An Application Integration Strategy that Will Rock Your Ecosystem

Adam Hughes
A successful application integration strategy involves a portfolio of prebuilt application connectors to allow integration of business-critical applications.

 As far as business priorities go, 2019 is the year of ecosystems. That’s because enterprises recognize the importance of a tightly connected and well-integrated business ecosystem, which includes a modern application integration strategy, as well as the technology required to take advantage of it all. An integrated ecosystem enables reliable, automated communication among your customers, trading partners, and applications and helps companies design end-to-end data flows in support of enhanced business outcomes.

At the business level, integration is the invisible gravitational energy that pulls together your ecosystem. At the technological level, integration is the universe’s language – the what, how, and why interactions happen. Enterprises gain value from their ecosystems through dynamic interactions and business processes that span traditional B2B patterns and incorporate new ecosystem endpoints, which include applications now more than ever.

Because of this, businesses must augment and extend their existing business workflows to include application processes and data, and it’s why a smart enterprise application integration strategy is critical. Enterprises also can use these newfound capabilities to create and automate entirely new digital processes to leverage new business and revenue models.

Application Connectors Create Dynamic Business Processes

A portfolio of prebuilt application connectors allows enterprises to integrate all of their business-critical applications. There are many advantages to using these connectors, including faster time to value and a smoother onboarding process among the members of your business ecosystem.

Additionally, application connectors provide enterprises with the agility necessary to expand and evolve their businesses. Instead of spending (wasting) valuable time creating integrations yourself, this process is completed for you so you can better focus your resources on creating true business opportunities.

Connectors can expedite the integration process for a number of applications, but we’ll focus on three application categories core to the modern business ecosystem, its processes, and how business is done in the era of the cloud. They are:

1. E-Commerce Marketplaces

From manufacturers to wholesalers and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, companies have started to leverage e-commerce marketplaces to expand their ecosystem and add new revenue streams. E-commerce marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, and Etsy have allowed supply chain participants to launch new business models for direct selling by way of digital storefronts. Oftentimes, businesses begin small, experimenting at selling on digital marketplaces and utilizing an in-house skillset to manually managing orders, shipments, and fulfillment. However, the reality is that success in e-commerce means managing more product data, more orders, and more fulfillment processes, meaning much more time, manual effort, and manpower are required to effectively support a viable e-commerce presence.

One of the most popular e-commerce marketplaces is Amazon Seller Central. The challenge businesses face, however, is that Amazon’s API richness means connecting and integrating can get very complicated. Teams may need to spend a lot of time to learn and potentially code out a solution, crippling the time to value, and allowing competitors to be there first. 

In connecting to Amazon-like e-commerce marketplaces, businesses should consider leveraging API connectors that help streamline business process integration and help eliminate the manual effort needed to maintain their selling.

Connecting to an e-commerce marketplace like Amazon Seller Central must be optimized to ensure that the digital store is integrated as part of a complete end-to-end business process. The Amazon storefront, for example, must integrate into your ERP to align data between front-end and back-end systems to fill orders, monitor inventory, and provide optimal customer experience.

An application connector for Amazon allows the business to quickly configure and orchestrate business processes that leverage Amazon APIs. In this instance, through the connector, a manufacturer could place products directly on Amazon, maintain accurate inventory data, initiate fulfillment processes by Amazon or third-party providers, and gain visibility and insights into the overall business process.

The ability to connect and integrate seamlessly with Amazon puts your company in the driver’s seat and provides a global reach to the business outside of traditional retail. Further, automating data alignment between your e-commerce storefront and back-end ERP systems helps eliminate manual integration processes to greatly reduce costs and errors for competitive advantage.

2. Cloud ERPs

A cloud ERP (enterprise resource planning) application is hosted on a third-party cloud computing platform, rather than behind your own firewall. Companies that opt for this option do so because it can save a considerable amount of money in the short and long terms. Your costs will be predictable, and most cloud ERPs offer a pay-as-you-go model. Meanwhile, organizations also don’t have to worry about ongoing maintenance and other costs that may arise when you are responsible for managing the solution.

Acumatica is an ERP provider that is specifically designed to work for mid-size enterprises. It provides business applications for finance, distribution, and accounting. A prebuilt application connector allows you to sync Acumatica data across your applications and business ecosystem of trading partners, customers, and more. Connecting to Acumatica’s ERP provides a secure data handoff to enterprise applications and systems for storage and analysis and business intelligence through end-to-end process visibility.

3. Cloud CRMs

A cloud CRM (customer relationship management) application is similar to a cloud ERP in that it is also hosted by a third-party provider. A CRM uses data integration so that enterprises can gain valuable information about their customers to better serve them. The type of information gathered is wide-ranging, but an integrated cloud CRM ultimately helps you manage a database of sales leads, track and monitor outreach, and ensure your important customer records are up to date.

The most common and widely used cloud CRM is Salesforce, a SaaS platform in use by virtually every industry for a variety of business functions, such as sales, service, and marketing. A prebuilt Salesforce application connector integrates your environment with the cloud CRM in order to sync customer relationship data to your back-end systems. Salesforce makes it simple so you can access your communication and information pertaining to any of your customers.

How Do I Take Advantage of Application Connectors?

To ensure automate processing and comprehensive visibility of the business, enterprises must avoid integration silos where possible. Applications that are spun up individually are actually holding that data hostage in a separate part of your business, and when even one important application isn’t present in your reporting and dashboards, you don’t have a holistic view of your important revenue-affecting data flows. An ecosystem integration platform provides the B2B, cloud, and application integration services that your business depends on, bridges the gap between internal and external data processes, and simplifies how you interact with customers and trading partners.

Cleo Integration Cloud operationalizes your modern business strategy and maximizes the value you extract from your applications. This next-generation platform features application connectors that are specifically built to integrate your business-critical ERP, CRM, and e-commerce applications (among others) and provide a holistic view of end-to-end business processes. With an ecosystem integration platform as the cornerstone of your application integration strategy, you can grow your business, keep pace with customer demand, stay ahead of the competition, and maximize the value from your ecosystem relationships.

After all, 2019 is the year of ecosystems.

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