Welcome to the Post-Digital-Transformation Era.
At this point, companies have fully embraced the cloud. As we enter the second decade of SaaS applications, most companies are actively adopting dozens, even hundreds of best-of-breed business applications across multiple departments — and the pace is accelerating. In this era, the question is no longer about moving to the cloud. Instead, businesses today are much more focused on maximizing the return on the increasingly significant investment presented by cloud applications as they mature.
While business apps today are simple to use, easy to set up, and address every conceivable challenge any company faces, the best-of-breed strategy is not enough. As each department adopts its own set of apps, the number of silos across the organization grows, creating bottlenecks. Individuals may take matters into their own hands and create spreadsheets, transmit data via email or engage in other manual processes to move information along. This is not only a drain on resources, but it inevitably leads to costly errors, a lack of visibility, slowdowns, and security issues for the entire organization.
Every growing company will encounter these manual bottlenecks. This might not be an issue for early-stage companies with low organizational complexity, volume of data, and technical resources.
But at some point, broken processes become untenable, particularly when foundational SaaS apps such as CRM, ERP, or HCM are implemented. These apps are the official system of record for several key business objects for any company. For example, ERP owns accounting and customer records, CRM owns sales and prospect records, and HCM owns employee and hiring records. Due to the nature of this information, they are touched or are provided by many different processes that span across departments.
Beyond the bigger foundational apps, individual departments begin to adopt their own domain-specific SaaS apps that may include other systems of record, such as Marketing Automation for Marketing and Ticket Tracking for Support.
This translates into holistically thinking about business process automation throughout the organization. The need for integration — the ability to connect two or more applications together — suddenly jumps to the forefront of the conversation and becomes mission-critical for the company to succeed.
Integration is a key component of any robust automation strategy, but depending on the pain being felt, what’s at stake, and where a company finds itself in its lifecycle, the specific integration approaches differ significantly.
The Integration Maturity Model
The concept of a Maturity Model is a well-known framework that articulates “the ability of an organization for continuous improvement in a particular discipline”. This helps companies and teams understand the challenges they face and where they might be headed based on where they sit in the maturity model. For example, while the accounting team of a young company might slowly manage expense reporting via email, spreadsheets, and paper checks, more mature accounting teams have fully-automated systems with real-time dashboards that provide insights into total spend by departments.
Having provided integrations for thousands of companies over the last decade, Celigo has identified certain integration trends based on a company’s own operational readiness. The result is the following Integration Maturity Model to help companies understand their own integration readiness: