If you look around the market today, you will find that on an average, a company uses 200+ applications, and each department within a company uses 40-60 tools. As the number of applications used as well as the volume of data generated by each increases, companies are seeking a simplified and streamlined mechanism to connect the various applications and facilitate smooth exchange of data between them.
Thus, came the demand for product integrations to easily connect different applications and ensure seamless communication between them. Invariably, as the number of applications kept increasing, the onus of incorporating and supporting integrations fell on SaaS businesses, providing the applications to customers. Today, offering or supporting integrations is not just an added feature but can act as a competitive advantage for SaaS businesses.
As the SaaS integration market continues to grow, businesses are exploring various ways in which they can offer integrations to their customers to support better service and retention. However, as the SaaS integration landscape is changing, with an evolution from traditional integration to the rise of APIs and iPaaS, there are several questions businesses and customers have about integrations. Thus, our latest paper of State of SaaS Integration will focus on decoding the SaaS landscape, how it has been changing over the past few years and the roadmap for the future with embedded iPaaS.
What to look out for in the whitepaper
This paper on the State of SaaS Integration will help you understand the various facets of SaaS integrations and how it has been changing to adapt to the dynamic business needs in the market. It will focus on the following themes:
- SaaS integration: meaning and importance
- Overview of the traditional SaaS integration landscape
- Evolution of SaaS integration
- Rise of the Unified API
- 5 year SaaS integration market forecast
- Types and trends in SaaS integration
- Future of integrations with Unified API
Overall, this whitepaper will give you a comprehensive view about what to expect from the SaaS integration ecosystem, the trends to look out for and ways to leverage the advancements with iPaaS and embedded iPaaS to make product integration seamless and sustainable at scale.
Who is it for?
Covering the diverse aspects of the SaaS integration landscape, this paper will serve as a comprehensive read for founders, executives, CTOs and leaders of SaaS startups and growing businesses. It is ideal for SaaS leaders who wish to understand the integration landscape and identify the best solutions to offer product integration functionalities for their customers without investing additional engineering efforts or time and cost intensive resources.
If you are a SaaS leader, this paper will help you make an informed choice about selecting the right integration methodology or model to adopt. Additionally, it will help you gain knowledge about the different SaaS integrations that your customers might request for and how you can prepare for them in advance to gain a competitive edge.
Why should you read this whitepaper?
This whitepaper is an all-encompassing guide if you seek to understand the SaaS integration market and how product integrations are likely to evolve in the coming years. It will help you gauge the latest integration trends and learn how you can ride the wave for better customer experience and new revenue streams without stretching your engineering teams.
It will enable you to understand how you can offer native product integrations to your customers with no/low-code functionalities as the integration market is moving from traditional to iPaaS integration models. Furthermore, you can capture how the increase in number of applications used by different companies creates a new market you can capture by offering streamlined integrations with your SaaS product.
The paper will also illustrate how the SaaS integration market is changing and the top integrations and use cases that companies are increasingly adopting. Overall, the paper will help you understand how to augment growth for your SaaS business with embedded iPaaS.
What is SaaS integration?
Let’s start with a basic understanding of the SaaS integration ecosystem before we delve into the specifics. SaaS is essentially a software delivery mechanism where companies are able to use or access a particular software online, instead of its installation on a particular piece of hardware. Consequently, there might be several software or applications that a company uses to undertake its activities. While some of these might be other cloud based applications, some can even be on-premise. However, SaaS integration focuses on how to seamlessly connect the various applications that a company uses.
There might be multiple reasons why companies prefer SaaS integrations. Right from facilitating data exchange between applications, to integrating workflows, to automating processes, SaaS integrations help companies facilitate greater efficiency and productivity. Research shows that companies estimate that 70% of apps they use are SaaS-based, which will increase to 85% by 2025. As the number of SaaS applications under use by companies is increasing, the need for integrations to help these applications is also on the rise. While initially integrations were managed in-house by businesses, slowly, third party integrations platforms became the norm that companies started adopting. However, now the onus has come on SaaS businesses to pre-configure the requisite integrations that a company might need to ensure seamless connection, communication and exchange between applications in their native form.
