Most B2B software companies recognize integrations as critical to their product offerings. Business customers, whose technology ecosystems include an average of 80 SaaS apps, demand integrations with their other apps. They seek to automate workflows, create smooth processes for end users, connect data from multiple sources, and increase productivity.
As business customers' app portfolios continue to grow, so does the expectation for B2B software vendors to provide numerous, robust integrations ranging from simple and standard to complex and configurable. You can only compete by offering integrations as features of your SaaS product.
While integrations are essential, providing them is complex and challenging. Integration teams face the technical challenges of connecting to unfamiliar apps with various integration protocols, data formats, and authorization methods, as well as non-technical challenges such as unclear user requirements, lack of third-party documentation, and the inherent difficulty of collaborating with multiple parties.
Your teams must also test integrations, set up infrastructure, configure them for customer deployment, update them as customer needs and third-party APIs evolve, handle versioning, troubleshoot and fix problems, and provide day-to-day monitoring and support.
As a B2B SaaS company, you need to do all of this at scale, yet most organizations lack the tools and repeatable processes to do so efficiently. Providing integrations is time-consuming and diverts significant R&D capacity away from core product initiatives. And, despite all that time and effort, the resulting integrations often fail to achieve the desired impacts on user experience and customer satisfaction.
Fortunately, an embedded integration platform makes it easier for you to build, deploy, and support integrations between your software product and your customers' other apps.
Using an embedded integration platform for your B2B SaaS integrations can:
- Save developer time
- Help win rate and sales velocity
- Improve your SaaS UX
- Boost customer service
- Reduce customer churn
Speed and innovation are critical for SaaS – not only for going to market with an original app but also for building new features and closing functional gaps with competitors (two things integrations can help you do). But the most significant negative of building integrations from scratch is the sheer amount of engineering time. Here's how an embedded integration platform helps you save dev time:
An embedded integration platform lets your non-engineering teams take on more integration development workload than ever before. Non-devs can build integrations using the low-code capabilities of an embedded integration platform's integration designer.
Devs can further empower integration builders by writing reusable custom connectors that handle industry-specific logic or niche apps. Non-devs then drop these custom connectors into integrations to build what your customers need. And your sophisticated customers can create their own integrations with your product.
A simple deployment environment makes it easy for your onboarding team to configure and deploy integrations for individual customers. Or you could put the power of onboarding into your customers' hands by setting up integrations to be self-activating via an embedded integration marketplace.
Support teams can proactively address and troubleshoot issues with the embedded integration platform's built-in logging and alerting tools. And each customer can perform initial integration diagnostics and troubleshooting.
An embedded integration platform has the necessary infrastructure to run integrations, the integration marketplace to expose them to customers, and all the required tooling to deploy and support those integrations.
You won't need to add infrastructure or infrastructure engineers. Instead, use those resources to support and enhance your core product.
“[Not having to worry about maintenance and scalability] has allowed us to then have engineers focus on other areas of the business, which we believe can deliver even more value."
Adam Jacox, VP Engineering at Hatch (Read the full customer story here.)
Prospect uncertainty is often the most significant factor slowing down sales. If you are selling an off-the-shelf product with a simple setup and configuration, that sale tends to move faster than were you to sell a product with heavy customization and configuration.
Uncertainty also comes into play with integrations. Here's how you can use an embedded integration platform to overcome that and move sales along more quickly:
With an embedded integration platform, you'll quickly be able to close the gap between the integrations you have and the integrations your customers need. From that point, when dealing with prospects, you'll often be able to say, "We have that" when discussing specific integrations.
If you don't have it, you'll be able to build it quickly or give a relatively short timeline for development.
When you use an embedded integration platform to build your integrations, some non-trivial portion of that integration is ready before you start. Depending on the integration, this could be 30%, 50%, or 90% due to the pre-built API connectors, integration designer, and infrastructure.
By talking through the desired integration with your prospect, you should be able to help the prospect define the requirements for a new integration in sufficient detail to lay it out for the contract, thereby keeping the sale moving along and ensuring a win.
If you already have the integration your prospect wants, you are set. If not, you can use the embedded iPaaS to prototype the integration quickly.
The prototype should be functional enough to demonstrate your integration capabilities to the prospect's satisfaction. Then, when the prospect says "Yes," you should be able to refine the prototype into a production-ready integration that can be enabled at onboarding or very shortly after that.
"Prismatic lets us run integrations with our platform with minimum changes to existing infrastructure and lets us come up with prototypes and experiments faster."
Volodymyr D., G2 Reviewer
A customer or prospect almost always wants an app to do more – even if that additional functionality doesn't align with the app's purpose. But, addressing needed functionality via an integration could move that deal back into the win column.
You can't overstate the importance of user experience (UX) for SaaS products. If users can't easily find the information they need, complete the tasks they need, or configure the product to meet their processes, they won't stick around.
Here are a few ways that using an embedded integration platform can lead to an excellent UX for your customers:
Integrations often suffer because they are relegated to the "when we get around to it" development queue.
Embedded integration platforms include an integration designer (and a long list of API connectors and other components) that make building reusable, productized integrations for your app faster. They also include an embedded integration marketplace that displays your integration offerings to your users.
In short, you can establish your integrations as essential product functionality rather than separate add-ons.
"We're able to deliver a solution that is a premium product, reduces frictionful business workflows, and the quality of the integrations is second to none."
