The availability of cloud-based business applications has come as a boon for many enterprises. There’s a business app for just about any task or process one could think of. Most apps are now also made available through the cloud as software-as-a-service (SaaS). Companies can simply purchase subscriptions and readily gain access to these solutions. They can readily digitize their workloads without having to spend significant capital on software upfront.
Even large companies are now using SaaS apps. While some adopt them to complement their existing enterprise applications, others are even opting to curate their own SaaS app stacks rather than spend on expensive tailor-made systems. Unfortunately, most of these cloud-based apps are specialized and focusing on particular business areas. So, it isn't uncommon for companies to be using a large number of apps to cover their entire workflows.
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Companies often need these apps to work within cohesive and streamlined workflows that support their business processes. Fortunately, this can be achieved through integration where apps can be made to share functionalities and data each other even if they're built by different developers or designed independently. Through integration, users don't have to manually bring data over from one app to the other. This not only makes it convenient for the workflow but it also maintains data integrity across business processes.
App Integration Made Possible
Many business app developers now design their applications with integration in mind. They provide application programming interfaces (APIs) and developer tools that make integration easy. Through these, users can link and bridge the apps they use to create seamless experiences akin to what customized enterprise systems provide.
To illustrate, CRM startup vcita recently announced the launch of its developer hub. The hub features comprehensive documentation and references that allow others to easily work with vcita's APIs, hooks, and software development kit. These tools can be used to extend the platform's functionalities through other apps. Aside from vcita’s native client management, payment, and marketing campaign features, users can integrate an accounting system like QuickBooks to the platform. This allows information such as client lists and sales receipts from vcita to be seamlessly populated into the bookkeeping app, making it quite convenient for both sales and accounting departments.
These tools can also be used by third party enterprises and developers. Many APIs allow their primary users to delegate access to their trusted third parties. For example, a company would want to integrate a SaaS app with another custom app they're building through another developer. The company can generate API keys through the developer hub and provide these to the developer. Users can even choose the types of API keys based on the permissions they want to grant the developer. This way, they can regulate which data and functionalities from the SaaS app will be shared.
Enterprise Users Stand to Gain
For enterprise users, integration allows them to efficiently facilitate work across their business areas. Teams and departments typically have their own ways of doing things, resulting in siloes. They then become less likely to communicate and collaborate openly with other teams. Integrating the apps used across the organization can help prevent these siloes and encourage better collaboration between departments. Since everyone is working on the same information within the same workflow, errors and miscommunication can also be avoided.
Aside from improving collaboration, integration can also enable tasks to be automated across apps. Information or events from one app can be set to trigger tasks in another. For instance, abandoned carts in the company's ecommerce app can be used to trigger its marketing automation app to instantly run campaigns to target these users. Things get done without much need for human intervention.
Users can also gain better utility from each app they use. Instead of apps remaining limited to their original functionalities, integration can further extend and enhance their capabilities. It's even possible to find new and valuable uses for their own apps.
Developers Benefit Too
For developers, preparing their apps for integration is a worthwhile investment. On a development standpoint, designing and building an API makes an app readily extensible and scalable. If the developer decides to make quick enhancements or add functionalities to the app, it can be done without needing to change its core.
Allowing integration can also reframe competition into collaboration. Some developers may understandably have qualms about letting other parties work with their technology. But unless their apps basically perform the same functions and target the same users, it's more likely that business apps are complementary to each other. A client management system should integrate well with a communication app. It's now even common for developers to work on supporting each others' apps, allowing them to cross-promote and cross-sell.
It may not be apparent but many of the top consumer apps today are actually built using a mashup of APIs. Ridesharing app Uber, for instance, uses Google Maps for its mapping technology. This growing synergy across companies and their applications is the reason why even tech giants like Google and Facebook are keen on making their platforms developer friendly. Whether its to leverage their advanced technologies to simply to tap their massive user bases, other companies can use these APIs for their apps. If enough apps rely on a particular API, it makes it quite indispensable in the scheme of things.
Synergy is Good
Clearly, app integration provides benefits for all stakeholders. For enterprise users, integration allows them to maximize their tech investments by not only boosting the utility of each individual app but they also gain from the efficiency that cohesive workflows bring. For developers, integration allows their apps to become scalable and their interplay with other apps could expand their reach. Having apps that not only co-exist but synergize with others should allow business needs to be addressed more capably. As such, it makes sense for both app developers and their enterprise users to consider app integration when building or adopting apps, respectively.