Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS): What It Is and Why You Need One

-Maggie Cameron, Director of Product Management

“Nonprofits are years behind innovation.”

“Associations are slow to change or adopt new technology. “

“Unless you’re in technology, you don’t get technology.”

We’ve all heard it all before. People both inside and outside our space are quick to jump on nonprofits for a perceived lack of innovation. Nonprofit budgets are smaller, organizations run leaner, and you often can’t make the kinds of large-scale investments in software, infrastructure and data management as other, more consumer-focused companies.

But things are changing, and (as you know) they’re changing fast. Cloud-based apps, smartphones and the Internet of Things have made technology more accessible than ever and more often than not we’re hearing from organizations who are no longer struggling with a lack of technology – they have too much. Your Meetings team is on one platform for event registration. Marketing is on another for email campaigns. Sales is tracking prospects somewhere else. And Membership has to keep track of everyone in a database – but Finance uses a specific accounting software for balancing the books. And for some reason, another team is tracking everything on a series of spreadsheets.

Your organization has invaluable customer data and actionable insights – spread across disparate systems. Your IT team is overwhelmed with internal requests to generate reports, upload data, merge records, clean up bad data. Why can’t all of these applications just talk to each other?

Your organization needs a single source of truth for your data, but you also need the flexibility to allow your teams to use their specialized best-of-breed tools. Now, building connections between different systems can be hard to accomplish with a traditional architecture. The legacy approach of creating direct connections between unrelated touchpoints is simply too complex. Microservices, IoT devices, business SaaS applications and databases (legacy or not) might operate on different business logic and may not have been built to work together.

Sound familiar? Nonprofits often want to take advantage of what’s new but struggle to make do with old technology too expensive to replace. If this is the situation your team is finding themselves in, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) can not only help manage these connections but give you the scale you need to grow.

iPaaS offers of a set of cloud-based tools enabling teams to manage and integrate various applications and services from across their organization. iPaaS platforms simplify integrations, often coming pre-configured with many commonly used business applications and a low setup cost.  Other benefits of iPaaS include:

  • Ease: Having all connections in one place streamlines the process of managing integrations and querying them when you’re looking for something specific.
  • Lowers Cost: iPaaS reduces costs by allowing organizations to quickly test new applications and switch them out if they’re not providing value.
  • Flexibility: Empowers end users by letting them use the technologies they want to use to do their jobs
  • Transparency: Connecting systems and applications of value across the organization ensures a total view of a constituent’s engagement with your organization.

But wait! I’ve already integrated my systems! I have APIs!

While APIs are a great place to start, an iPaaS solution can provide real value. Not all APIs are the same. APIs will be different depending on who creates them, when they’re created and the scenario for which they were written. And, often times organizations who have built API integrations must shoulder the burden of maintaining their integrations – which just like infrastructure and hardware, can be costly and time-consuming.

Using an iPaaS makes the data consistent and readable, regardless of the system, application or API on the receiving end. Pushing these APIs through a single platform completely removes inconsistency for internal employees and partners. And, eliminating inconsistency yields one additional (big) benefit: speed.

In a report, “How Pervasive Integration Enables your API Initiatives (and Vice Versa),” technology analyst Gartner finds that “Anecdotal evidence from Gartner clients’ experience suggests that by using an integration platform, time to value for integration logic can be reduced by up to 75% versus custom coding.”

IT teams can leverage iPaaS to control the entire API and integration lifecycle – from creation to publishing, management and measurement – on the same, secure platform. You’ll be hearing more from us about the power of iPaaS and the benefits it can bring to your organization but in the meantime, learn more about our iPaaS solution, Personify Hub, here.

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