21 Jun Why application integrations matter
Why application integrations matter
As companies adapt their services to an increasingly digital world, connections make the difference. Not just the connection with their customers matters, however. The way they link their applications is just as important. A fragmented application landscape has far-reaching implications for employees and customers alike, so those connections should be as efficient and secure as possible. When companies merge or grow significantly, having a streamlined flow of information becomes especially important.
In this blog post, we’ll go over the benefits of application integrations, the importance of security, and how application frameworks can help with digital innovation.
The power of integrations
Let’s start with an example to explain why it’s important to link your various applications. Imagine a company that sells a product and where multiple departments rely on customer data. The sales department needs to have an overview of prospects, the warehouse needs to know where to ship their products, the finances department needs payment addresses, and so forth. To make matters more complicated, each department uses their own software.
Imagine what would happen when this customer data changes. Every time the customer moves, changes bank accounts, or makes any other change, departments and their software would be out of sync. If multiple departments need that data at the same time, there will be costly mistakes and confusion. Manual updates will take time and effort, be prone to errors, and will need to be constantly communicated across applications.
The company could avoid all that hassle if they had a central place to store, synchronise, and send the data to its pieces of software. This is the power of integrations. They make sure that business processes can run independently, efficiently and securely, while avoiding unnecessary manual administrative tasks.
Looking at the bigger picture
Most companies use a central database to store data, but they still need connections. CRM and ERP software suites keep those connections in one system, but these lead to more costs and less flexibility because of limited customisation and subscription plans with mandatory upgrades. APIs avoid those restrictions, since users can connect to multiple individual applications outside of a system. They are gaining in popularity, and for good reason.
When defining integrations, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind. To improve the experience for employees and customers, you need to map your processes and their dependencies exactly. Don’t be scared to make changes and look beyond a single application. What if you add a process because of digitalisation, but your current software package does not support it? What if another piece of software or a different SaaS solution is the perfect fit? Your company shouldn’t have to miss the opportunity to innovate just because it doesn’t fit with your current application.
The freedom of frameworks
APIs offer you the freedom to choose applications that are the best at what they do individually, but something that ties them together is still recommended. What if, for example, your employees constantly need to switch between four or more of those applications? Sure, they may exchange information in the blink of an eye thanks to APIs, but it’s still a lot of back and forth. What if they still want a central interface that connects those apps into a single portal and user interface?
That’s where software frameworks come in. They seamlessly and securely connect the various pieces of software that you use. They can handle CRM and ERP systems with some additional APIs, but also landscapes with lots of applications and APIs. Frameworks can fulfil front-end or back-end capabilities, or both, and even function as databases. They let you define customised overviews for each department or individual employees, fit to their specific needs.
Choosing the right fit
The decision for deliberate integrations and a software framework may be an easy one, but choosing which framework to work with is a lot more complicated. We think that companies tend to focus too much on the already available connections, and too little on security.
Most frameworks will advertise several ready-made integrations for software suites like Office 365, SAP or Salesforce, but it’s important to realise that this isn’t a limiting factor. If the framework offers API capabilities, you can connect any application you want to it. Nearly all modern software solutions already offer trusted APIs, documentation or both, so it’s relatively easy to set up connections.
Instead, companies should focus on security. Does a framework encrypt its communication, and how does it handle the different API specifications? Can you configure a customised user access policy? Is this limited to an application-level policy, or can you define screens or even fields separately? Does the framework support two-factor authentication (2FA) through authenticator apps or biometric data like fingerprints? What about single sign-on (SSO) or passwordless logins?
An expert’s opinion
These are all questions that may not appear on top of the sales pages, but you should still ask. Besides the obvious importance of security, technologies like SSO and passwordless logins can vastly improve the user experience for employees and customers. That’s why security should always be at the top of your mind instead of an afterthought.
Of course, an expert’s opinion is still the most invaluable advice you can get. That’s why we recommend working with a trusted advisor. An advisor can check whether a software framework is right for you, which integrations would be most interesting, and evaluate the security of the end product. If you put in the effort to streamline your business, make sure that it doesn’t happen at the expense of security!
Not sure where to start when it comes to application frameworks and integrations? Need an expert’s opinion? Contact us, and we’ll make sure that you get the best fit: that’s the GroupWave guarantee!