Looking for an iPaaS strategy

Looking for an iPaaS strategy

Thursday, December 14, 2017Lindsay Hampson
IT leaders are divided into two camps: those looking for an integration strategy, and those looking to improve upon their current integration platform.  
 
After informally polling IT leaders during the #GartnerAPPS summit early December in Las Vegas, I uncovered common priorities and obstacles encountered when looking for an integration solution.   
 
When implementing an API strategy in 2018 and beyond, there is nothing more important to IT than making legacy systems seamlessly connect to APIs and EDI trading partners.      
 
Integration is rarely IT’s main job. 

“I understand processes and data, and the business.  IT is valuable in the new digital business age.  But, I’m not always the one provisioning new business apps.”  
 
However, Central IT needs integration tools when making an application, trying to get data to an application purchased by a department head, needing to move data, migrating data, or when connecting to another business (B2B) such as trading partners using EDI.  But, they don't have the time to develop point-to-point data flow maps.  
 
What problems does IT face today?  
1. While historically all software was licensed by IT, departmental apps today are commonly provisioned without IT
 
Think about how many apps and systems are used by employees today.  Core applications used by the business are almost always siloed, don’t have APIs, or there is simply a large technology debt at the company.  
 
A great example of a siloed application is Shopify, an eCommerce app.  Often IT hears after the fact that their eCommerce team bought Shopify.  But, now it is IT’s job to seamlessly flow information between it and their legacy ERP in the back office. 

“I need to figure out how to get my ERP data to my B2B partners.” “My eCommerce team bought BigCommerce.  How do I get data in and out of it?”  The business wants and needs adaptive integration.
 
Shopify is just one siloed application, too.  I’d wager a bet that your company has many, many more of these rogue apps in use.  
 
Business users in marketing, finance, sales, etc. are no longer waiting for Central IT to enlist software.  So they go ahead and buy apps.  Then they turn to IT to deploy processes to get data in and out. 
 
2. All companies are looking for cloud now.  But key legacy systems are often on prem.  
 
A cloud-first strategy is the new normal.  But, it must be thoughtful enough to consider how it will connect to back-office, on-prem systems.    
 
IT leaders also need to “keep lights on for legacy or boat anchor applications.” While doing so, they need to find a way to service-enable the ERP.  One attendee of #GartnerAPPS said, “We need to keep legacy systems, like our Sage ERP, but my new job is to figure out how to service-enable it.” 

Your integration strategy should match your digital ambitions through 2020. 
 
3. Building systems that can change.
 
The way consumers want to buy today will be different in 2020.  IT leaders need to set up a hybrid integration platform that loops in ‘boat anchor’ systems of record, but is open enough to add new APIs as customer engagement ebbs and flows through the years.  Gartner Research proposes that a Hybrid Integration Platform (HIP) is the answer.  A true HIP provides API and EDI mediation that can support hybrid capabilities. 
 
Carnival Cruise recently enabled 'commerce wearables' for their passengers with help from ElasticPath.  There are countless ways you can interact with your passenger at the exact moment they are ready to purchase a cabanna, book an excursion or plan their next cruise.  
 
By building a hybrid integration platform that can change with consumer trends, you can leverage what you’ve built and still be prepared for future commerce APIs.  Customer endpoints are exploding.  The way people want to buy will forever be changing.  This is evident with the arrival and success of Headless Commerce engines, like ElasticPath.  
 
4. Dealing with consumer disruption.
 
Zara fast fashion was many clothing merchants worst enemy.  Instead of processing 3 or 4 inventory turns a year, they had to start processing 12 to 24 a year.  Why?  Their customers’ demands shifted.  If they didn’t accommodate, they’d be left to die on the vine. 

Your customers demand you disrupt – they need a digital business for customer experiences.  
 
Data, System, B2B, Mobile and App integration can be achieved with an iPaaS
An iPaaS  (integration Platform as a Service) is a great place to start a hybrid integration strategy.  Find a vendor that can plug into your integration strategy, and connect to both prem and SaaS applications, as well as B2B partners, via EDI.  
 
There is no better time to enable an iPaaS. 
 
What to look for in an iPaaS? 
You can do great things for your business with an integration platform that is a partner to IT.  
 
These were the top iPaaS benefits or features sought after by those IT leaders polled at #GartnerAPPs: 
1. Ease of use
2. Open 
3. Cloud 
4. Connect legacy ERP systems that are prem and saas 
5. Seamless connectivity of data, systems and apps, trading partners and B2B, cloud, mobile, and even things (ie: IOT) through API or EDI 
6. Adaptors and connectors that are ready to go
7. Prepackaged flows 
8. Rapid deployment over functionality (shorter time to value)
9. Systems are not the bottleneck
10. Can handle thousands of transactions 
11. A highly versatile platform 
 
Now what?  
Digital business is business as usual.  This is where things are going. 
 
  1. IT leaders need a platform that opens ERPs up to accept info from EDIs + APIs.  
     
  2. IT leaders need to enable connected backend systems to trading partners (via EDI) and to digital retail, traditional retail, shipping apps, CRMs, and more.  
     
  3. IT leaders need to empower departments to flow info to and from their siloed functional applications like Amazon, Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, ShipStation, ebay, Woocommerce, and more.  
     
Because there is nothing more important to IT then making legacy systems seamlessly connect to APIs and EDI trading partners, now is the time to educate yourself in the iPaaS market.  

Start planning an integration blueprint for your legacy ERP to customer endpoints today.  

Thanks for reading.
 
More on eBridge Connections
eBridge Connections seamlessly flows orders to cash.  Their integration platform makes things WAY easier for IT and for those utilizing a hybrid application with the goal to flow data back to legacy systems.  Their iPaaS is cloud first, and open – and it connect to systems, data, and apps that are prem or SaaS.  Endpoints - where your  customer wants to interact for purchase – are possible to connect with using our open API.  eBridge Connections can handle lots of transactional volume too.  “Usually endpoints are the bottleneck, but eBridge can handle thousands of transactions.” Plus, we enable IT to use a system that can change.  Plus, your departments can 'do it themselves' in some cases.  We have 24 years of experience with southbound and northbound integrations, and are keen ERP and Finance subject matter experts.  Our clients range from B2B merchants selling instore, to digital retailers to businesses with a hybrid strategy that will change and adapt over time to include state of the art consumer buying points via API.  We'd love to connect with you!