The Curious World of Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS)

Matt McClintock June 18, 2019 Digital Transformation

iPaas

The consolidation and integration of technologies serves to improve efficiency and reduce bottlenecks for consumers, the enterprise, and everything in between.
Imagine if you had to use a dozen email clients that could only send emails to that specific client? Sending emails would be a very time consuming and inefficient process as you logged into one email client after another with no way to track all of your outbound emails in one place. Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) solves that simple example on a grander scale and whether it is enterprise or consumer-focused, the complexity of the integration(s) can range massively.
For example, an enterprise may want to consolidate all of its many software systems, such as ERP, CRM, and DMS, for greater insight into how their overall business works. This is where business intelligence can come in and help the enterprise make data-driven decisions that affect all aspects of their business. For example, many companies may see data gleaned from an iPaaS solution to re-architect their infrastructure from legacy systems, point solutions, and custom integration code, and move it to a particular deployment.
An iPaaS solution geared for the enterprise can connect these systems, but connecting them is where it ends. To get these systems to work together to advance the efficiency of their daily processes, a business process management (BPM) solution is required. Integrating systems is one thing, orchestrating the work the systems and people who use them is another matter entirely.
As iPaaS continues to mature, it could very well begin to merge with other solutions that extend systems once they are integrated. Be it system integrators (SIs), ISVs, or new technologies that make software and those that use it more efficient, they will be ripe for the consolidation that iPaaS provides. Workflow seems to be the ideal space for this but further, there is an entire market in software tooling where iPaaS can play an increasingly larger role.
So what does this mean? iPaaS can solve more problems than it currently does – and – it will. The market for enterprise software tooling, particularly related to microservices, containers, and cloud in general, is a billion-dollar market that is growing exponentially. iPaaS solutions will continue to emerge to solve the integration needs of these companies that are more system focused that human-focused. RPA can play a role here as can BPM.

Where is iPaaS going?

It seems to be going very quickly to the low code / no-code space also known as DIY, or do-it-yourself. Even some of the most complex workflows for the enterprise can be solved by business analysts designing applications and solutions using low or no code whatsoever. This empowers analysts and SMEs across the enterprise to build solutions to problems they would typically rely on IT to solve.
Mulesoft is a major iPaaS enterprise player worth mentioning. Zapier is a far more consumer-focused iPaaS solution but also has an enterprise flavor. There are also solutions like Microsoft Flow and IFTTT.com that all aim to connect apps and systems, typically for a specific purpose. For example, these solutions can be used to retweet anything with a certain hashtag or send an email based on certain conditions. While these solutions are growing in terms of the functionality they offer, the market isn’t mature enough for full adoption by the enterprise.
As iPaaS moves more in a low code / no code direction, the challenge will be to convince stakeholders within the enterprise that even the most complex workflow challenges can be solved simply. That one point of conflict seems to be what is keeping the majority from crossing the chasm. It seems too good to be true to simply turn a piece of software over to a business analyst to solve your companies biggest problems without a single line of code. However, it is now a reality and the complexity of challenges these low code solutions can solve will only grow. As low code iPaaS matures, it will involve more and more functionality overlapping with workflow technologies such as business process management, robotic process automation, and workflow automation.
This isn’t just about acronyms and technology. As the advent of the franchise changed American and global business forever, much like the Internet, the advent of iPaaS will lead to the next evolution: consolidation and integration. Although the term “integration” sounds complicated in and of itself, it will only serve to benefit everyone – the development community, users, businesses, and systems. Don’t resist integration. Embrace it. Just remember one thing. Integration is only useful if you approach it with efficiency in mind.

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