Ranked #1 Best Cloud Service Provider in the Netherlands 2024!
iPaaS
10 min read

Discover the 7 use cases of the iPaaS

Written by
Published on
May 24, 2022

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 applicactions 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 is a cloud-based, API-led solution that helps integrates multiple third-party applications and data sources, it provides several other essential integration features to enable several business use cases. It enables real-time data exchange and worfklow automation, and it also helps connect business partners and trade relations across data formats such as EDI and cXML. This blog explores 7 key use cases that the iPaaS helps faciliate for businesses across industries.

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 entangled your IT landscape is likely to become.

As a next-gen solution, the iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) is a cloud-based or cloud-native, low-code or no-code, API-led 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 iPaaS solutions is because it helps dramatically simplify and speed up the development and management of integrations. Developed to transcend the limitations of plug-in based integrations or point-to-point, custom coded integrations, the iPaaS provides advanced integration features that enables a wide variety of business use cases. This helps businesses go beyond merely integrating applications and helps them orchestrate entire, process automation ecosystems from one user-friendly web interface.

For businesses looking to accelerate their digital transformation and automate processes, the iPaaS helps them fulfill the following essential 7 use cases: 

  1. Integrate two or multiple systems
  2. Centralize Integrations on one platform
  3. Connect B2B data via EDI, cXML, and JSON
  4. Migrate old systems to new
  5. Automate business processes
  6. Create data insights for BI, ML, & AI
  7. 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 integrating emerging technologies like AI and Machine Learning in to the tech stack.

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 integrations even for business users. In other words, even non-coding professionals like data experts and junior developers can be used to govern and orchestrate integrations by clicking through an intuitive dashboard.

This frees senior developers to focus their skills on building advanced solutions and customizations, enabling companies to grow their integrations with minimal IT support. Furthermore, by making the data exchange between integrated systems visible and accessible on one intuitive dashboard, the iPaaS allows developers and clients to quite literally be on the same page while planning integrations.

Some essential applications that retailers and manufacturers integrate using an iPaaS, include ERP systems, e-commerce platforms, PIM, CRM, WMS, POS, Marketing Automation systems, and other cloud apps. Centralizing all integrations and data on one secure and scalable cloud platform, the iPaaS helps seamlessly interchange or add new application integrations, without losing data integrity.

To help simplify the integration of two or more systems, the iPaaS provides:

  • Visible, drag-and-drop or click-and-configure tools to create, manage, and modify integrations
  • Connectors (pre-configured app data) to connect popular applications faster
  • A workflow builder to automate processes and data exchange between integrated systems
  • Automatic logging and monitoring features for real-time error detection

2. Centralize integrations on one platform

Avoid data silos by centralizing all your data and application integrations via one platform. Create a future-proof and secure IT landscape. Centralize data security and enable privacy compliance.

While businesses traditionally built various point-to-point integrations, created and managed via multiple integration partnerhelps, this led to the formation of data silos. The iPaaS helps businesses organize all their system integrations from one central platform, enabling synchronization and streamlining real-time data exchange across the IT landscape.

Companies, agencies, or systems integrators can therefore use the iPaaS to grow their IT landscape in a flexible and scalable way, integrating applications limitlessly without the fear of data inconsistencies and entanglements. The user-friendly, web interface of the iPaaS provides a visual overview of all data flows, holistic data insights, and integration tools that can be used to transform data and automate workflows.

The iPaaS doesn't just help integrate latest SaaS Solutions and cloud apps, it also provides capabilities to integrate legacy, on-premises systems, or to migrate data from these systems to the cloud. As such, businesses can use the iPaaS to unify all the essential parts of their IT landscape, while adding new applications and technologies to digitally transform their processes.

Some of the key benefits of the iPaaS and its centralization of integrations on one platform include:

  • Complete data control, advanced data security, and compliance with privacy legislation.
  • Automated monitoring and logging to detect integration errors in real-time
  • Caching of data, buffering, and reactivation procedures to ensure business continuity
  • Streamlining external & internal workflows
  • Unlocking data silos and delivering key data insights across integrated systems

3. Connect B2B 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 applications and business partners? Implement Message Broker features with the iPaaS.

Most B2B 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 andcXML (commerce eXtensible Markup Language) are language protocols designed to facilitate B2B data exchange. Apart from helping integrate all kinds of systems and applications, the iPaaS also allows you to map data across many file formats such as JSON, EDIFACT, X12, CSV, XML, and cXML. This helps seamlessly facilitate digitized data exchange between suppliers, partners, and manufacturers, which faciliates faster and more accurate data exchange across your IT landscape. It thus reduces the risk of costly errors and non-compliance with trading partner requirements or industry standards.

The iPaaS helps connect B2B relations and digitize business processes via:

  • Visual mappings tools to connect data formats like EDI, cXML, XML, JSON, CSV
  • Authentication formats such as AS2, SFTP, SSH, HotFolders, REST, Soap, and mail
  • Support for popular EDI standards like EDIFACT and X12
  • Comprehensive message validation capabilities to ensure the compliance of EDI transactions

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 cloud-based integration solutions, certain iPaaS vendors like Alumio support 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 accurately, 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 accounts 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
  • Access the Alumio platform as a real-time active streaming service that keeps running

Discover more about the differences between ETL vs iPaaS as data integration solutions ->


5. Automate Business Processes

As digitalization rapidly evolves, the only way for 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.  Apart from integrating automating data exchange tasks between systems, the iPaaS can also integrate process automation systems like RPA.

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
  • Hand scanners
  • Mobile scanners
  • NCR chips 
  • Scanning software
  • IoT sensors, like heating sensors, sensors for automatic doors that are closed, etc.
  • Cameras
  • 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 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 acts as a central integration platform through which you can deploy, 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.

Some advanced iPaaS solutions like Alumio also enable businesses to create custom alerts, so they can receive notifications about integration errors, anomalies, failed tasks or data retrieval, or successful data exchange, etc., in real time.

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 for real-time error detection
  • Notification features & cockpit
  • Temporary data storage

Conclusion

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. As such, the iPaaS helps companies centralize all their integrations on one platform. It helps connect customer data across different formats. It enables enables effective data migration. And, it presents a visual overview of the entire IT landscape, which it helps businesses grow in a flexible, scalable, and future-proof way.

For information on the benefits and use cases that the Alumio iPaaS offers, read our iPaaS guide.

Get in touch

We're happy to help and answer any questions you might have

About our partner

Start integrating with popular apps!

No items found.

Connect with any custom endpoint

Start integrating with popular apps!

No items found.

Connect with

No items found.

Get a free demo of the Alumio platform

to experience the automation benefits for your business, first-hand!
Book now!