iPaaS help accelerate our digital transformation?

iPaaS accelerates digital transformation by breaking down data silos, streamlining core processes, and providing actionable insights. It connects legacy systems to new applications while preserving investments. It allows enterprises to innovate faster on customer experiences and re-architect monoliths into modern microservices architectures. IPaaS is essential for enterprises seeking to derive true value from technology investments.

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