The most effective way for businesses to achieve digital transformation in Industry 4.0 is to integrate various systems, cloud apps, and SaaS solutions such as e-commerce platforms, PIM, CRM, POS, WMS systems, and ERP systems. To integrate multiple such systems or apps while ensuring real-time data exchange, modern businesses are implementing a next-gen middleware solution called the iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service). While the iPaaS helps businesses integrate multiple applications and data sources from one central cloud-based platform, it also provides several other essential integration features that help fulfill various business use cases. As such, it helps seamlessly connect third-party apps or business partners across data formats such as EDI and cXML. But most importantly, the iPaaS enables real-time data exchange and business process automation. This blog explores 7 key use cases that the iPaaS helps businesses across industries with.
Discover the 7 use cases of the iPaaS
Creating application integrations is one part of the story, how you manage, monitor, and add new integrations is the main part of the challenge. For instance, integrations created by custom code can only be understood or monitored by senior developers or professionals with coding expertise. On the other hand, integrations created by plugins increase your third-party dependency when looking to modify or troubleshoot your integrations. The more software connections you add with custom code, the more data silos get created and the more tangled your IT landscape is likely to become.
As an alternative solution, the iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) as a cloud-based low-code or no-code middleware. It is designed to provide a more holistic way to create, manage, and monitor integrations from one platform. In fact, one of the reasons why agencies and system integrators use an iPaaS is because it helps simplify, speed up and future-proof the development and management of integrations. However, unlike with plugins or point-to-point custom integrations, the iPaaS provides advanced integration features that enable various use cases. This helps businesses go beyond merely integrating applications and orchestrate entire data ecosystems from one user-friendly web interface.
For busiensses businesses looking to accelerate their digital transformation and automate business processes, the iPaaS helps them fulill the following 7 use cases:
Integrate two or multiple systems
Centralize Integrations on one platform
Connect relations via EDI, cXML, and JSON
Migrate old systems to new
Automate business processes
Create data insights for BI, ML & AI
Monitoring (quality hub)
1. Swiftly integrate two or multiple systems
As a cloud-based, low-code or no-code integration platform, the iPaaS provides a user-friendly web interface that allows businesses to develop, govern, and orchestrate software integrations, with minimal IT support. It enables the adoption of API-driven business strategies and integration ithemerging technologies like AI and Machine Learning.
As an API-driven solution, the iPaaS helps integrate multiple systems, SaaS, applications, or data sources, without custom code. In other words, where you once needed senior developers to create and manage software integrations with custom code, the iPaaS simplifies the integration process. It enables data experts, junior developers, or non-coding business users to do the same by clicking through an intuitive dashboard.
This frees senior developers to focus on developing new cutom solutions that require their expertise, enabling companies to grow their integrations with minimal IT support. By making all the data between your connected systems visible and accessible on one intuitive dashboard, the iPaaS allows project managers, customers, and developers to quite literally be on the same page while planning integrations.
Some essential applications that an iPaaS helps retailers and manufacturers integrate include ERP systems, e-commerce platforms, PIM, CRM, WMS, Marketing Automation systems, and other cloud apps. Centralizing all integrations and data on one secure and scalable cloud platform, the iPaaS helps seamlessly add or interchange software connections without losing data integrity.
How an iPaaS helps when integrating 2 or more systems:
Visible tools to create, manage and fix integrations yourself
Connectors (or pre-built integrations) to connect popular software faster
Automatic logging and monitoring features
Performance, scalability and compliance
2. Centralize integrations on one platform
Avoid data silos by centralizing all your integrations via one platform. Create a future-proof, compliant, and secure IT landscape for connecting data & software integrations. Centralize data security and enable privacy compliance.
The iPaaS helps businesses organize all their system integrations or software connections from one central platform. This helps eliminate data silos that result from various point-to-point integrations, created and managed via multiple integration partners. But most importantly, it enables real-time data exchange and synchronization across the IT landscape. Companies, agencies, or systems integrators can therefore use the iPaaS as a central tool, to add, replace or interchange cloud applications or software solutions to their IT landscape without any loss of data integrity. The iPaaS dashboard provides a holistic visual overview of all data flows, holistic data insights, and a variety of integration tools, which can be used to transform data and automate workflows.
The current situation for many organizations is that their software is only partly connected for some critical data sets, for example, e-commerce or ERP systems, but this certainly does not cover all areas of a business. Furthermore, the customer does not care that you use multiple pieces of software for different activities online, they want a short and seamless journey. The iPaaS helps build a coherent ecosystem and a complete overview of all your connected software, helping unify all the essential parts of a business’s IT landscape.
