Over the past five years, software as a service (SaaS) has become the go-to delivery model for providing software capabilities to businesses. SaaS solutions provide low capital outlay for infrastructure, a scalable operating cost model and the availability of robust capabilities and specialized features that business stakeholders desire. In most cases it is cheaper, faster and safer for businesses to implement a SaaS solution rather than building something internally or even installing off-the-shelf capabilities. But with the expansion of SaaS offerings in the marketplace, SaaS vendors now seek out new ways to differentiate their offerings from competitors.
Many SaaS companies are looking at including integration capabilities into their SaaS offerings as a way of making their solutions more comprehensive and more appealing to their customers and more profitable for them as providers. Embedding integration into any SaaS solutions accelerates product adoption, provides significant cost savings, is a more “sticky offering” for the SaaS providers, and is more difficult to replace in the long run when a new bright shiny offering comes around from a competitor. This is the first of a 3-article series on how the topic of embedded integration and how SaaS companies are leveraging integration platform as a service (iPaaS) into their commercial SaaS offerings.
I’ve got a REST API or some Point-to-point connectors, isn’t that enough?
RESTful APIs and certified connectors to 3rd party systems are seen by many companies as the “minimum required features” for a SaaS offering. They enable customers to develop their own custom integrations to a wide variety of other systems in their IT infrastructure. These capabilities are certainly important (so don’t omit them), but they are lacking in a couple of important ways. First is that they put the effort and expense on the customer of your offering to build and maintain integrations. Lower implementation costs are one of the key value drivers of adopting SaaS, so the effort to develop and maintain integrations takes away from both the return on investment (ROI) of the solution and increases the time-to-value realization.
The second issue is the stickiness of your solution (measured by how easy it is to abandon your offering and move to your competitor). The more difficult it is to integrate your SaaS solution to other pieces of the IT ecosystem, the fewer connections customers will build. With each connection, your solution becomes more important to the company and more likely to be around long-term. This means you want to make it as easy as possible for companies to develop and deploy integrations with your SaaS solution.
Transforming your SaaS solution into a data hub
Regardless of what type of data integration architecture customers aspire to deploy, the nature of IT systems is that there will always be some systems that serve as data hubs and others that are ancillary systems (spokes). Data hubs are really important, while ancillary systems are often seen as disposable. Embedding integration platform capabilities within your SaaS solution is one of the easiest ways to transform your offering to play the role of data hub for your customers.
Customers will follow the path of least resistance when developing and deploying IT systems. Building point-to-point connections is slow, expensive, brittle, and difficult. If you offer an integration platform as part of your SaaS offering, you provide an easier path for customers to follow. By embedding the capabilities in your offering, you take the integration burden away from the customer and lower barriers to adoption. If your offering can seamlessly leverage these data connections (ingest, transform, syndicate the data and load it into a cloud data warehouse to generate meaningful business insights), you will have a sustainable competitive advantage over your competition. You will be able to transform an ancillary/point solution into a platform, data hub, and business value enabler.
SaaS providers will be able to create more value for themselves as well as their end customers if they include integration capabilities within their SaaS offerings. Act now to start harvesting this value sooner and differentiate your offerings from competitors. Once you show customers how much your integration capabilities can help, they will have no need to consider your competitors’ alternatives.
If you’re ready to get started or want to learn more, Actian can help. The Actian DataConnect Inside is an integration platform that can be seamlessly embedded into your SaaS offerings to give you the capabilities that your customers need.
To learn more, visit www.actian.com/dataconnect