Managing your Online Business Applications Using Bots

Introduction:

In this post, we provide basic info about SaaS Application integration, why it is needed and how it is being made easy by dot2Globe NextGen SaaS Integration Platform ‘INCOX’. The audience for this blog is an individual/small to medium businesses who are using Online (Software as a Service — SaaS) applications for their business purposes across different functions like CRM, Accounting, HR, Project Management etc.,

Unlike traditional applications, SaaS applications are ready-built packaged offerings made available for consumption on a monthly/yearly subscription. As per industry research, the adoption of SaaS applications by businesses is estimated at an average of 16 Apps per business in 2017 and is increasing every year. With the growing SaaS adoption, the need for connecting these applications also becomes a necessity. While there are many integration players in the market, still SaaS integration is not a straight-forward thing for an SME. Many think SaaS applications offered from a Single Vendor are inherently connected or that Cloud Applications are interconnected by default. While neither of them is true, it still remains as a challenge to many small business owners when they identify the need for integration

Why SaaS Application Integration?

Any application that is available Online/Off-the-Shelf is meant to work in a Stand-Alone fashion to satisfy a business purpose. E.g. a CRM application to automate the Selling process or an accounting package to digitize the accounting process. As independently functioning applications, the data residing across these have to be manually manipulated for fulfilling an end-to-end business value realization. For e.g. customer data from CRM and revenue data from the accounting system is necessary to determine the business value of the customer. A manual process is highly cumbersome, error-prone and effort has to be repeated every time. On the contrary, connected applications dynamically exchange data. Using this data, businesses can create custom reports to get real-time insights into their business.

‘INCOX’: The SaaS Integration differentiation

The traditional integration between applications involves software development using Application Programming Interfaces called ‘API’ on two or more Online Applications that need to be connected. While there are many SaaS Integration platforms that already take care of these aspects, predominantly, all of them base their integration provisioning through a ‘Trigger’/’Action’ configuration model. i.e. the integration platform expects the customer to set-up a trigger and the corresponding actions to be executed on one or more applications.

Whereas, dot2Globe attempts to further simplify this to a ‘No Code’ or ‘Hands-Free’ approach by leveraging AI/NLP technique & BOTs on their SaaS Integration platform ‘INCOX’ (signifying ‘INTERACT’ — ‘CONNECT’ — ‘EXECUTE’). The INCOX platform has all the connections/business workflows pre-configured for the Online Applications included in its portfolio. Customers can subscribe to the platform and readily execute tasks across multiple applications without any wait time.

To ease the process further, INCOX doesn’t have a User Interface (UI). Instead, it enables its functionality through a BOT called ‘incoxBot’ on Slack/Skype Messenger. This eliminates the need for the business owners/users to follow the traditional way of learning & getting accustomed to new UIs/Menus and more specifically installing a separate application for mobile. Instead, they can remain in their known application context and handle their business tasks without switching applications.

Unlike other integration platforms, INCOX also provides the ability to query data/perform actions on individual applications. This empowers a business owner to be self-reliant and stay informed at all times.

Illustration:

Assume a Small business Enterprise using ZOHO CRM for Customer Relationship Management and ZOHO Books for Accounting & they want both applications to work together to accomplish certain business transactions which we call ‘Workflows’. E.g. “Create an invoice in ZOHO Books for a deal, whose status is ‘Won’ in ZOHO CRM. Let us see the difference between the steps involved in a traditional integration method vs using the INCOX platform.

Steps in traditional application integration method:

  1. APIs for the two applications are published by the application vendor. This is a pre-requisite for any application integration.
  2. Business needs to engage a suitable developer either in-house\external
  3. A developer needs to develop Software using the API to interact between the applications.
  4. A developer needs to validate the integration and certify for use
  5. Business validates the integration for their scenario by running a test

The difference in using the ‘INCOX’ integration platform

Step #1 to #4 already in-built as part of the platform. Only the below steps are required to be performed.

  1. Business needs to subscribe to dot2Globe INCOX platform
  2. Interact with ‘INCOX Bot’ and execute the business workflow.
  3. Query the BOT for critical data from the application e.g. Top 10 customers from CRM by deal size. This is a value addition available out-of-box.

In other words, ‘INCOX’ signifies ‘Ready-to Use’, ‘Easy-to Use’ and ‘Easy to Choose’ approach for integration, which simplifies the SaaS integration for Online Applications to a great extent.

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