In today's rapidly evolving tech landscape, the need for seamless integrations between various software systems is more pressing than ever. SaaS companies are on the hunt for effective integration solutions to provide their customers, all while avoiding the headache of intricate development processes. This surge in demand has given birth to two notable solutions: embedded Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) offerings and integration infrastructure platforms.
What is an Embedded iPaaS?
An embedded iPaaS is an integration platform tucked inside another software product, allowing users to access integrations without extra sign-ins. Similar to embedded analytics, payments, chat, and voice tools, embedded iPaaS empowers SaaS companies to offer vital functionality without the need to build and maintain it themselves.
Given the surge in software use, the demand for ready-made integration is growing. Companies aim to avoid the entire cost of integrating systems. Even smaller SaaS companies now require numerous out-of-the-box integrations to stay competitive. But, creating and upkeeping these integrations is time-consuming and costly. That's where tools come in.
Embedded iPaaS solutions assist SaaS companies in delivering this functionality without sidelining their core product development. Most B2B SaaS companies should adopt tools that handle some embedded iPaaS functions. Exceptions include when integrations are central to the SaaS product, it's designed solely for other SaaS products, or the product category requires only a few integrations.
When integration is fundamental to the SaaS product, like a workflow automation tool, in-house integrations make sense. Similarly, if the product category requires minimal integrations, such as a Gmail extension, using an embedded iPaaS isn't necessary.
Exploring Embedded iPaaS vs. Traditional iPaaS
Embedded iPaaS serves a unique purpose compared to standard iPaaS solutions. Some embedded iPaaS platforms have evolved from existing iPaaS systems, while others were crafted specifically to be embedded within various SaaS products.
Conventional iPaaS tools were developed for businesses seeking a means to integrate their systems seamlessly. iPaaS offerings cater to diverse company sizes – think of Boomi and Mulesoft for large enterprises, Tray and Workato for midsize companies, and Zapier for smaller firms. This diversity reflects varying complexities and structures.
iPaaS solutions were designed for individual companies to automate data flow across their diverse systems. For instance, a company like Lion Foods might utilize around 238 different software applications for its operations. iPaaS systems of that caliber are typically implemented and managed by engineering and operations teams. Their purpose is to empower departments like marketing to adjust how data moves between Lion Foods' Salesforce and Marketo accounts by leveraging the iPaaS.
Most iPaaS systems include visual workflow builders that theoretically allow business users to modify data flows. However, in practice, these builders often demand substantial technical and data knowledge, along with custom coding to meet specific business goals. Tools like Zapier, tailored for smaller businesses, are generally more user-friendly for business users, albeit with somewhat simpler data flows and configuration options.
The biggest difference between an embedded iPaaS and a regular iPaaS is that an embedded iPaaS instance must facilitate integrations for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of businesses, not just one (like Lion Foods). This introduces complexities related to managing accounts and customizing integrations on a larger scale.
For an embedded iPaaS to be effective, it needs to allow the SaaS company's product to connect each customer with their specific integrations, integration settings, and integration history (logs of data flows and syncs). Additionally, an embedded iPaaS should empower the SaaS company's customers to independently discover, install, configure, and troubleshoot integrations.
Embedded iPaaS: Evaluating Fit and Functionality
When considering the adoption of an embedded iPaaS solution within your SaaS product, it's important to ensure it aligns with your unique needs.
Here are the key criteria that warrant a closer look:
1. User-Friendly Interface: Make sure customers can easily find, set up, and customize integrations. A smooth, user-friendly interface is a must, and analytics can be a helpful bonus.
2. Seamless integration: Check how well the embedded iPaaS fits into your app. It should feel like a natural part of the user experience.
3. Customization options: See if customers can tweak integration configurations to fit their needs. It's a plus if the solution can handle varied requirements as your customer base grows.
4. Visual builder: Find out if customers need to use a visual builder. The simpler it is, the happier your customers will be.
5. Coding complexity: Assess how much coding skill your customers need. The solution should match the capabilities of your engineering team.
6. Scaling up: As your user numbers rise, the embedded iPaaS should keep up, handling more integrations without a hitch.
7. Webhooks support: Look for support for webhooks, as they can boost real-time integration capabilities.
8. Adapting to changes: Check how well the solution handles changes in APIs or functionality of integrated systems.
9. Flexibility: Consider how smoothly you can integrate your own API changes into the solution.
10. Usage insights: It's valuable if you can track user behavior, installations, and logs. Quick troubleshooting is a big plus.
11. User experience: Put yourself in your customers' shoes and see how user-friendly the integration process is.
12. Dealing with failures: See if customers can troubleshoot integration problems on their own, reducing their need for support.
13. Analyzing user interaction: If you can track how customers interact with integrations, it can help you make improvements.
14. Partner insights: If it applies, find out if technology partners can see how their integrations are used.
15. Migration ease: Think about future migrations and how smoothly you can transition code ownership.
16. Pricing clarity: Pricing should be straightforward. Check for any extra charges and make sure the terms make sense for what you're getting.
By taking these practical points into account, you can confidently decide whether an embedded iPaaS is a good move for your SaaS product, making sure it's a valuable addition that fits well with your growth plans.
A Modern Alternative: Integration Infrastructure Platforms
As the SaaS landscape expands and integration demands skyrocket, a newer breed of integration solutions has emerged. These platforms not only handle the core functionality of embedded iPaaS but also offer additional infrastructure to turbocharge technology partnerships.
In successful ecosystems like Salesforce and Shopify, some key integrations are in-house creations. However, the majority are developed by tech partners. This is where integration infrastructure platforms come into play—they're designed to foster a top-notch integration ecosystem around a SaaS product.
Unlike embedded iPaaS, these platforms don't just serve as an integration middleware layer; they're all about building a seamless, interoperable ecosystem around your SaaS offering. Instead of forcing a predefined visual builder, they let you and your partners directly handle APIs and define integration logic. This results in a more native, tailor-made integration experience that scales to meet diverse customer needs.
The focus here is on powering interoperability and partnerships, not just integrating features. An integration infrastructure platform creates shared visibility among customers, partners, and your company. It facilitates lead sharing, reveals demand insights, enhances customer integration experiences, and simplifies the discovery of partner apps.
In a nutshell, while embedded iPaaS solutions cater to integration features, integration infrastructure platforms go the extra mile to fuel thriving partnerships and seamless interoperability, ultimately driving more value for everyone involved.
To witness an integration infrastructure platform in action, request a Pandium demo here.