Cloud Business Applications are fantastic! They allow organizations to implement quickly, scale when they need to, work from anywhere, and fulfill almost any need. While this is wonderful, having multiple cloud applications can land you in an age old trap… data silos. If your cloud apps don’t talk to each other then you end up in a similar scenario you may have faced with on-premise applications, having data everywhere with no way to use it together. This is why it is so important to have a cloud integration strategy.
Integration in the cloud is different than on-premise, because we do not typically have access to the applications’ databases, but the concept is still the same. We have data in one system that needs to interact with data in another system. We need to use an ETL tool to extract, transform, and load that data into a system and then perhaps send the data back in a bi-directional interface. Chances are you will need to do this with quite a few applications. For instance, an organization at a minimum usually has an ERP system, CRM System, Expense Management system, eCommerce, and a slew of others. When you step back and take a look at your organization as your whole you may realize there are more applications in place than you realized.
There are lots of one-off connectors on the market. This one connects Concur and Dynamics 365 Business Central, this one connects Shopify and Dynamics GP, this one connects D365 Sales and Hubspot, and so on and so on. If you purchase as many connectors as you had systems not only would the amount of applications you have explode, but your software budget would as well. How do you prevent this? Start looking at cloud integration as a platform strategy. There are a few key things to look for when evaluating integration platforms.
Flexibility is the most important factor in choosing an integration tool. Whatever you choose needs to be able to grow with you and work with your business systems in a number of different ways. For instance, an integration tool may have pre-built connectors to systems like Dynamics 365 Business Central or Sales, Salesforce, or Zendesk. If you aren’t using any system they have pre-built connectors than you would want to be able to connect to your system using a RESTful API. Do not choose a tool that will box you in!
2.Ease of Use
If Carla in Finance or Scott in Business Development has to learn C#, Java, or VBA to create an integration, chances are that isn’t going to be very successful. While you want to have the option to use coding for integrations, the tool should be simple and easy enough for an end user to navigate. No-code tools are a great way to get user buy in and eliminate a lot of manual processes.
3. Support and Resources
An Integration Platform will become as important to your business as your ERP or CRM system. You need to choose one that has a wide user base, excellent support, and a lot of resources available to you. You should also work with a trusted business partner, like your ERP or CRM partner, to determine what the right fit for you is. These people know your business and user base intimately and they will be able to help you make the right decision.
The first step in finding your cloud integration platform is to work with your trusted Business Application Partner. They are intimately familiar with your business and will be able to guide you in the process! Reach out to KTL Solutions to start your evaluation today!