If you've worked within a team or company environment long enough, you know what happens when people and departments don't talk to each other. Time, money and effort are often wasted, confusion generally occurs, and the best product or service is rarely delivered to the client.
The same things happen if you have different tech solutions and they aren't integrated or communicating properly, which is why software integration is critical for success. An Aberdeen Research study, for example, notes an ERP system that integrates solutions across all processes increases order speed by 23 percent and increase order accuracy substantially.
Here are five software integration trends to watch in 2018:
1. Increased Integration of API-Backed Processes
API-driven applications allow streamlined functionality. From simple APIs that support functions like kicking off Google calendar events when signing up for a webinar to more complex interfaces that allow customer service reps to manage entire order processes from a single screen, APIs are critical when adding new functions to existing infrastructure.
APIs aren't new, but ever-increasing capabilities in this area will continue to support faster, more capable integrations.
2. More Reliance on iPaaS
Organizations will need a way to manage increasingly complex, cloud infrastructures. In 2017, the average enterprise was using an abundance of cloud services across every major functional category: 91 on average in marketing, 60 in finance, 37 to support productivity and over 90 for tech processes.
An Integration Platform as a Service, or iPaaS, solution like MuleSoft lets organizations more easily connect disparate applications by creating connections through prebuilt integrations.
3. Continued Development and Disruption in E-Commerce
In 2017, e-commerce accounted for about 10 percent of the retail sales revenue in the United States, and that number increases by around 15 percent each year. But e-commerce is a disruptive force across the entire retail industry, and the trends and tech deployed online actually influence over half the purchases consumers make in brick-and-mortar establishments, too. Some key continued developments in the ecommerce space that rely heavily on software integration include:
- The ability to personalize, which is being leveraged by companies such as Sephora and IKEA to drive online sales and brand loyalty
- Virtual reality apps that help customers engage more with products, services and experiences
- Bots and automations that drive efficiencies in customer service
- Artificial intelligence that analyzes customer trends and behavior to serve up the best possible product recommendations
4. Mobile and Real-Time Integration in Retail
Disruption isn't occurring solely in the online space; brick-and-mortar retailers aren't yet down for the count, and they're fighting back with the help of software integrations that allow real-time and mobile customer service alongside traditional retail practices. The result is a growing reliance on omnichannel marketing.
One way in which software integration is critical to omnichannel success is by supporting click-and-collect services. Customers choose and buy products online and then pick them up in the store the same day. The number of integrations required just to manage the browsing, payment and inventory processes for a single transaction are astounding.
5. Continued Increase in Outsourcing
The number of integrations required to drive effective, efficient processes and keep up with the competition is growing daily. Internal IT organizations that aren't already struggling to keep up are likely to hit that wall in the near future. As ever-speedier market evolution requires increasing rates of change, businesses need to integrate solutions to more effectively drive customer acquisition and retention. With the tech-heavy nature of these integrations, it's likely driving new partnerships between in-house IT departments and system integration vendors.
Overall, though, software integrations are only effective if the systems they're connecting are built and managed well, too. If you or your team is looking for help supporting, developing, or integrating one or more applications, contact us!