Software integration involves combining and integrating separate pieces of software into one system from relatively small components to of much larger ones.
Having the right tools at your disposal, can make all the difference when it comes to automatically synchronizing data between your different applications.
According to Zapier’s state of business automation report, 65% of knowledge workers say they are less stressed at work because they automate manual tasks.
In addition, two-thirds of employees would recommend integration and automation to other businesses.
Integration allows you to connect your various software platforms in one place, reducing manual entry and increasing efficiency.
Doesn't that sound great?
Well, the good news is that you’re about to have a crash course in software integration today and find out pretty much everything you need to know.
We'll go over how integrations work, how it benefits you and give you a few tips and tricks on how to integrate your software online.
Let's dive right in, shall we? 🤩
Using the table of contents below, you can also learn more about the topics we cover in this article. ✅ 👇🏻
In its simplest form, software integration is linking two or more pieces of software to share data and information.
Furthermore, software integrations are designed to ensure that no valuable information is lost during the software interactions.
One of the most common challenges organizations face, especially in the wake of the pandemic, is integrating disjointed software.
Many applications aren't connected to one another, which results in what is referred to as data islands.
To avoid such complications you can use different levels of integration at which applications or software work together, including:
It may feel confusing initially, but once you learn your way around integration, you won't want to return.
Software integration is all about making your life easier and eliminating duplication and redundant tasks.
One type of Integration is based on APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and allows data to flow between applications.
To simplify things, some companies might prefer to use cloud-based integrations like SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions whose API is publicly accessible.
Cloud-based SaaS solutions have become more prevalent in recent years due to their accessibility from anywhere with a reliable internet connection.
However, they can also be replaced by in-house software.
Having said that, let's dig a little bit deeper and get to know more about the different types of software integration.
To integrate your software applications online you have different options to consider.
Here we mentiond three main ways you can integrate your softwazre online:
These tools facilitate real-time data processing, analytics, and business intelligence.
Moreover, each tool has a vast collection of popular applications already configured for quick and easy connectivity.
For example, many software applications have an integrations section in the platform settings that shows which programs are directly integrated with them.
In many cases, this process involves enabling the integration, logging into the platform you wish to integrate with, and allowing data to be sent back and forth.
There is a possibility that newer or less popular software platforms are not yet supported by an established or third-party integration tool. If this is the case we suggest you to work with a developer and determine what options are available to you for building a custom integration.
Voilà, here you have three ways to seamlessly integrate your software! 🥳
💡 Check out Top 10 Best Integration Software
As we mentioned earlier, Integration occurs when two software applications or more, communicate with each other.
As a result of integration, connected applications share information, allowing for faster and more accurate data updates.
The following are some common ways to integrate software applications:
1️⃣ Application Programming Interface (API)
API integration is a widely used method for interconnecting computer programs, including applications, websites, and databases. APIs are a set of standardized programming languages that let computer programs access each other's functionality or data.
2️⃣ Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS)
Integration Platform-as-a-Service provides a set of cloud services that enable the creation, execution, and management of integration flows connecting any combination of on-premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications, and data, in and across organizations.
Several cloud-based integration service platforms offer an environment for developing integration flows between on-premise and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.
3️⃣ Enterprise Bus Service (EBS)
Enterprise bus services (EBS) are tools that sit midway between two or more applications and facilitate data exchange.
Among its functions, it transforms data models, handles connectivity, performs message routing, converts communication protocols, and may be able to combine multiple requests.
Typically, EBS solutions are used by large companies as part of a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to connect internally based enterprise applications.
Organizing your data based on what it represents helps the integration process. For example, the data you want to combine could be in different formats, such as text, numbers, people, currency, and files.
Once you've identified each system's data type and how it functions, it gives you a complete view of the integration process.
Understanding the data, fields, and sync directions for each software and organizing them based on what they represent is essential to ensure that you can meet your project objectives.
It also gives you a solid strategy to build on if your requirements change during development.
Here are five types of data integration that you can use for your business:
🟢 Manual Data Integration
In order to implement manual data integration, your organization must hire a dedicated data engineer who manually manages and codes every data connection.
It is more likely for errors to occur with complex data connections or big data queries when using this technique.
🟢 Middleware Data Integration
A middleware data integration solution transfers data between different applications and databases. If your organization is switching from older legacy systems to modern applications, this strategy helps create a network of information available to everyone.
🟢 Application-Based Integration
You can locate, retrieve, and transform your data using application-based integration software and then integrate it into your desired destination.
🟢 Uniform Data Access Integration (UDAI)
In this data integration method, the data is presented in a consistent format to facilitate processing while maintaining the original data source.
