Since the creation of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business model by Marc Benioff of Salesforce on multi-tenancy architecture in 1999/2000, we have all come to love our cloud apps from sales to finance and talent management.

Where we previously paid large sums for installation and maintenance of few on-premise licensed software, our costs are now split across a large number of best-of-breed cloud software applications.


As the software market continues to grow at an unprecedented level, our lives have become harder due to the data and functionality residing in many cloud apps.

In our thirst to find a solution to this ever growing problem, the cloud integration market has started to blossom with a diverse range of solutions.

This short post intends to classify them, so that you have a better chance of finding solutions that could fix your specific productivity bottlenecks.

1. Integration tools

Integration vendors can broadly be split into three types:

  • Top end Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) based vendors such as IBM, Oracle, MuleSoft and WSO2. Sometimes called Enterprise Integration Platform-as-a-Service (EIPaaS) vendors.
  • Mid market vendors such as Cazoomi.
  • Mass market vendors servicing smaller companies such as Zapier, PieSync and IFTTT.

Here is a quick analysis by Gartner.

As G2Crowd plans to kill Gartner with user based reviews, here is their analysis.

2. Business Intelligence tools

Business Intelligence (BI) tools help organisational strategic decision making, e.g. 9Spokes and Microsoft PowerBI. This is a very crowded market with a diverse range of products, warranting a dedicated discussion.

3. Workflow efficiency tools based on bringing everything together

Cluedin improves workflows. Taco harmonises all your tasks. Tenfold focuses on customer 360º view. These tools store data locally in order to improve the efficiency of your workflows. Data integrity could still be a problem, depending on how often data is synchronised.

On the other hand, UnifiedVU which introduces virtual integration technology to the market, focus on user interface and user experiences instead of sending data back and forth between applications. UnifiedVU is the only vendor who does not store data locally, ensuring higher degree of data governance.

4. All-in-One solutions

One ERP like products trying to do everything under one product includes solutions from Work[etc]Teamwave, Odoo and Zoho.

5. Market Consolidators

Matured vendors such as Salesforce are continually attempting to bring everything together through strategic acquisitions supported by integrations. This is not limited to the biggest vendors, as every vendor has the same aspirations, yet most will only be able to build islands around their core markets.

Summary

As you can see, the world of software is getting confusing. Software product comparison sites are getting popular by the day, trying to reduce the confusion. Consultants help with advise and hand holding. At the same time, buyer behaviours are changing. No buyer like to be locked down and held to ransom by the vendors. Buyers are looking for flexible terms, which allow them to change software they use, as businesses grow or contract. In this messy environment, companies like UnifiedVU can help deliver an user interface bringing everything that matters together, helping organisations to operate smartly and make quicker and better-informed decisions.

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Categories: Research

Manoj Ranaweera

  • Tim Ward

    Do you think that companies will need to use “all of the above” or do you think it is a choice that they need to make?

    • Hi @disqus_csMVavFq1H:disqus thanks for dropping by. Given that no one type of integration vendor offers a solution to all the challenges a company might have, I believe a combination of vendor solutions might be needed.

      • Tim Ward

        I totally agree. It feels like all solutions above also offer a different “View” of the data and they all make sense for solving specific problems. It is probably important that these tools play nicely with each other as well (e.g. they have an API that allows all data to be shared as well).

  • Tim Berman

    Our data is so siloed, at the moment, and it has taken me months to trial and error a number of different programs to build out my stack. Once our stack is built out, we want to adopt a lot of automation. While there are many good tools out there, building a stack that integrates _well_ is a totally different proposition from building one that simply integrates. The onset of IPaaS has helped, but is really only a bandaid. I would hate to be an IPaaS platform 5-10 years from now, as the apps that need to integrate will have developed those integrations.

    I believe marketing tech is a bubble that will burst. I don’t know when that will happen, but I believe we will see a lot of closures, mergers, and acquisitions over the next 3-5 years. I see Zapier getting acquired by somebody like Google or Microsoft. Microsoft’s Flow is a weak contender in the IPaaS front, and Zapier is adding fantastic integrations at a rapid rate. Does Google even have a dog in that fight? I haven’t seen it, if so.There are many IPaaS vendors only just now adding apps that Zapier has had for a couple of years. You’ll see in my attached stack that I have several platforms, but I’m only heavily using Zapier and PieSync.