This broadly captures the evolution of SaaS integration and why it plays an important role for SaaS businesses today. The following sections will delve into detail how businesses have traditionally managed integrations, the changes that have been observed in the recent years and how embedded iPaaS has seen a growth in adoption and demand to facilitate native integration for SaaS applications.
Traditional SaaS integration landscape
In this section, we will focus on how companies have been traditionally integrating SaaS applications to facilitate greater communication and exchange. Over the years, as integrations increased in volume and scope, businesses have moved away from most of the traditional approaches to more robust and effective practices. While today integration between applications has become multi-way, earlier it was relatively simple with easy to understand use cases, including:
- HRMS and payroll integration to ensure that employee days off and other details are taken into consideration while creating payslips, compensation, benefits, etc.
- CRM and email integration to automate customer communication based on specific account linked milestones at a regular frequency
- CRM and web analytics integration for personalized communication and better lead generation
With these use cases in mind, let’s look at some of the ways in which companies traditionally achieved integrations, specifically around the preferences and methodology.
1. API based integration
Almost all SaaS applications that hit the market come with APIs or Application Programming Interfaces that are open for third parties to connect with their products. While this helps the SaaS business significantly by ensuring that the burden of integrations is borne by the end customer or other third parties like MSPs, etc., however, the quality of integrations become vulnerable to quality compromise.
At the same time, every time the SaaS vendor updates the API, customers need to update the same to keep pace with any changes. At the same time, not all APIs are compatible with different types of applications, which makes the integration process complicated.
2. SOA based integration
The next way followed for traditional integration is SOA or service oriented architecture. Essentially, SOA makes software components reusable and interoperable via service interfaces, which follow an architectural plan that can quickly be incorporated into new systems or applications. However, the implementation of SOA based integration is highly time consuming and cost intensive with excessive training and maintenance costs and the need to hire SaaS application specific SOA specialists.
3. Custom integration development
The next way to support integrations was for SaaS businesses to build custom native integrations for their customers from scratch. On the face of it, this seemed to be very effective where each integration could be offered natively within the SaaS application for customers to use. Such SaaS companies generally built point-to-point integration for each third party application that they sought to integrate.
Undoubtedly, this resulted in superior quality integrations, high levels of security and a pleasant customer experience where the product quality control remained with the SaaS vendor. However, as the scale of integration demand by customers increased, custom building of native integrations from scratch started becoming unsustainable. Most SaaS businesses felt that this required diversion of engineering efforts from core product development.
While developing integrations was one part, maintaining and constantly improving it served as another cost and time intensive activity. Invariably, engineering teams were conflicted in prioritizing product versus integration improvements. This traditional form of integration is good when the scale is lower, but becomes too unwieldy as the number of integrations increases. With each integration being custom built takes 2 weeks to 3 months, the average cost stands at USD 10K, illustrating the cost intensive nature of custom integrations.
Another integration methodology used traditionally is leveraging middleware. Primarily, middleware is a software system that helps companies integrate or link two separate applications. It is also used by businesses as a unified interface for ease of development. It can help businesses connect and integrate applications using different protocols or technologies, managing data exchange, transformation, security, etc.
However, like other traditional integration methodologies, middleware may also require additional engineering expertise and resources to ensure smooth functioning. Integration middleware has limited capabilities when it comes to cloud-to-cloud integration. At the same time, the flexibility for data source access is limited and it fails to deliver an efficient queuing capability.
New integration technologies
The last few years have seen a rapid increase in the number of integrations an average business uses. Some of the top SaaS companies use 2000+ integrations, while on an average businesses use 350 integrations to support their customer requirements and facilitate better business results. With such an exponential increase in the scale of integrations being used, leveraging traditional integration methodologies became unsustainable and unfeasible for both SaaS vendors and their customers.
On one hand, most of the traditional ways or preferences of integration were highly time consuming and cost intensive which made maintaining them at scale highly uneconomical, with a negative impact on the ROI that was initially envisioned. On the other hand, developing and maintaining integrations traditionally required exceptional talent and engineering expertise in house. Engineering teams focusing on increasing integrations led to a diversion of focus from core product functionalities to integration development and maintenance.
