As a product builder or leader, building integrations would be one of the top things demanding your attention. A Gartner report indicates that through 2020, integration work has accounted for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform. Another MuleSoft Saas Integration Survey mentions that 94% respondents feel integration with other systems is important for winning new customers.
Changes in the remote work HR Tech market accelerate the need for building a scalable integration strategy. In other words, an initiative by the product development company to enlist integrations with more and more products and platforms with focused investments in terms of technology, strategy, and competitive advantage is crucial.
Scalable Integrations – Can You Afford to Do Without It?
Large-scale data integration is a problem majority of the companies face. Often, there are time constraints to build these data pipelines across systems, and issues of data mapping, data cleansing, etc. while building those arise. Add to the mix, a flurry of a whole new set of HCM platforms, app marketplaces, and specialized systems that a product needs to be integrated with. After all, product builders want to be where their customers want to be.
In that case, how should product vendors build a scalable integration, allowing their product to connect to multiple products? The answer brings in some key pointers for us to consider.
The first one – at what cost? Here’s where the argument of integration as a strategic investment comes in. At a recent Power Hour hosted by Harbinger, Donald Darrah, VP of Alliance Partnerships at EBI, mentions that integrations for EBI as a company proved useful for new customer acquisition and also for customer retention. A significant 50% of the company’s revenue came in due to these integrations. And building a scalable, configurable integration solution for customers then became a key strategic business initiative.
Over last couple of years, Harbinger has observed the HR Tech market and seen how the focus for product companies is shifting towards building an integrated solution environment. An example of this is the ADP marketplace which is a simplified HCM ecosystem with single sign-on, single data input, and single billing for all solutions purchases. To ensure a seamless user experience, product developers leverage these marketplaces or app exchange platforms to tap into the customer base of the large company with appropriate integration connectors. Win-win for all.
Pointers for the Right Integration Approach
Organizations very commonly comprise several applications that can be either custom-built, acquired from a third-party, or even a combination of both. Of course, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that can cater to all. The integration strategy needed depends on the use case, its potential to impact customer satisfaction or provide competitive advantage, and whether it aligns with the technology and architectural roadmap of the product.
Keeping this in mind, we suggest an integration checklist to help you decide:
1. Business strategy – Check if there is a long tail of small providers that need to integrate. In that case, build connectors with the large tech providers and then create an integration platform that supports the long tail of small tech providers.
Also, consider what benefits can implementation of a marketplace app give your company.
2. Customers – It will be good to know if there a need for real-time actions and notifications that is expected. This is will help you overcome any performance challenges that may arise.
3. Technology – Make sure that the integration supports the required transaction volume or the number of API calls per day. The strategy should also include any standard governing data exchange in the industry.
To make integrations scalable, you can either plan a hybrid approach with Point-to-Point (where two applications communicate with each other over a connector) or an Integration Hub (where many integrations can be configured in a decoupled way). You can build your own integration platform or buy an integration product as well.
Ravindra Rao, CEO, Orchestral.ai, in the same Power Hour, explains how Open Source integration could also be built, if your company has the adequate technology bandwidth to build on WSO2, StackStorm, or similar Open Source integration platforms.
Dell Boomi, Mulesoft, and other such integration platforms are an option as well, if building or Open Source doesn’t quite suit the product roadmap and timelines. There are tons of resources that will help companies leverage the ready-to-use, configurable connectors built by these integration platforms to their own needs. Of course, there is a license cost attached with some reasonable knowledge of how to configure those too.
And there’s more – in the Power Hour session, Manish Nautiyal, SVP of Engineering with Beacon Healthcare, stresses the importance of how their healthcare product is now adapted to suit integration needs of secured data exchange via different techniques including Open ID, OAuth, and more such protocols. Yes, let us add data security to the list of must-haves too.
Building scalable integrations is necessary for your product, and these experts have validated this for you. If you wish to hear the entire conversation, feel free to check this video.
Harbinger Systems recently hosted a Virtual Collaboration Zone, in association with HR Tech Alliances, where industry experts Shrikant Pattathil, Katrina Paglierani, and Vandana Aggarwal had a discussion about ‘Scalable Growth with Platform Integrations: Challenges and Solutions‘. View on-demand webinar recording
If you have already built a scalable integration strategy, then you have taken the right step towards building a successful product. If not, what are you waiting for?