What Is Application Integration?

November 5, 2021
Pipeline of SnapLogic Snaps for application integration

In 2021, Okta reported that companies used an average of 175 applications with tech companies deploying the most apps—155 on average.

While companies understand the need to connect those apps with each other, app integration processes are far from perfect. In fact, 95% of companies surveyed by Vanson Bourne reported that their integration processes still need improvement.

These integration challenges aren’t a small issue. They create data silos, which hampers productivity and your customer experience.

The answer to these problems? Use a no-code platform to automate application integration so anyone can connect apps, saving you time and money. You can easily take control of your application sprawl, share information across departments, and automate workflow, giving teams more time to focus on what matters most — a better customer experience.

What Is Application Integration?

Application integration is a process where two or more software applications or systems are connected so that they can work together in new ways. It helps teams work efficiently by automating workflows and business processes and syncing data across tools.

To integrate applications, businesses often use APIs or connectors that enable on-premises and/or cloud applications to “talk” and share data.

Examples of Application Integration

Different industries can realize various benefits from connecting their applications together.

  • Banks can integrate customer accounts and loan services with their app and offer loans to customers digitally.
  • In hospitals, application integration can connect patients’ records with an electronic health record system so caregivers can easily access the information they need.
  • Manufacturers can connect devices used to monitor production lines to other systems like scheduling apps or systems that control the factory environment to identify production issues and find more efficient, cost-effective ways to create goods.

Benefits of Application Integration

Application integration can provide both organizational and operational benefits.

  • Efficient collaboration: Application integration means data across apps is always synced and creates a single source of truth, ensuring everyone has quick access to the data they need to collaborate across teams. 
  • Process automation: App integration allows you to build workflows to streamline and automate processes. For example, businesses can integrate Salesforce CRM (customer relationship management) with an email marketing platform to deliver targeted and relevant messaging based on buyer intent or demographic information. The results of the campaign can then be fed into an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system so companies can wisely invest resources based on campaign effectiveness.
  • Spot opportunities and challenges: With improved data visibility, you can proactively work on new opportunities or challenges. This approach also leads to better information management, helping leaders and managers make smarter decisions.

How Does Application Integration Work? 4 Different Methods

Apps can be integrated in a few different ways:

  • Manual coding, point-to-point (P2P).
  • API (application programming interfaces) integrations.
  • Middleware like an enterprise service bus (ESB).
  • Integration tools like an integration platform as a service (iPaaS).

Point-to-point integration requires custom code to connect two apps, and several coding languages can be used to write this code. But P2P only holds up when the scope of integration is shallow and there’s only one integration to build.

Enterprises that deal with complex and large volumes of data prefer using APIs instead and have embraced the API-first philosophy. 66% of API professionals and developers ranked themselves 5 or higher on a scale of 10 on the API-first scale.

ESBs are also quite popular with enterprises that have complex IT needs. An ESB is an architecture — a set of rules for connecting apps over bus-like infrastructure. In theory, ESB has the potential to standardize application integration, helping developers spend less time integrating and more time improving applications. You can also reuse integrations in new projects, which means more savings and productivity.

But ESBs don’t work for all organizations. They are often seen as the bottleneck because ESB middleware updates can impact existing integrations, and making changes to one integration can destabilize others.

While most of these methods have their pros and cons, manual integration has become too slow to keep pace with the needs of the business.

Integration has grown more complex, as most companies have legacy systems, on-premises applications, and cloud applications that need to be connected.

SaaS business applications update on their own, which means manual integrations need to be updated as well. IT does not have time to monitor and maintain manual integrations.

So, modern enterprises choose an iPaaS as their preferred application integration solution. An iPaaS enables scalability for a limitless number of integrations. It automates the integration process itself, making it easy for anyone authorized in the business to create integration pipelines and workflows that quickly improve outcomes.

The Right iPaaS for Application Integration

Using pre-built connectors, templates, and an intuitive drag-and-drop interface (low-code/no-code), the best iPaaS solutions make integrations simple, easy, and fast. Integrations can be done in real time, which means the business can start using the new workflows immediately.

Additionally, an iPaaS like SnapLogic handles not only enterprise application integration (EAI) but also data integration.

While data integration is not the same as application integration, having a tool that can do both is helpful. By reconciling data, data flows, and data formats, businesses can make informed decisions from one source of data truth.

As businesses implement modernization initiatives, improving the way they handle application integration is key to making sure they can partake in a vast ecosystem of apps and services that power business today. Integration optimization improves business operations and positions enterprises to be able to meet customer expectations in a fast-moving world.

Automate your app integration without paying more or writing more code with SnapLogic today.

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