Therefore, companies today are looking for integration methodologies and preferences which are low/ no code and require very little engineering expertise, which are resource-lite and easy to implement and which can provide a native application experience.
Let’s look at some of the new integration technologies that are increasingly being adopted by SaaS companies:
1. Integration platforms
With major challenges of requirements of in-house resources to manage integrations traditionally, companies and SaaS vendors started moving towards integration platforms or tools to build and publish integrations. These platforms brought a disruption in the space by offering connectivity to numerous SaaS applications where SaaS businesses could simply publish their application and instantly get access to diverse integrations.
The next integration technology that is seeing rapid adoption is iPaaS or integration platform as a service. iPaaS comes with pre-built connectors, rules and maps that help businesses seamlessly integrate the different applications they are using. iPaaS typically hosts the infrastructure data for integration along with the tools and to build and manage integrations, from within the cloud. It helps businesses easily integrate SaaS/ cloud based and on-premise applications along with a provision to create custom connectors in case the use cases extend beyond the market trends.
It is able to manage high volumes of data coming in from a large number of integrations, handle complexities of integrations to facilitate data exchange, workflow automation and much more. iPaaS comes in the form of an out-of-box tool which can quickly be built into integration workflows with little or no technical expertise. Supporting real-time data exchange, iPaaS enables companies to almost instantly connect their applications, business processes, data, users, etc. to ensure better performance and output. Better connectivity, lower costs and seamless scalability to add more integrations as business grows, are some of top reasons why companies are leveraging iPaaS technology for integration. The iPaaS market is expected to grow exponentially and generate $9 billion in revenue by 2025, illustrating its adoption scale in the coming years.
3. Embedded iPaaS
The recent time has seen the rise of a new form or evolution in iPaaS itself, with embedded iPaaS. While iPaaS conventionally is deployed by businesses using different SaaS solutions and integrations, embedded iPaaS is built directly into the software or SaaS solution. Here, the onus of ensuring seamless integrations lies with the SaaS vendor. Essentially, embedded iPaaS allows B2B SaaS companies to embed integrations into their product as a white-labeled solution.
Like conventional iPaaS, embedded iPaaS also comes with pre-built connectors where companies can maintain their own UI/UX. Interestingly, since the integrations are pre built as a white-labeled offering, they provide a native experience and can be customized as per the requirement of the SaaS product.
Evolution of SaaS integrations
From building integrations in-house to deploying embedded iPaaS, SaaS companies have come a long way in their integration journey. There are several factors behind this evolution, ranging from a shift in mindset to changing business and financial priorities.
Overall, there has been a mindset shift away from using custom integrations built in-house on relying on platforms that may not give a native integration experience. Some of the top reasons governing this shift include:
- 70% of digital transformation projects fail due to lack of integration quality
- 45% digital leaders believe poor integration is the second main barrier to the effective application of digital technology
- $250,000 to $500,000 is the average cost to a business due to poor integrations
Thus, SaaS companies wish to get a native integration experience without putting burden on the internal team’s engineering bandwidth, where the cost of development of each integration can run into 1000s of dollars. Furthermore, SaaS companies have realized that different platforms that need to be integrated can have different models and protocols for data, or the way in which they store and share data. Traditional APIs don’t take this into consideration. Therefore, even the presence of APIs is not of much help.
Another mindset shift has been observed regarding the maintenance of integrations in-house. Managing integrations requires the ability to constantly monitor and track as well as instantly resolve integration issues. When integrations are limited, this is possible, however, with scale in volume, SaaS businesses are finding this task difficult and unwieldy.
Rise of the Unified API
The evolution of SaaS integration has led to an increased importance towards API or application performance interface. As mentioned above, APIs act as a messenger to help organizations facilitate interaction between data, applications and systems, in other words, help SaaS integration. Increasingly, businesses are seeing APIs as a way of focusing more on product differentiation and less on building integration capabilities in-house. While APIs have been around for long, they themselves have undergone evolution to give rise to an API economy. This has led to what we now call API first products and greater importance towards unified API. Let’s first understand what exactly a unified API is.