Some of the key benefits of an iPaaS that helps businesses develop a fast, flexible, and future-proof IT landscape, include:
Complete control over your data and integrations
Automated monitoring and logging to detect integration errors in real-time
Enabling caching of data to ensure business continuity
Streamlining external & internal workflows
Unlocking data silos and delivering key data insights across connections
Latest security standards and compliance with data privacy regulations
3. Connect customers and suppliers
Looking to setup a connection via cXML? Does your organization wish to digitalize processes by creating file-to-file connections between your IT software and business partners or suppliers? You can use the Message Broker features of the Alumio iPaaS to control this process yourself.
Most businesses revolve around trading partner relationships and customer connections. However, the challenge of integrating customers and suppliers is that their data is stored in different file formats. For example, XML or cXML (commerce eXtensible Markup Language) is a language protocol that’s designed to facilitate B2B data exchange. Apart from integrating any system, software or application, the iPaaS also allows you to map data across many file formats such as JSON, Edifact, X12, CSV, XML, and cXML. This helps you seamlessly integrate and facilitate data exchange between suppliers, partners, and manufacturers. This helps eliminate data silos and makes it easy to obtain holistic, real-time data insights across your business ecosystem.
How an iPaaS helps connect relations and digitize business processes:
Use visual mappings tools to connect data formats like EDI, cXML, XML, JSON, CSV
Work with authentication formats such as AS2, SFTP, SSH, HotFolders, REST, Soap, and mail
Get automatic logging and monitoring features
4. ETL: migrate & import data
When connecting different systems, importing and migrating data from one source to the other is still needed for many use cases. The traditional way to carry out data migration involves using ETL (Extract Transform Load) software. Apart from enabling real-time data exchange, the iPaaS also presents a more holistic set of techniques for data migration, making it the next-gen successor for ETL tools.
As the name suggests, data migration involves moving data from one point to another without any data loss and minimal recreation of data. As a cloud-based integration solution, the ideal iPaaS supports data migration from on-premise systems, regardless of the operating system. The iPaaS helps unlock and unify data from legacy systems, and helps companies migrate the overload of data and accounts, contacts, and opportunities quickly and precisely, ensuring consistency in the data within the new system.
The iPaaS can include custom fields and data objects in the data migration process. Providing real-time access to data stored in all applications and locations, the iPaaS can easily migrate or integrate data from a file or various systems. At the same time, it can account for schema and other data modeling considerations. It can combine different data objects and data sources while providing features to transform data if needed. It is also equipped with effective data governance capabilities, providing a user-friendly dashboard to measure data quality, data profiling, and metadata management. Furthermore, the iPaaS provides connectors via standard protocols such as RestAPI, GraphQL, and SOAP, to simplify and speed up integrations and data migration.
How an iPaaS helps migrate or import data:
Map data objects as XLS, CSV, XML, cXML, JSON
Combine and transform data flexibly
Store data temporarily
Import from and to FTP, sFTP, API, web services, databases, etc.
Upgrade single import or migration scripts (configurations) to real-time connections
Get monitoring alerts that detect data errors or API conflicts
Access the Alumio platform as a real-time active streaming service that keeps running
As digitalization rapidly evolves, the only way or businesses to keep up is to optimize and automate business processes. Replacing manual, repetitive tasks prone to human error is becoming significantly more manageable through the integration of software or cloud applications that automate these tasks.
By enabling businesses to build complex workflows across all integrated applications, the iPaaS helps streamline and automate repetitive manual processes such as mails to systems, excel work, invoice processing, hiring & onboarding, inventory management, payroll or customer support, and many other processes.
RPA or Robotic Process Automation involves software that uses robot (A.I.) workers to automate rule-based, manual, and repetitive tasks on an interface that a human worker would usually work on. For example, RPA could automate chatbots to deliver human-like responses on live chat support to objective questions. It could also automate a wide variety of other tasks such as data entry, data validation, invoice processing, and updating user information. The iPaas can help businesses seamlessly integrate RPA software to boost business automation.
How else can the iPaaS help automate processes using robotic software? Here’s some examples of tools that implement robotic software to automate business processes, which an iPaaS can help integrate with other systems:
Software that automatically sends Excel files to an API
OCR (Optical Character Recognition) - digitalizing hand-written text
IoT sensors, like heating sensors, sensors for automatic doors that are closed, etc.
