As Software as a Service (SaaS) adoption has grown exponentially over the last few years, many customers using hosted applications have started asking the SaaS application vendors to provide data integration and connectivity capabilities. For various reasons, mainly driven by business needs, customers are looking to tightly integrate their data in the SaaS app with their on-premises back-end systems and databases.
In recent months companies have encountered an increasing demand from our customers for easy, fast and flexible SaaS integration solutions. Primarily these have centered around integration requirements from customers using Salesforce and NetSuite applications but now we see other SaaS apps as well as the whole market experiences growing adoption.
We have had numerous discussions with a number of SaaS vendors who are looking at how should they approach this whole issue of integration. It definitely seems to surprise the SaaS companies as they have mainly focused on creating the best, feature-rich application they could and have not given much thought to integrating the customer data with their internal systems.
Here are the key elements of advice we offer to these SaaS vendors:
- As with any other business issue, approach SaaS Integration as a STRATEGY and not a tactic.
- This means have an end goal in mind in terms of where you want to be with your integration capabilities and address the immediate customer need in a way (tactic) that puts you on path for that end goal.
- Address this need and grow your capabilities in an incremental but multi-phased approach.
- Bring in the experts since Integration is tough, difficult and complex.
In terms of options available to SaaS vendors are :
- Option A: SaaS vendor provides integration services
- Option B: SaaS vendor publishes XML/Web Services interface
- Option C: SaaS vendor refers customers to Certified Partners