Decoding unified API
Essentially, each SaaS product comes with its unique API, an end point which enables users to integrate the application with other applications and systems. For a long time, businesses have been dealing with each API separately, however, the data models, nuances and protocols for each can be different, making it difficult for businesses to leverage the end points for integrating them with other applications. SaaS application APIs can come in the form of REST, Webhooks, GraphHQL, etc. Thus, APIs add a layer of abstraction that allows applications to communicate and integrate with one another. With immense potential, APIs have seen tremendous growth, where over 90% of developers use APIs. Furthermore, 69% work with third party APIs - highlighting that a significant percentage of developers work on integrating external products and services into their own.
While extremely useful, differences in APIs can make it extremely hard at times for developers to research them and streamline integrations. Research shows that developers spend 30% of their time coding APIs. Thus, developers have seen the rise of a new breed, called Unified or Universal APIs. Put simply, Unified API combines the APIs from different SaaS applications in the form of an additional abstraction layer to help integrate all applications with a single API which gives business access to all endpoints. This significantly reduces the engineering efforts as companies only have to facilitate integration once and not research and integrate with each API endpoint separately. Invariably, as more applications open up their end points, a unified API becomes even more important to aggregate integrations strategically.
Let’s take a small example here. For instance, a business wants to integrate its CRM and HRMS, however, the data models for each are different. A unified API will aggregate and normalize the APIs into a common data model which the company can use to integrate all applications, without having to hard code integrations with each API end point. The company no longer has to understand different APIs and can streamline integrations with a one time effort.
Benefits of unified API
There are several benefits that unified API bring along for SaaS companies that are rapidly increasing their integration volume, including:
- Faster time to market as developers don’t have to research and build on API end point for every new application that is added. This can save up to 3-6 months of development and engineering time.
- Reduced cost as building each integration in-house can cost an average of USD 10K, a cost which is largely borne by a unified API provider. It also reduces the developer effort to research on different API and integrations.
- Reduced need for data storage as managing integrations in-house with different APIs requires storage management for placing data that is exchanged between systems. Unified APIs take that friction out as well.
- Normalization of data into a single data model which is easy to understand. Since different SaaS applications can have different authentication, schemas and protocols, unified API ensures that ultimately the company stakeholders have to remember a single data model or schema.
By bringing integrations to a single end point, a unified API is truly revolutionizing the way applications integrate with one another, paving the way for seamless and streamlined communication and exchange of data between them.
5 year SaaS integration market forecast
As evident, the SaaS integration market has undergone significant change in the last few years. However, as businesses continue to increase the number of applications they are using, the market can only be expected to expand further. From a bird’s eye view, the overall market size is expected to rapidly increase, attracting more investments than ever before. On the one hand, businesses can be expected to adopt more and more cloud based SaaS applications to augment performance and achieve growth. On the other hand, the need to integrate data between different applications will continue to grow. Thus, for the next half a decade, the SaaS integration market is likely to boom.
SaaS integration market
Let’s start by looking at the figures defining market growth in the next few years. According to research by MarketsandMarkets, the SaaS integration market is projected to grow from $4.4 billion in 2020 to $11.4 billion by 2025. This reflects a CAGR of 21.1% during the forecast period, clearly indicating enormous scope and potential for SaaS integrations.
This rapid growth in the SaaS integration market can be seen as a result of the exploding growth that the overall SaaS market is expected to see. For instance, the SaaS market is growing at 6.5x as fast as the world economy. Consequently, 70% of CIOs are attracted to cloud-based SaaS for scalability and agility, as stated in a report by Deloitte.
Increasing investments towards SaaS integrations
This expanding SaaS integration market size is a clear reflection of the business sentiment towards greater adoption of integrations and the benefits that these integrations bring along. Let’s look at how the industry trend towards SaaS integrations is changing.
