Woe unto you if you don’t think through your decisions to buy and use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
That’s right…woe unto you. As more and more organizations use SaaS applications (in 2011, Forrester projected 18 by 2013 and said we were at 9.6 by Fall 2012), the complexity of integrating all of those silo’d applications is rising as fast as the Mississippi River in a rainy Spring. Common SaaS applications already in use are CRM, marketing, email, file storage/sharing, and social media/collaboration.
The irony of low cost
The irony is that most organizations adopt SaaS applications to gain flexibility and lower operational costs. Doing that without thinking through the integration requirements will put many an organization in a very difficult place that will ultimately cost more and give less flexibility than expected. While IT’s mandate has always been to think organization-wide, the decision to go with SaaS is often made at a departmental or divisional level where the immediate benefits seem high and the cost invisible (for now).
SaaS, done poorly, costs more.
Adding to the complication is the fact that business leaders, not IT, are the ones making the decisions to buy and then manage their SaaS applications. These leaders have never been responsible for integration of data and rightfully deserve the moniker, “Shadow IT.” Too often, IT is asked to fix the problem they warned against in the first place. This quickly becomes a mess of finger pointing and “I told you so.”
SaaS, managed poorly, is painful.
If the irony of cost and I told you so weren’t enough, there’s a third problem that ends up just as ugly as the first two. Business processes rely on data that typically came primarily from internal systems. SaaS applications present a potential ‘blind spot’ for process-driving data. With the rise of Mobile, Social and Big Data, the disruption to the flow of key process data is significant.
SaaS, without integration, creates process hell.
iPaaS to the rescue
If the story ended there, it would be downright depressing. But we still wouldn’t stop buying and using SaaS, would we…the business, long tired of waiting years for new applications and months for updates, would never go back to those dark ages. The truth of the matter is this is IT’s problem to solve and it won’t get better until they realize that (a kind of Step 1 of their own 12-step program).
Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) is a result of this very dilemma. It is what Garter calls, “Moving integration to the cloud”:
Integration platform as a service enables implementation of application, process, service and data integration, and the relevant governance, “in the cloud.” Coexistence and federation of iPaaS offerings with on-premises integration and governance platforms will be the norm for large organizations.
This isn’t an add-on sale like getting the plush floor mats with your new car. iPaaS is a cornerstone capability for organizations that want to be ready for the next generation of business. Without it, not only will you lose the value of the SaaS you already have, but you’ll also be left unable to pivot quickly to the SaaS applications that are sure to get more powerful in the very near future.
IPaaS becomes your plug-and-play backend that enables cost savings, flexibility, business control and process management success.