“An embedded integration platform designed specifically for B2B software companies offers a compelling solution for software companies looking to respond faster to customer and market demand for integrations,” says Michael Zuercher, CEO and co-founder of Prismatic, in an exclusive interview with EnterpriseTalk.
ET Bureau: How does hyper-specialization help with the software integration platforms?
Michael Zuercher: Hyper-specialization of software is a massive trend that’s directly contributing to the increasing need for integration platforms. Software products are becoming more narrowly focused, performing one or two business functions extremely well rather than serving as an all-in-one solution. This means businesses are using more disparate software products and need to find ways to make all those different systems work together.
As a result, B2B software companies are facing greater demand than ever before to provide software integrations. That’s where embedded integration platforms come in. They help B2B software companies to easily build more integrations and provide a better integration user experience.
ET Bureau: What are the most important solutions that can be offered by software integration platforms?
Michael Zuercher: Most integration platforms on the market today offer solutions for enterprises looking to build integrations between the various systems they use within their businesses. They’re often known as iPaaS solutions, or Integration Platform as a Service.
Embedded integration platforms are a special class of integration platforms that help software companies provide integrations connecting their software to the other systems their customers use. An embedded integration platform designed specifically for B2B software companies offers a compelling solution for software companies looking to respond faster to customer and market demand for integrations. The best integration platforms also help them reduce the amount of engineering time and effort they spend delivering those integrations so they can focus more resources on core product work.
They tend to address those goals in two fundamental ways.
First, they handle some integration requirements out of the box as part of the platform, so teams simply don’t have to spend time on them. For example, they provide a scalable, secure environment for running integrations so that teams don’t have to stand up and maintain special infrastructure. They also handle integration complexities like auth flows and provide built-in tools like logging and alerting.
Second, they empower non-engineering teams to take on major portions of the integration workload. Some provide powerful development tools that enable engineers to extend the platform to fit their product and industry, leveraging a company’s development resources where they can have the biggest impact in the integration process. The majority of the integration workload, then, can be taken on by other teams. Integration builders assemble integrations in a low-code designer that’s tailored for their product and industry. Then, a simple management environment empowers customers and customer-facing teams to take on integration setup and support.
ET Bureau: Why do some businesses hesitate to use integration platforms?
Michael Zuercher: B2B software teams are often hesitant to implement an integration platform, or really any third-party platform, out of concern that it will leave them cornered without ways to accomplish what they need. This is an valid concern with integration platforms, because many traditional integration platforms lack flexibility and extensibility.
The reality is, for any integration platform to work in the real world of a B2B software company, it has to be something they can tailor to fit their product, industry, and the way they build software. Some platforms can make it easy to incorporate it into the existing tool chain and build custom components that can be included in integrations.
ET Bureau: What are the strategies you would recommend to reimagine and reutilize integration platforms that can better serve B2B customers?
Michael Zuercher: Software companies can better serve B2B customers by providing more integrations and a better overall integration experience. An integration platform can help them do that with far less time and effort, and my number one recommendation is to look for an integration platform that was designed specifically for B2B software companies.
Most integration platforms were designed for enterprises and don’t serve software companies very well. It’s just a very different use case, and that leads to all sorts of gaps. Just to name a few: they typically don’t support building reusable integrations that can be deployed to multiple customers with different configurations, don’t offer tools for managing integrations at scale across a broad customer base, don’t provide ways to extend the platform to fit your product and industry.
B2B software companies typically benefit far more from an integration platform built specifically for their use case because they handle all the extra challenges that come with building and supporting integrations for customers.
ET Bureau: What technological advancements should be planned to help improve the efficiency of integration platforms?
Michael Zuercher: As integration demand continues to intensify, many efficiency-minded software companies will shift from delivering integrations as services to a more productized integration strategy. As embedded integration platforms evolve, they should focus on helping software companies make that shift.
Service-based integration models involve building integrations one by one to satisfy individual customer needs. This strategy typically works well for a product’s first few integrations but doesn’t scale well to building and maintaining a large collection of integrations for a growing customer base. Furthermore, integrations delivered as services typically lack a polished user experience.
On the other hand, a productized integration strategy entails building integrations in a reusable way intended for use by many customers, which are implemented with all the configurability, polish, and ease of use that comes with core product features. Productized integrations reduce the distinct number of integrations companies must build and maintain, leading to both significant efficiency wins and better user experiences.
Michael Zuercher is CEO and co-founder of Prismatic, the embedded integration platform for B2B software companies. A veteran of the software industry, he passionately believes that B2B software companies need a better way to build and deploy integrations. Founded on this vision, Prismatic provides software teams exactly that.