80% of businesses have at least one SaaS application integrated with their on-premises systems, says a report by IDG. Furthermore, the same study noted that 67% of the organizations are using more SaaS applications than they were a year ago. This suggests that investments in SaaS applications and, consequently, in SaaS integrations will continue to increase.
At the same time, a Gartner prediction states that organizations that use SaaS integration platforms will be able to integrate twice as many SaaS applications as those that use custom-coded integration by 2023. Therefore, not only is the need for integrations on the rise, there is a definitive shift away from custom integration to relying on third party solutions like Unified API , iPaaS or embedded iPaaS.
API market growth
As focus on integration platforms increases, it is interesting to look at the growth expected for the API market. Keeping pace with SaaS integration, the API economy or the API market is also showing a positive trend in growth. Research shows that 90.5% of developers expect their API usage to remain about the same or increase. Furthermore, 27.7% more developers are creating partner-facing APIs, indicating that more integrations will govern SaaS business growth in the next few years.
At the same time, API management can be expected to see a boost, reflecting how Unified API which takes care of end-to-end API management for SaaS integration will also see a growth. Research shows that over 50% of large companies have 100 APIs or more, and maintenance of this expanding API library is expected to get cumbersome. Consequently, according to MarketsandMarkets, the API management market is projected to be worth $5.1 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 32.9%. Furthermore, where 98% of large enterprises consider APIs an essential part of their digital transformation strategy, 64% are early, and are developing their API program or strategy. 99% of enterprise leaders agree it is important to adopt a centralized solution for APIs to build, manage, publish, and consume APIs. Invariably, adoption of unified API is a prudent way for such organizations to leverage the API route for integrations.
Types of SaaS integrations and trends
As we move ahead in our discussion on SaaS integrations, it is important to understand the types of integrations that businesses have and which are often considered integral for growth. While there might be several products that a business might use, there are specific segments which are likely to have more than one product that a business uses to achieve its goals. Below, we have captured 4 types of SaaS integrations that are predominantly used by B2B and B2C companies.
The first major integration segment that requires attention is HRMS or human resource management system. There are several software that any HR team within a company uses to manage its people operations. Right from application tracking and onboarding to exit interviews and final paperwork, there are several steps in the HR lifecycle that companies you SaaS applications for. Some of the HRMS integrations that companies need include:
- ATS software to manage job posting, candidate interview management, and other steps of the hiring process
- Attendance software to keep a track of the attendance and days off for employees as well as to tracking working hours
- Payroll management to create salary slips for employees and adjust increments, bonuses or deductions based on different parameters
These and other software form a part of the overall HRMS that businesses use. However, integration within them is extremely critical. For instance, payroll software will need to be integrated with attendance to ensure accurate creation of salary slips. Similarly, ATS must be integrated with others to ensure that data of newly on boarded employees is captured.
However, each software can have its own syntax and schema, like emp_id versus employee ID, making data exchange difficult unless the APIs can be synched. Therefore, a universal or unified API can ensure that the stakeholder only has to understand one data model or schema, making communication between these extremely easy.
CRM or customer relationship management software are used by businesses to keep a track of and service/ engage potential and existing customers to keep the business going. Irrespective of whether you are targeting a product on marketing or operations, CRM integration will be instrumental for a good customer experience. However, as there are multiple touchpoints of customer experience, there are several CRM that any business is likely to use in a complementary manner. The top CRM APIs that are available today for integrations include:
- Sales CRM which streamline the entire sales journey for a customer right from pitching to conversion. E.g. Salesforce or Freshworks
- Marketing CRM which takes care of all communication and marketing that takes place and manages campaigns that a company runs. E.g. Hubspot or Mailchimp
- Customer success CRM which focuses on ensuring that customer queries, grievances and other requests are addressed seamlessly. E.g. Zendesk
CRM integration essentially involves ensuring that data and other information is able to move smoothly between the different types of CRM that a company uses along with other applications.
For instance, customer information and trends from marketing CRM and insights from sales CRM can be integrated and used by platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to personalize content or advertisements.