    It has been a challenge to find a good data warehouse that can truly fit at the central of my stack. Had I used Salesforce, it would be a little different, but considering that I’m using Pipedrive (SAAS), Infinity (local server-based), and Magento as my primary customer repositories, what data warehouse app integrates with those? None, without the help of some IPaaS or even custom development.

    Segment is probably the strongest central database that I could find, and Hull does a phenomenal job of querying Segment and creating customer segments with zero code. I’m in the process of building out an integration between Pipedrive and Segment with a guy on Upwork. We’ll see how that goes. I’m not getting my hopes up until I see it work. If it does, I can get Infinity linked to Hull, and I will find a way to integrate Magento with Segment.

    Once I have my data flowing smoothly into Segment, the next step is to automate the cleansing process. ClearBit seems to have integrations all over the place, now, so they will help. Problem is that ClearBit only works for contacts with email addresses. Experian is a phenomenal product that dedupes, validates, and appends based on names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. They are a manual data cleansing service, for the most part, but they do add code to CRMs and web forms that force the user to enter valid data- slick! I suspect they will add automated cleansing solutions in the near future.

    That is just my use case. I can’t imagine how many others face the same challenge of siloed data across several apps. I see there being a TON of opportunity for consultants to build out app stacks for retail businesses who want to leverage data to market smarter, not harder.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1d96f6bee450f6e1e5e7499015a64f37d4241b3b6e6ba3b43aa8f44b8dfdfb8c.png

  • This is a comment from Tim Berman. I cannot seem to get Disqus to display the original hence reposting…

    Our data is so siloed, at the moment, and I’ve been building out our stack, and adopting automation in the process. While there are many good tools out there, building a stack that integrates _well_ is a totally different proposition from building one that simply integrates. The onset of IPaaS has helped, but is really only a bandaid. I would hate to be an IPaaS platform 5-10 years from now, as the apps that need to integrate will have developed those integrations.

    I believe marketing tech is a bubble that will burst. I don’t know when that will happen, but I believe we will see a lot of closures, mergers, and acquisitions over the next 3-5 years. I see Zapier getting acquired by somebody like Google or Microsoft. Microsoft’s Flow is a weak contender in the IPaaS front, and Zapier is adding fantastic integrations at a rapid rate. Does Google even have a dog in that fight? I haven’t seen it, if so.There are many IPaaS vendors only just now adding apps that Zapier has had for a couple of years. You’ll see in my attached stack that I have several platforms, but I’m only heavily using Zapier and PieSync.

    It has been a challenge to find a good data warehouse that can truly fit at the central of my stack. Had I used Salesforce, it would be a little different, but considering that I’m using Pipedrive (SAAS), Infinity (local server-based), an d Magento as my primary customer repositories, what data warehouse app integrates with those? None, without the help of some IPaaS or even custom development.

    Segment is probably the strongest central database that I could find, and Hull does a phenomenal job of querying Segment and creating customer segments with zero code. I’m in the process of building out an integration between Pipedrive and Segment with a guy on Upwork. We’ll see how that goes. I’m not getting my hopes up until I see it work. If it does, I can get Infinity linked to Hull, and I will find a way to integrate Magento with Segment.

    Once I have my data flowing smoothly into Segment, the next step is to automate the cleansing process. ClearBit seems to have integrations all over the place, now, so they will help. Problem is that ClearBit only works for contacts with email addresses. Experian is a phenomenal product that dedupes, validates, and appends based on names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. They are a manual data cleansing service, for the most part, but they do add code to CRMs and web forms that force the user to enter valid data- slick! I suspect they will add automated cleansing solutions in the near future.

    That is just my use case. I can’t imagine how many others face the same challenge of siloed data across several apps. I see there be ing a TON of opportunity for consultants to build out app stacks for retail businesses who want to leverage data to market smarter, not harder.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1d96f6bee450f6e1e5e7499015a64f37d4241b3b6e6ba3b43aa8f44b8dfdfb8c.png

  • Philip Oakley

    Thanks Manoj, great piece. For the non geek SME I think the challenge, for many, is not knowing where to start and not having a budget for a consultant. How we best address this issue and support these businesses I think is the question.

    • I think you got a valid point there Phil. Comparison sites could play a part, but unfortunately they are biased towards those mature vendors who pay for eyeballs.

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