In today’s world of rapidly evolving, well everything omni-channel, businesses are having to be more agile than ever.
Omni-channel companies are having to stay focused on agility and flexibility to match the quickly evolving preferences of their customers. The ability to rapidly adopt a new application into an existing technology mix, or to swap out one completely for a better alternative, is becoming a competitive advantage. Omni-channel companies that keep their eyes on the prize – being able to stay agile through careful selection of cloud applications and data integration techniques – are winning customers’ dollars time over time.
In this article, we take a look at five popular cloud applications that many businesses use that allow for agility and flexibility in meeting rapidly changing customer expectations. But we also complete the picture in looking at how high-quality, customized data integration is rising in popularity along with these cloud apps, because choosing a great cloud application is an incomplete strategy without integrating it with your systems properly.
Prominently displayed on Netsuite‘s website are the words “The #1 Cloud Business Software Suite”. Supplying fully integrated software suites to over 24,000 organizations, Netsuite fills the SMB need for reliable and robust accounting software, ERP software, CRM software, and ecommerce software – all of which live in the cloud.
Part of the appeal in adopting the Netsuite application suites for SMBs is the built-in agility of the suite itself: by adopting several of Netsuite’s cloud-based applications, a SMB doesn’t have to worry about integrating a Netsuite ERP to a Netsuite CRM, for example. The integrations exist as a part of the holistic Netsuite platform, allowing your business to quickly install new Netsuite applications to be able to respond to changing customer preferences.
But this built-in agility extends only so far as the Netsuite applications, like you will see for the other cloud apps on this list. You now have to rely on Netsuite’s API to integrate other applications.
If your SMB has even one application that’s not properly integrated into the rest of your technology mix, I’m sorry to say but your business isn’t integrated at all at that point. Data integration is all or nothing! Bringing an integration partner like VL, with our cloud-based omni-channel data integration service VL OMNI, will round out your integration needs and ensure that your business’ technology as a whole works together and helps you stay agile.
Infusionsoft has a more niche product offering than Netsuite. Infusionsoft specializes in marketing automation tools for SMBs that are making more than $100,000 per year and have less than 25 employees. Infusionsoft users can select from a suite of interconnected marketing automation tools to create an agile and powerful customer relationship management suite.
Just like Netsuite, Infusionsoft’s various tools are easily integratable with each other, removing some barriers to agility and flexibility. But the same issue arises when looking to integrate Infusionsoft with other, external applications: existing plug-and-play integration products will help you connect to some of your existing applications if you’re lucky, and even at that, those external plug-and-play integrations will only carry your business so far in being agile and responsive to changes and growth.
Handshake is positioned as “the mobile sales and B2B ecommerce platform that helps manufacturers and distributors grow”. Handshake simply allows your business to more efficiently take and manage orders from almost any channel.
Handshake has a prominently featured ‘Integration’ tab on their website, which, at first glance, looks almost like Mecca for any business looking to tie their iteration of Handshake into their existing technology mix. They offer four categories at the top of their Integration page, but when you really read in between the lines, Handshake only offers two integration services: plug-and-play integrations that work with only certain applications (“Turnkey Solutions”), and DIY integrations (“Flexible Web-Services API” which boasts ‘build it yourself!’, and “CSV Import and Export” which is only one step above manual data input). While Handshake does offer implementation services for integration, these specialists appear to be internal to (or outsourced by) Handshake. Be assured that these integration specialists are first and foremost familiar with Handshake. They’re also likely to be familiar with some of the more popular applications out there, but if you’re looking to tie your application stack together into a robust, scalable business machine, you should source a company that specializes in customized data integration services like VL and our VL OMNI service.
ProsperWorks is the simple CRM for Google Apps. Not only is ProsperWorks recommended by Google, but it’s used by Google, too. It’s not surprising, then, when you read that Google is fully integrated with ProsperWorks. This means your gmail for business account and all it’s affiliated applications like Drive, Calendar, and more can be easily tied in to ProsperWorks with minimal effort on the users’ part.
ProsperWorks’ system allows for an uninterrupted CRM and sales process, and allows users to import lists from a wide array of marketing automation platforms. Prosperworks can automatically generate information on those who you reach out to and allows users to see when someone reads your email. It’s a very simple tool to use, but is highly effective in the marketing and sales process. But if you’re looking to push your ProsperWorks data to an application outside of ProsperWork’s API partner network, you’re going to have to look into customized data integration solutions or providers.
Zoho is an entire office suite hosted in the cloud, and includes everything from word processing and spreadsheets, to project management and CRM. Mobile ready and tightly integrated with all Zoho applications, Zoho is the affordable alternative to the once standard Microsoft Office on-premise installation.
Zoho’s API Integration Portal contains a list of SaaS applications that are readily integratable with Zoho as a part of Zoho’s greater API Program. But if you’re looking to integrate an application that is not part of Zoho’s list of readily integratable applications – on premise or otherwise – businesses will have to look elsewhere. Options include third party plug-and-play products, DIY, or engaging a customized data integration specialist. If you’re a regular follower of VL’s blog, you already know what cautions come with the former two options. But if you want to brush up on you reading, you can check out this article, this one, or this one.
Does your business use any of these applications?
Are you looking to integrate them into the rest of your business?
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