However, since the terminology, nuances and data models for each of these CRM can vary significantly, especially because most fields in any CRM are customizable, the APIs might not be easily compatible with one another. A unified CRM API can help businesses integrate the different APIs they need seamlessly with an end point which internally provides access to all the end points. Fortunately, the company needs to remember only one data model and schema.
When it comes to e-commerce, a business has three major end points it might need to integrate with. While e-commerce platforms and marketplaces are the primary ones, accounting and payment processors need to be integrated as well for smooth functioning. Thus, for e-commerce integration, the following need to be taken into account:
- E-commerce data from platforms like Shopify, Amazon or any other marketplace that might be under use. This data generally comes in the form of orders, inventory, customer insights, etc.
- Accounting data which generally comes from accounting software like Quickbooks, focusing on invoices, balance sheets, budgets, etc.
- Payments data from third party payment platforms which focus on how much payment has been made, transaction amounts, balances, etc.
E-commerce integrations are integral for any company that uses data from e-commerce platforms. They can build integrations with the different end points for the critical data required and ensure smooth business transactions.
For instance, FinTech companies can take data from e-commerce platforms to understand customer behavior and thus, tailor their solutions which align well with payment limits and appetite for their customers.
Within accounting, like other segments we have discussed, there are several facets at play. Different accounting software can have diverse objectives and goals that they help a business achieve. As a SaaS business provider, your customers are likely to use different accounting software for different purposes and it is important to ensure that you are able to provide integrations for all. Some of the top accounting integrations need can come in the form of:
- Recording purchases and expenses using software like Quickbooks, which ensure automated inputs
- Billing platforms to automate creation of bills and presentation of accurate invoices to customers by taking into account all important billing parameters
- Managing internal finances to keep a track of the spending appetite of the company and ensure alignment with the budget
Accounting integration will help you ensure that you are able to address the accounting and finance software needs of your customer by integrating key accounting software that your customers and prospects use with your core offering.
SaaS integrations: Use cases and best practices
So far, we have talked about the evolution of SaaS integrations and the types of integrations that businesses are using. Let’s now look at some of the real life examples and use cases of SaaS integrations, business sentiment on the future of SaaS integrations and preferences for businesses to find the right one.
While almost every SaaS business uses different integrations, here are a few examples that have been using integrations for success:
With over 2400 SaaS integrations, Slack is one of the top examples of companies leveraging the power of integrations. It offers integrations in the space of communication, analytics, HR, marketing, office management, finance, productivity, etc. which it offers to its customers to use so they do not have to leave Slack to use any other application they may need. Customers can leverage zero context switching and ensure seamless data exchange.Slack has 10 million daily users and 43% of Fortune 100 businesses pay to use Slack, and a lot of credit for this growth goes to early integration inroads.
Atlassian offers 2000+ integrations across CRM, productivity tools, project management and much more. It offers APIs to enable teams to connect with third party applications as well as customize workflow. Atlassian’s annual revenue for 2022 was $2.803B, a 34.16% increase from 2021, with integrations playing a major role.
With 5800+ integrations, Shopify is another example of how a business is growing with SaaS integrations. It offers varied integrations across marketing and SEO, mobile app support with custom website templates and analytics.
Will integrations continue to grow?
Will integrations continue to grow is a pertinent question among businesses which are weighing the benefits and costs of investing in integration platforms, unified APIs, etc. Invariably, the answer is yes. The rationale is very simple. Research shows that SaaS businesses are bound to see exponential growth in the coming years.
- SaaS market size is expected to hit $716.52 billion by 2028
- Businesses that use an average of 212 SaaS apps are 93% powered on SaaS software
- The overall spend per company on SaaS products is up by 50%
- 30.4% of respondents claimed to spend more on SaaS due to the pandemic
These data points clearly indicate that the SaaS market will continue to grow at an accelerated pace for the next half a decade at least. As the SaaS market and businesses grow, it is natural to expect that the number of applications that any business will use will also see a rapid upward curve. Industry sentiment illustrates that
- SaaS applications make up 70% of total company software use
- By 2024, the cloud application market value will reach $168.6 billion
- By 2025, 85% of business apps will be SaaS-based
Thus, as the adoption of SaaS applications will increase, businesses are likely to see growth in integrations to ensure centralized management of the diverse applications they use. With integrations, synchronization and exchange of data between the various applications can become unwieldy and difficult to manage. By 2026, 50% of organizations using multiple SaaS applications will centralize management, according to a study. Integrations will play a major role in scalability and agility for any business as stated above, according to a study by Deloitte. Therefore, a large portfolio of integrations with centralized management, for instance, with a unified API will be a key enabler in business growth in the years to come.
