Integration 101 For Associations
Most companies leverage a variety of software platforms to manage their businesses. For a small commercial business, this may be limited to one or two systems, like a CRM and marketing tool. While some associations manage to work solely within the confines of their AMS, most organizations also utilize multiple purpose-built solutions for specific needs (like an LMS, Event Management, CMS, etc.).
About a decade ago, the primary challenge for orgs using multiple systems was implementing single-sign-on (SSO) to allow members to login once and move between systems to complete tasks. That problem has largely been solved, especially with the advent of affordable identity providers (IdPs).
Now the challenge for most organizations who are using, or would like to use, disparate systems, is how to best integrate those systems and ensure that the connections are robust, reliable, and help the org best leverage the data stored in those systems.
There are two main methods of integration: point-to-point and iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). While point-to-point integration can work well for simple use cases, it is not a scalable solution for larger organizations. With point-to-point integrations, you often end up with a web of integrations among systems as seen in the “Point to Point” Model below. If you want to change out a single system in the future, you will have to rebuild multiple integrations.
“Point to Point” Model
With an iPaaS, all of your integrations run through the integration platform, providing a much more scalable solution as seen in the “Hub and Spoke “ model below.
iPaaS “Hub and Spoke” Model
Benefits of iPaaS
Organizations of all sizes are leveraging best of breed solutions and will continue to do so in the future. An iPaaS is a much better option for associations, and here are a few reasons why:
Flexibility: iPaaS offers flexibility in terms of integration capabilities. It can integrate with a wide range of systems, including cloud-based and on-premises applications. This means you can connect all of your business systems, regardless of their location or type, via a single platform.
Scalability: As your business grows, so does your need for integration. Point-to-point integrations can become cumbersome and expensive to maintain as the number of connections increases. iPaaS, on the other hand, is designed to scale with your business. It can handle a large number of integrations without any additional effort or cost on your part.
Engagement Data: More and more associations are seeing the benefits of measuring member engagement, but one hurdle in real effective metrics and analysis can be the number of systems in place where engagement data is gathered. An iPaaS can be leveraged to propvide a consolidated data lake/warehouse that can provide a holistic view of your members via your preferred business intelligence tools.
Simplicity: iPaaS simplifies the integration process by providing a single platform for all of your integration needs. This eliminates the need for multiple point-to-point integrations, which can be complex and time-consuming to set up and maintain. With iPaaS, you can manage all of your integrations in one place, making it easy to add or remove connections as needed.
Stability: Many iPaaS solutions include out of the box integration points to connect with commonly used systems. And for edge cases where there is not an existing connector, it is typically fairly straightforward to implement a new one. By leveraging an iPaaS provider’s expertise in implementing and monitoring integrations, you can increase uptime and lower the risk of broken connections.
Cost-effectiveness: Point-to-point integrations can be expensive to set up and maintain. Each connection requires specialized expertise and resources, which can quickly add up in terms of time and money. iPaaS can often offer a more cost-effective solution, especially as long term goals are considered. It provides a single platform for all of your integration needs, eliminating the need for multiple point-to-point integrations and the associated maintenance costs.
Security: iPaaS offers a higher level of security compared to point-to-point integrations. It uses secure protocols and encryption to protect data as it is transferred between systems. This ensures that your sensitive business information is kept safe and secure.
In conclusion, as your association explores how to best integrate disparate systems, exploring an iPaaS should be part of the process. Be sure to consider all costs and benefits associated with both approaches – you might just be surprised how affordable some solutions are and how much more you can do with your data. If you’d like to learn more about fusionSpan’s Fonteva and Salesforce Managed Services, Digital Experience Design, or Integration Options, including our iPaaS fusionConnect, please reach out!