🟢 Common Storage Integration
In this approach, the integration retrieves and uniformly displays the data, makes a copy, and stores it.
Common storage integration is the foundation for most data warehouses, also known as modern data stores.
While this may sound straightforward, it can be challenging to keep all these technical details organized in practice.
And while there will always be exceptions to the rules and techniques, the KISS (Keep it Simple Silly) principl is more relevant than ever when architecting an integration.
An API (application programming interface) is a set of rules that allows two applications to communicate with each other.
APIs are based on the concept of the transfer of data between applications.
By building integrations on APIs, you can connect your applications to other software and use them in collaboration with one another.
The integration allows for the flow of information to and from apps and devices in real-time, while APIs allow them to connect and talk to one another.
Here to make it understandable, we take the liberty to use the famous TV, cable, and laptop analogy.
Let’s assume that the application is the TV, then the cable (the programming) allows your laptop to communicate with the TV, and the interface is how users can interact with the application (by watching a movie on your TV).
Assuming that you understood our simple API description above, then you already know what API would be in this example, don't you!?
Yes, API, in this case is the ports on the side of your laptop in which you insert your cable to facilitate the integration and connection between your laptop and your television.
How easy was that to understand; right? 😉
Third-party integration is a simple way to add external data to your existing project. It uses different APIs (Application Program Interfaces) to connect your app with other systems and software, so you can build a new solution in a shorter period of time.
Third-party integration is like a shortcut: instead of starting from scratch, you can use one of the many existing APIs out there to add new features to your project.
For example, suppose you're building a Shopify store and need a Shopify cookie tool to protect your website’s privacy to the fullest extent under GDPR law; instead of creating your own cookie popup you can just pull in an API that already has that functionality.
Software integration completes the puzzle and plays a key role in getting all your systems working in harmony.
As your business scales, more software is added to manage different processes.
However, this can make it difficult for employees to determine who is responsible for what task and when.
In these cases, system integration and automation can save the day. 😎
Integrations improve your business in significant ways. They help to bridge gaps between software and provide a better user experience and timely information so that you can make decisions based on the most up-to-date data available.
Here are some other ways that integration benefits your bottom line:
By integrating your systems, you can access the right data at the right time to make the best decisions for your company.
With the right information, you can effectively minimize risks.
By integrating your software systems, you can get a comprehensive view, which facilitates decision-making.
Software integration eliminates the need to switch between different applications to access data that may impact your decision.
When related data is gathered into one application, it becomes more meaningful & powerful.
By bringing together multiple sources of data, trends and conclusions can be drawn much faster, making it easier to analyze a variety of data sources.
You will be able to assist your customers more effectively if you integrate both CTI and CRM software.
Accessing customer information quickly and easily is critical for maintaining good relationships and can be achieved by automating your help desk software.
Integration between systems allows you to streamline your operations and make your productivity more efficient.
With one point of data entry and no need to switch between different software applications, the processing is simpler, quicker, and cheaper.
Integrations can create opportunities for you to achieve goals that would otherwise be impossible to meet.
Although it may seem daunting, if you plan well, you can ensure that the implementation and your integration go smoothly.
Here's what we suggest you do when considering integrating your software online:
Make a list of all the software applications you currently use and organize them in a spreadsheet.
Make a list of all the data points within each platform to determine if there are any overlaps.
Explore the different data points that can be connected and how they might be helpful to you.
Then, think about the current manual processes and how you can automate some of these to speed up your workflow.
Look through your existing software applications to determine if automation features are available. There may be times when you have these features but are unaware of them, and you end up ignoring them.
If there are any gaps in your current platforms, review some of the best tools for software integration and choose one that aligns with your business objectives.
Check out the features that third-party integration tools like Zapier and Integromate offer for connecting your data.
Remember, although third-party integration tools may not be as straightforward as established integrations, they are still quite user-friendly and practical.
If neither of these two integration options worked for you, then you can consider custom integration.
There is absolutely no reason for businesses to be afraid of integrations due to their complexity; instead, they should embrace them since the benefits (for both business and team members alike) are too great to ignore.
Hopefully, some of the information above sheds light on what kind of integration would be most productive for your organization and how you can integrate your software online.
Once you define your goals and scenarios, you can start thinking about what type of software and which service providers to engage with so you can start integrating.
In software integration, multiple types of software sub-systems are brought together into one system. There are several reasons to integrate software, including migrating from one database system to another, such as cloud-based storage.
On the other hand, software integration platforms enable users to create, secure, and manage integration flows across applications and data stores with a combination of integrated software products.
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