Selecting the right integration partner
Now that it is well established that integrations are here to stay and businesses will require additional support to facilitate their deployment and maintenance, it is important to understand the best practices to select the right integration partner. While there are several aspects to be kept in mind some of the top ones include:
To facilitate seamless integration, you must ensure that the integration platform you choose comes with sufficient pre-built connectors and out-of-the-box functionalities. This will help you integrate common applications that you need. However, you will also need some custom connectors in the form of specific webhooks or APIs to facilitate customer connectivity. In addition, since the focus is on volume and scale, the option for bulk data processing and data mapping is very important.
When it comes to an integration platform, security is of paramount importance. As a platform which is helping you exchange critical and sensitive data from one application to another, it is important that the security posture of the platform is robust and resilient. Security measures like risk based security, data encryption at rest/ in transit, least privilege security, continuous logging and access controls, etc. must be present to ensure that your business is not vulnerable to any security threats or data breaches.
One of the major reasons for introducing an integration platform for your SaaS business is to be able to manage data exchange between a vast portfolio of applications that you might be using. Chances are that you will keep adding a few applications to the ecosystem every week and your integration platform must be able to manage the scale of integrations that come along. On the one hand, there will be a scale in the number of applications and the complexities associated with it. On the other hand, there will also be an increase in the data that flows through it, which comes with its own protocols, data models, nuances, which need to be normalized and shared across applications. Thus, the platform must ensure that it is able to maintain the speed of integration without hampering the quality or continuity for your business.
The end points for each application will be varied, and so will be the protocols. For instance, protocols could include HTTP, FTP, and SFTP, and there can be different data formats, such as XML, CSV, and JSON. At the same time, if you are leveraging API based integration, there can be diverse formats including REST, SOAP, GraphQL, etc. Thus, it is very important that your integration platform offers a wide coverage to incorporate the different types of protocols, data models and APIs that you are using or are likely to use.
Finally, pricing will be a major deciding factor when it comes selecting your integration partner. You need to make sure that the cost of the integration platform doesn’t exceed what you might be spending in creating and maintaining integrations in-house. Take into account the developers time and cost that you might spend in development and maintenance of integrations and subset it against the integration platform cost. This way you will be able to gauge the ROI of the platform.
Unified API: Future of SaaS integrations
As we draw this discussion to a close, it is evident that SaaS integrations are here to stay and businesses need to identify the right way or approach with which they can ensure seamless integrations and data exchange between different applications. While there are multiple models or approaches that can be adopted including, iPaaS, embedded iPaaS, one approach that stands out today is Unified API.
As the data connections across businesses increase, a unified API can help aggregate all of them for seamless connectivity. A unified API will help you add integrations without any effort or friction. While faster time to market, reduced costs, greater operational efficiencies are some of the top reasons for the growth of Unified API, there are some other benefits as well. For instance, a unified API brings along higher coverage with options to integrate applications with a diverse set of APIs including REST, SOAP, GraphQL, etc. At the same time, since it enables your customers to integrate faster with their other solutions, making their business easy, you can charge a premium for some services, giving you a new monetization model for increased revenue.
Finally, a unified API ensures consistency for the overall integration ecosystem. It provides a single access point for all integrations and is mostly built on REST API, which is relatively an easier architecture. Second, the authentication is also unified. Third, it facilitates normalization and standardization of data from different datasets and models for simplified mapping. Finally, it ensures consistency for pagination and filtering.
Thus, unified API will transform the SaaS integration landscape for the years to come and businesses who ride the wave now will find themselves ahead in the SaaS business race.