As software becomes more and more embedded in everyday life, we become more dependent on the functionality of our applications and connectivity. With internet native companies storing their data in cloud software applications the need for integrations accelerate. According to Gartner, there has been a 60% growth of API integrations from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, by 2021 it’s estimated that the integration platform market will increase to $4 billion in revenue. Integration is inevitable, and choosing the right integration platform is a crucial step in the journey.
A short history of API providers
But how did we get here? Let’s take a look at the evolution of the integration marketplace and how API platforms have transformed. In the beginning, we had ETL (extract, transform, and load) for batch & file systems. Then the need for the golden record rose, leading to master data management to have a single source of truth. The first Enterprise Service Buses begin to take shape to move data as networking capabilities increased.
Then, the internet. As organizations and consumers alike adopted it in mass, everything began to move to the internet including the way organizations move data. This higher adoption allowed organizations to begin publishing key features externally through APIs. The need to effectively manage these APIs rapidly drove the adoption of API management to become a standard of how organizations can effectively engage with developers at large. Additionally, this brought the first iteration of iPaaS, which were ESB point-to-point connections, but in the cloud.
As the application ecosystem grew so did the number of consumer-focused applications. iSaaS was developed with basic integration formulas that were created situationally. But these remain linear, basic and single tenanted. Finally, the rise of the virtual data resource with one-to-many integrations allowed businesses to focus on one data model across their organization and their customers. As customers create integrations, they can truly govern their data, the way they want. This evolution can be loosely correlated to the businesses that were created over time.
With this enhanced control over data manipulation and transformation, it falls to integration providers to guide customers how best to integrate their data across ecosystems. API integration platforms need to not only be brokers of data but also fiduciaries of data. This can only be done if platforms are neutral and unbiased, so organizational processes are supported by applications, not enslaved by them.
5 Requirements of an Integration Platform
Five things that need to be considered when selecting an integration platform for your organization, customers, and partners.
- One to Many Approach: Point-to-point integrations exponentially increases the amount of work per nth application added.
- Size of Connector Catalog: The size of the catalog is essential when choosing your integration platform because your needs will grow alongside the application landscape, make sure there is a wide range of pre-built applications.
- The Depth of Connectors: Don’t settle for thin connections, use an integration platform that offers authentication, events/polling, mapping/transformation, workflows, bulk/error handling, and can handle custom objects.
- Control the User and Developer Experience: Do you have the ability to control the user experience end to end, embedded in your UI? And is your developer experience fluid enough to enable and accelerate your integration strategy?
- Security and Data Protection: Finally, make sure that the platform you choose is certified and enterprise-grade, this includes SOC2 Type II, ISO 27001, GDPR, and PCI, all of which are fundamental to long-term stability.
Over the years, the idea of what the “best practice” for developing integrations has changed. The first option was to use a system integrator to develop your integration, but this could take longer than expected, eating revenues while simultaneously increasing cost. The default option for most is to develop your own integrations to various APIs, but this forces your team to become experts on someone else’s endpoint and continuously handoff who will maintain it. Using Citizen Integrators helps accelerate your connection to other applications, but in doing so, you lose control of the user experience, often shifting the burden of integration to your customers.
Software companies understand that integrations need to be a differentiator in their product’s user experience, allowing for integrations to be an extension of their products. Moreover, integrations need to be fully embeddable, so the burden of integration doesn’t shift to the customer.
Want to see how this relates to doughnuts and margaritas? Watch the full length webinar.