Videos can all be used to trigger a process
Integrating robotic applications helps companies save significant time, money, and resources by automating high-volume or time-bound tasks. Automation through robotic software and creating workflows with an iPaaS also results in excellent customer satisfaction. Apart from automating processes and providing real-time data insights, it allows businesses to combine different services into one holistic customer experience.
How the iPaaS and RPA can trigger automation together
One scenario in which the iPaaS and RPA can work together to automate processes is invoicing. It is common for invoices to come through various channels and to be converted to the desired format.
For instance, invoices sent by paper are digitized using OCR software, and invoices sent by email in PDF are converted via intelligent software to a digital format (JSON), which are then sent to the API of an iPaaS. These digitized invoices are then matched to purchase orders and often need to be approved by different people for payment. Using the iPaaS** you can implement RPA applications to create effective workflows, which can help automate the sending of invoices to the right person for approval. You can also automate the PO-matching process to mark any errors for further review before submitting the payment.
That’s just one example. Consider all the data entry and manual processing involved in accounting and finance. There are significant use cases for RPA which makes it a good starting point for many organizations attempting automation.
How the iPaaS helps you to automate business processes and upscale successfully:
Connect Excel and XML files out of the box
Add logic to data to create business process
Build workflows across integrated systems
Create notifications based on data and events
**Note: not all iPaaS systems have the ability to send actions to people based upon data. Many iPaaS systems (like Alumio) offer an API that allows developers/ organizations to create such interfaces.
6. Create data insights & data lakes for BI, ML, & AI
The ability to take data - understand, process and extract value from it, then visualize and communicate it for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence purposes – will be an essential service in the decades to come.
In order to effectively use data, it has to be extracted from all connected systems without data silos and blackboxes. Thus, it is also necessary to organize an an IT landscape where all connected systems communicate with each other and data is able to abstract from one central hub. That’s where an iPaaS comes in.
Being aware of the importance of software integrations, API connectivity, data, and AI is essential for a business to upscale. Performance is essential for integrations. A data lake allows businesses to store all their structured and unstructured data at any scale. The iPaaS helps organizations generate business value from their data and provides 360-degree data insights across all integrations.
The iPaaS is developed for:
Centralization of integrations
Making data available
Setting up combined data flows to multiple connections
Performance for unlimited scalability
Business process design
The future of technology is AI and Machine Learning, which are incredibly dependent on holistic data access. Therefore, apart from helping you integrate with any software or system, the ability of the iPaaS to centralize and normalize data across all the connected systems and software in your IT landscape, is what makes it future-proof.
Here's how the iPaaS helps you to create a data lake or to be ready for BI, ML, and AI:
Adds connected data to storages
Enables common data entity feature to normalize data
Join data streams with mappers
Use our connectors to integrate data lake tools like redshift, Azure, sql etc.
7. Monitoring (quality hub) for current and new integrations
How can companies monitor several application integrations, created via different technical solutions, running at the same time? The iPaaS helps organize all integrations on one platform. It provides robust monitoring and logging features that give you a complete overview of all your connected software on one platform.
As mentioned, the iPaaS provides a central integration platform through which you can centrally execute, govern and orchestrate your integrations and data, via a user-friendly interface. Therefore, one of the key aspects of an iPaaS is its dashboard and the monitoring features that it provides.
The dashboard of the iPaaS provides a complete real-time overview of all your working integrations, failed integrations, export logs, import logs, and disk space. It also provides a detailed overview of all data routes, which are responsible for moving data entities from one connected system to another. For example, when integrating an ERP to an e-commerce, you can use the iPaaS to create the data-route ‘Prices’ to receive price updates from the ERP within the e-commerce platform.
Additionally, by providing you with holistic logging information on all your integrations, the iPaaS helps instantly detect integration errors and identify its cause. It also gives you real-time updates on systems that are down or not able to cope with the data that’s being pushed to them. Thus, the monitoring dashboard of the iPaaS helps you stay one step ahead of integration errors, helping you create effective tweaks and improvements to your integrations to prevent roadblocks.
How the iPaaS helps monitor your (current and new) integrations:
Delivering a Proxy feature to use for old, current integrations
Automatic logging and monitoring features
Notification features & cockpit
Temporary data storage
The iPaaS has successfully established itself as a leading next-gen middleware for application integrations. However, it also caters to various use cases to help businesses create a future-proof IT landscape. The iPaaS helps companies centralize all their integrations on one platform. It helps connect customer data across different formats. It enables nables effective data migration. And, it present an overview and control over all connected systems and data via one user-friendly interface.
For information on the benefits and use cases that the Alumio iPaaS offers, read our iPaaS guide.
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