The phrase “in the cloud” is no longer just a buzzword or trend. The adoption of SaaS solutions has grown significantly over the last couple of years that the industry is expected to be worth $75 billion in 2014.
If you’re one of the many companies that have been conducting business in the cloud then you know that there isn’t a shortage of SaaS apps for businesses. From CRM (Zoho, Salesforce), to accounting (Freshbooks, Xero), and even customer service (Zendesk, GetStatisfaction), there’s a cloud-based solution for whatever business need you may have.
And the beauty of running of your business using cloud-based apps is that you and your staff can work from anywhere. The data and tools you need aren’t tied down to a single device, and software updates as well as backups are automatic.
Yes, conducting business with the use of SaaS solutions has a lot of benefits. Using these apps can transform your business and make it easier for you to scale. But before you become too “cloud happy” and start moving all your data and systems to the web, you first have to see to it that your cloud solutions play nice with each other.
By that we mean properly integrating your SaaS apps so that data smoothly flows and syncs across all programs.
For instance, if you’re tracking traffic and conversions on your eCommerce site, you have to make sure that your shopping cart “talks” to your analytics software so that it reflects the right data. Or, if you’re using a mobile POS system to process payments, you would want to connect it to your accounting program so you won’t have to manually enter the transactions.
The process sounds simple enough when you’re dealing with two apps. It’s just a matter connecting point A to B, right? But when you’re running your entire business in the cloud, and you’re using five or ten SaaS programs to do it, connecting all those points becomes very complicated.
That’s why it’s important that you think about how you’re going to integrate all your cloud-based apps prior to signing up. When you’re shopping around for solutions, visit each provider’s integrations or add-ons page and see if the apps that you’re already using (or are planning to use) are listed.
If you don’t see your apps or if you’re using custom programs in your business, check if the providers have an API that allows you integrate your apps with theirs. An API or Application Programming Interface is a set of programming instructions or protocols that developers can use to build software for a particular application. It enables applications to smoothly transfer data and communicate with each other, and you’re going to need it if you want your apps to work with the providers of your choice.
Most SaaS solutions also provide free trials, and you should take advantage of these before committing to anything. Evaluate how well the programs run together, and if they can do so with little to no action on your part.
Another way to ensure that SaaS programs communicate with each other is by using app integration services such as OneSaas, MuleSoft, or Boomi. These solutions enable you to connect your apps and specify which types of data to collect and send. Most app integration services provide a drag-and-drop interface, so you’ll be able to link various programs without writing lines and lines of code.
When selecting an integration solution, check each company’s partners page to see if the cloud apps that you’re using are supported by the service. And like other SaaS programs, integration solutions usually offer free trials, and you should definitely take each provider for a test drive prior to signing up, to determine if it works for your business.
The bottom line is, integration is something that no modern business can ignore. Whether you’re running two cloud apps or ten, you have to take the necessary steps to ensure that your SaaS programs are playing nice with each other. By doing so, you’ll not only get to keep your sanity, but you’ll also serve your customers better and grow your business much faster.