By David Rastatter, Senior Director, Product Marketing
If you’ve read about the basics of iPaaS, you know that it can bring some real benefits to your business. And maybe you’re interested in learning more about implementing an iPaaS system into yours. But before we get into iPaaS solutions, let’s also look at some of the challenges.
Common iPaaS use cases
Application integration. This is one of the most common and simple use of iPaaS solutions. By connecting disparate applications—like, say, Marketo and SalesForce—so that individuals don’t have to manually take data from one to the other so you can get the most out of both.
B2B integration. With processes like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), you can streamline and accelerate your interactions and connections with other businesses. Not only does this improve efficiency, but it can also improve your relationships by making things easier for your partners.
Hybrid Cloud integration. Especially for organizations in the process of moving from on-premise infrastructure to cloud or hybrid environments have a lot of complex integrations to create and a lot of data locations and formats to connect. iPaaS can help simplify and accelerate those migrations and transformations.
How to get results from iPaaS solutions
Here are some strategies to make sure your implementation delivers the results that you want from iPaaS.
- Have an integration strategy. As you probably know, iPaaS can help your business in many ways. Streamlining your marketing processes. Accelerating your sales cycle. Having a more complete view of your business. Creating greater clarity for leadership through more holistic analytics.
That’s all exciting! But if you try to do everything at once, it could cause delays, frustration, and difficulties getting the business outcomes that you want from iPaaS. So, define your key goals first. Then set milestones and benchmarks so that you can know what you’re achieving. Then, you’re ready to start.
- Identify what you’re integrating. This applies to both applications that you want to integrate and the data types you want to integrate. Once you’ve identified the applications and information that you need to integrate to achieve your integration goals, you can pick the right platform and set up the right integrations.
- Monitor your iPaaS. Your business will probably change. As it does, you may find that you need to update integrations or bring new applications into your iPaaS environment. Or, as you check your results against your goals, you may be able to expand your iPaaS landscape and take even more advantage of your investment.
Even if your changes don’t affect your iPaaS systems, you still need to keep an eye on all your integrations. Is everything up to date, or are there new modules from your iPaaS provider that you need to install? Are there any planned service outages that you’ll need to be ready for? Is anyone having any trouble with their workflows? Implementing iPaaS isn’t just about the technology, after all. People are the ones who ultimately use it—and benefit from it.
Now that you understand some of the keys for a successful iPaaS implementation, let’s look at some examples of what you could do with iPaaS. There are many possibilities, so the key is choosing the ones that make the most strategic sense for your business.
How Workflow Automation Drives Innovation
Workflow automation is a great way to streamline processes and increase efficiency. It’s also good for workers. But can it also drive business growth and innovation?
Yes! Workflow automation isn’t just about reducing time and effort spent on manual tasks. It can also be a driver for innovation. How? Let’s look at a few angles then talk about how you can implement workflow automation that helps your company become more innovative.
The first aspect is related to what we talked about in our previous blog. Workflow automation fundamentally frees people from doing tasks that are repetitive, tedious, and not adding a lot of real value to the business. Not only do people appreciate being freed from those tasks, but they can do work that’s more important or more creative.
Now, does creativity really benefit the business? A Forrester study found that 82 percent of leaders see a strong connection between creativity and business results. There’s also a strong connection between employees feeling freedom to be creative and liking the workplace.
Plus, innovation needs creativity. New ideas don’t just suddenly appear. They need to be created by people. When people aren’t spending their time doing basic data entry or manually setting up an email campaign, they have more opportunities to discover areas for innovation and generate ideas that can help the business.
A second aspect is process improvement. Workflow automation naturally expedites processes by reducing the need for human intervention, but the act of implementing workflow automation itself can bring improvements to processes.
A lot of any business’s processes tend to emerge organically. For any department, the initial processes by which things are done might not have been thoroughly thought out. Plus, as things change over time, those processes also evolve. This is usually done based on what seems most efficient and sensible at the time, but from a broader perspective, there could be a better way.
So, when you go through the exercise of examining processes that could benefit from workflow automation, you also have the opportunity to identify processes that could benefit from significant overhaul—or even elimination. Even better, you might see places where you could try something entirely new. And that’s innovation!
A third aspect is scalability. Again, any new process that emerges organically is generally based around the people responsible for it. If things grow, they can bring in and train other people, but that necessarily requires time to ramp up, hours spent on training, and the inevitable mistake or two from human error.
Now, if you could automate that workflow, there’s far less limitation on how fast you can scale. So when a pilot program has great success, it’ll be easy to expand it as far as you possibly can.
Keys for Achieving Innovation through Workflow Automation
Okay, now how can you make sure you’re using workflow automation to achieve innovation?
First, define your goals. Innovation is great, but not if it’s just innovation for its own sake. Be sure that you’re aiming to use workflow automation in a way that aligns with some important business objective.
Next, train your people. Yes, workflow automation is supposed to help free them from some of their tasks. But they have to know what’s being automated—or, even better, how they can create their own automations—and what more valuable work they’re then free to focus on. If you want them to bring the most value they can, you need to make sure they know where to focus.
Finally, don’t stop. Just because something has been automated doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Iterating on workflow automations can help get even more out of them—and can help you find new ways to innovate.
No matter where your organization can benefit from workflow automation, you can use it not only to gain efficiency and reduce effort but also to seize opportunities for innovation.
Want to know more? Contact us to learn more about how iPaaS can benefit your business.