As applications drive business, iPaaS comes of age

If the adage “data is the new oil” is true, then Integration Platform as Service (iPaaS) is the machine you need to dig in and click. The allure of iPaaS is that it provides the necessary integration to connect and integrate the data and processes of multiple business applications and the actual applications themselves. When you consider the number of cloud services, microservices, business applications, and third-party applications within a company can be close to 800 – iPaaS makes the most sense.

But iPaaS didn’t have a good reputation, as many off-the-shelf solutions didn’t provide clarity, or at least transparency, about what to expect from base-level features—not to mention research into more complex automation and integration requirements. For the most part, iPaaS comes at a stage of maturity where customers determine the value it can provide when it is present in their digital core and serves the entire organization.

For iPaaS to become this digital core, and help become the link between systems, it needs to do the near-impossible task of integrating data from all applications, automating the creation of application connectors within cloud services, on-premise and cloud-based processes, and delivering connectivity through APIs, relying heavily on process automation backed by artificial intelligence.

Have we arrived?

Many of the customers we work with treat the iPaaS conversation with some skepticism because the solutions they’ve included to perform the required functions promised by iPaaS fall horribly short. The problem is that a poorly engineered iPaaS opens the door to poor security, creates complex app controls, or on the contrary gives the average user a lot of freedom without management or supervision from the IT team.

The result is a stream of data with no real place to go – poorly engineered APIs, leaked security, and virtually rogue automation with no real business benefit. To solve this problem, call back the iPaaS chat and look at the organization’s rapid business needs and align integration requirements with business strategy. iPaaS must add quantifiable business value to the customer, as they cannot limit their choice of applications, data sources, and development of new applications, simply because the capabilities of integrating legacy environments are limited.

A good iPaaS solution will provide value and speed up the connection of applications, data sources, and devices through any pattern, including API and event-based, across on-premises and cloud environments. They enable collaborative integration with experiences tailored to the end-to-end architecture of a business, connect to virtually any endpoint, provide flexible and independent integration, and most importantly do so from an open platform.

Simplicity is king

Integration is critical in modern application architecture, but it does not operate in a vacuum. iPaaS is useful for companies looking to extract insights from disparate data such as in implementing business process automation or defining customer experiences in real time.

Many iPaaS solutions focus on the integration of homogeneous applications, third-party applications, and the data between them. But these monolithic applications, for example Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) environments, are very good at building their own applications with little thought about how they interact with third-party applications. This requires a lot of technical knowledge and know-how to get it right.

Ultimately, this behavior, and customers’ desire to work on a patchwork of digital solutions in the growing business applications landscape, is what fuels the API economy.

To get started, customers need to enable a modern application architecture that is API-led and embedded with AI. What’s on top of that shouldn’t really matter because this is where your iPaaS environment will start to flex its muscles and deliver value – even better if you use iPaaS to create the needed cohesion between business services, data, cloud services, and applications.

With this model implemented, companies can rely on APIs built with a low-code approach to enable everyone in the organization to unlock the digital flow of information and data. This opens self-service tools that enable business users to troubleshoot problems on their own.

Modern app limits

Today, process and automation are as business strategies as the application itself. Process automation is seen as a game-changer for digital transformation, but often, IT, DevOps, and data teams aren’t always on the same page. This is where low code iPaaS allows for a more flexible way to connect applications and data without having to call a programmer with every requirement – and it can be accessed from anywhere.

The recent SaaS boom has forced iPaaS to grow and consider activities related to external data exchange, migration, redundancy and even integration into the overall application environment. AI plays a huge role in accelerating data integration by mapping smart data and exposing insights from the API ecosystem, and helps shorten the time between action moments and digital business insights.

Beyond integration are the data-fueled customer experiences that iPaaS can unlock. for example, Caesars Entertainment It deployed an iPaaS solution to help it perform customer personalization, by connecting customer experiences. Now from making a reservation to watching a show, playing games, eating out or going swimming, the company can measure customer satisfaction levels and use intuitive data to influence the overall experience.

This is where we see the maturity of iPaaS. Not just to integrate applications and data, but to turn that integration into qualified business outcomes. Has iPaaS come of age? I’d like to think so, and we’re only now seeing how, when used across the entire app landscape, it helps customers convert apps into new business currency.

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