Chris Rallis, Director of Software at Raven Industries (Read the full customer story here.)
As part of the embedded marketplace experience, let customers browse the marketplace and then choose and self-activate integrations – without requiring hand-holding from your engineering, onboarding, or support teams.
Then let your customers configure the integrations and set up webhooks, auth, and folders – whatever options need to be defined uniquely for each customer.
Finally, self-serve support tools such as logging, monitoring, and alerting put users in the driver's seat instead of making them depend on support anytime the integration has a hiccup.
Today's SaaS apps must have flexibility; nowhere is that more true than with integrations. Integrations, by definition, tie two or more apps or systems together for data exchange. Vendors can change an API anytime, a new law could require additional fields on specific record types, and customers' appetites for data keep increasing.
An embedded integration platform encourages best practices for building integrations that can be constantly refined and updated to meet changing customer, technical, and legal requirements.
Effective customer service provides enormous value to a SaaS business: it can improve customer satisfaction, lead to referrals, and increase customer retention. It can also give insight into customer requests, problems, and usage patterns that can guide your product roadmap.
Yet customer service is one of the hardest things to do well consistently. Here are some ways an embedded integration platform can boost customer service for your integrations:
Customer service benefits in two ways from leveraging an embedded integration platform's purpose-built infrastructure for native integrations:
- First, your engineers and support personnel aren't spending time on integration infrastructure (handling all the upgrades, security patches, and backups).
- Second, using the infrastructure provided by the embedded integration platform (with resources to manage a nearly unlimited number of integrations) substantially reduces integration problems in production and associated customer service requests, compared to deploying integrations on infrastructure built in-house.
An embedded integration platform shifts much of the day-to-day integration onboarding and support functions to non-engineers. The platform is an accessible, centralized repository for integration info so that customer-facing teams can answer customer questions without consulting devs.
Configurable monitoring alerts the appropriate teams when an integration encounters an error or doesn't run when expected. Built-in logging makes it easy to dig in and troubleshoot. Customer-facing teams can easily handle everyday needs like updating outdated credentials, tweaking a configuration, or upgrading to a newer version of an integration.
"The low code environment of the integration platform has been instrumental in facilitating the efficient construction and maintenance of integrations, requiring minimal technical knowledge."
Panagiotis T., G2 Reviewer
Traditional integration development often leaves your customers with little to no insight into the integrations: which ones are available, how they work, how they're configured, how to determine if the integration is working correctly, and what (if anything) a customer can do when issues arise.
An embedded integration platform eases the load on your teams by enabling customers to perform many tasks traditionally handled by support. Customers can search and view available integrations using an in-app integration marketplace and then self-activate them. They can also enter and update their credentials and other config options. And finally, customers can set up monitoring to receive alerts about integration state and actions and then view integration logs to perform initial issue troubleshooting.
Getting a new customer is half the battle. Hanging on to them is the other half. Understanding customer churn for SaaS apps is key to keeping it from getting out of hand. Here are some ways that using an embedded integration platform for your integrations can help with churn:
If your customers rely on your product to orchestrate their daily workflows, that's the very definition of stickiness. A product with multiple integrations to your customers' other apps, enabled by an embedded integration platform, becomes deeply ingrained in their day-to-day operations. Your product has become essential: eliminating redundant data entry, automating tasks users need to complete in other systems, providing access to data from other sources, and making it easier to share information.
An embedded integration platform includes all the tools necessary to provide customers with an end-to-end integration experience that moves those integrations from afterthoughts to essential product functionality. And at every step of the process, you can involve your customers, making them essential participants.
"Customer retention and annual revenue per user or subscription, both of those have significantly changed since we've got the Prismatic embeddable solution baked into our product. Our churn month over month has gone down, I'd say, almost 3%."
Frank Felice, CRO at Sisu Software (Read the full customer story here.)
Another way to increase stickiness is to help customers notice and appreciate the value they receive from your product, making it easier to justify the cost. You can provide significant additional value to your customers with native integrations, and an in-app integration marketplace helps to highlight that value. This integration marketplace, typically white-labeled and embedded into the product, features lists of available integrations and access to self-service integration tools for enabling, monitoring, and troubleshooting integrations.
Stickiness increases further when customers recognize that it would be difficult to switch to a different product while retaining all the benefits they currently rely on. For your customer, leaving a product with multiple integrations means removing not just that app but also a hub of their technology ecosystem and all the connected workflows it powers. Finding another vendor with a product comparable to yours, plus the ability to provide all of those integrations, and then working with the vendor to recreate all the integrations and related workflows, represents a high switching cost involving considerable effort and disruption.
Providing customers with software integrations is essential for most B2B software companies, but it is challenging, time-consuming, and costly. An embedded integration platform allows you to address real-world integration needs while building, deploying, and supporting B2B integrations with tools expressly intended for those tasks.
Schedule a demo to see how Prismatic's embedded integration platform could transform your integration approach and help you realize substantial benefits for you and your customers.
Prismatic is the integration platform for B2B software companies. It's the quickest way to build integrations to the other apps your customers use and to add a native integration marketplace to your product. A complete embedded iPaaS solution that empowers your whole organization, Prismatic encompasses an intuitive integration designer, embedded integration marketplace, integration deployment and support, and a purpose-built cloud infrastructure. Prismatic was built in a way developers love and provides the tools to make it perfectly fit the way you build software.
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