Process automation is a technology that is still young and difficult for many to grasp. It is therefore all the better if technologies and providers are compared and evaluated by independent bodies. One of these comparisons is carried out by Gartner. A company that publishes market research results and analyses on the development of the IT industry. This also happened (as always) in the Gartner iPaaS Software Review 2022, which presents the supposed market leaders for Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS for short). However, with the nice addition in front: "Enterprise". And that is precisely the problem.
We have taken a look at the Gartner iPaaS Review and have to conclude that the report will not provide many insights for the majority of companies that are considering automating their processes. The "winners" presented in the analysis are mostly expensive, bulky and hardly applicable by a large number of companies. But what do we base this opinion on? What do we recommend instead? And what is iPaaS anyway?
Gartner itself defines Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) on its website as a set of cloud applications that enable the development, execution and control of integration flows. In addition, any combination of "on premises" (i.e. location-based) and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data of individual but also several companies can be connected.
The advantage of iPaaS lies in the increase in efficiency, the high scalability of such integrations and the structuring and optimisation of processes. How does this come about? Before processes are automated (whether via iPaaS or RPA), they should be analysed and optimised if necessary. Automation is therefore usually a good time to take a closer look at the company's internal processes and their efficiency. Because it makes little sense to integrate inefficient processes.
The optimisation alone therefore usually increases the efficiency of process flows. Automating them also saves additional time, which not only increases the efficiency of the processes, but also enables employees to spend their working time on more valuable activities.
Last but not least, the huge advantage of iPaaS is its scalability: since the applications are cloud-based, they grow optimally with the company or the process. Once successfully implemented, cloud automation can carry the corresponding workflows for a long time.
Confused by all these terms? Here's another comparison
Although the market is still relatively young, there are already many significant players. Some of them are well-known companies like SAP or Microsoft, others are even younger and smaller, such as Zapier or Make. The market is fragmented and different companies have different focuses.
In its own "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service", Gartner provides an overview of the market and divides it into Leaders, Challengers, Niche Players and Visionaries.
This year, as last year, the winner is Informatica, followed by Boomi, SAP, Workato, TIBCO and Celigo. With the exception of Workato, all of these iPaaS software products have one thing in common: they are complex, can only be used with a great deal of effort and are mostly aimed at corporations and large companies. Hence the addition of "Enterprise" in the Gartner iPaaS Review 2023.
This magic square almost exclusively contains providers that require professional implementation, offer expensive custom developments and, in our eyes, act as a deterrent to SMEs. SAP in particular is probably the epitome of a closed system that is very difficult to connect with other applications outside the SAP environment and specialises in corporations. Even if SAP itself has recognised this and is gradually opening up.
It borders on sarcasm to call small and medium-sized enterprises (which after all account for 99.5% OF THE BUSINESS LANDSCAPE IN GERMANY) It borders on sarcasm to tell small and medium-sized enterprises (which make up 99% of the business landscape in Germany) that they should simply knock on SAP's door to optimise and automate their processes in order to be competitive.
With a few exceptions, Gartner's "Magic" iPaaS Quadrant reflects the industry's big problem: expensive and bulky software solutions that are out of the question for the majority of companies are sold as THE solution and technology of the future. In our eyes, this is simply out of touch with reality. Sorry, not sorry.
All the companies and automation providers mentioned have their raison d'être, but they simply do not represent the full range of solutions needed by businesses.
We have already mentioned it in many places and we stick to it: iPaaS is the better solution than RPA.
RPA (robotic process automation) is a business process automation technology that models business processes by emulating human actions. However, RPA lacks flexibility and one thing in particular: interfaces. This means that RPA often requires in-house developments, which are expensive and time-consuming. In order to connect many applications and programmes successfully and in the long term, we need interfaces (also called APIs) that allow us to let applications "talk to each other".
API integration is the preferred solution for SMEs because it is flexible, customised and easy to use without neglecting complex processes. What's more, it meets the ongoing trend of more and more companies and applications moving to the cloud. One such cloud automation tool that works with APIs is Make.
Make connects hundreds of cloud applications, such as Microsoft365, GSuite, the project management tool Asana, Apple iOS, Android or the CRM system Hubspot. This is done via a modular interface, with the help of which triggers of an automated process are defined by default and thus trigger a chain reaction. The corresponding functions can be individually configured to create a modular and simple process flow (or workflow):
The costs for Make (besides the Free version) start at 9$ per month. We mostly recommend the standard package for 29$ per month. After analysing and recording the processes, they can be built immediately in the Make platform.
This approach is so promising, especially for SMEs, because it is simpler, cheaper and more flexible than any of the named "leaders" in the Gartner iPaaS Report. Moreover, with a little practice, Make can be used without in-depth programming knowledge.
Another bonus: As a Czech company, Make operates DSGVO compliant. A topic that means a lot of trouble and effort for many companies. Using a tool that covers this criterion means less hassle afterwards.
Gartner itself presents the report as an opinion and not as facts. No manufacturers or products are to be favoured, users should make up their own minds and not necessarily use the best-ranked systems. The report is only intended to present research results and not a recommendation.
Nevertheless, companies and decision-makers are dependent on such comparisons and independent tests in their search for suitable technologies and tools. It is a pity that the Gartner iPaaS Report does not reflect the whole range of technologies and applications. In particular, the presentation of the manufacturers in the "Magic Quadrant" implies a ranking in our eyes and could therefore be read by many as a recommendation. Moreover, this Magic Quadrant can be viewed in many places on the internet, but not the entire report. The report costs $1,995.
With this blog post, we would like to draw attention to this and show that especially for SMEs, which often do not have the same financial resources as corporations, there are already suitable solutions today that are often simply not heard enough.
We are happy to assist with the analysis and subsequent automation of business processes, explain possibilities and address the company's processes individually. Moreover, these cost a fraction of the solutions presented in the Gartner iPaaS Report.
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
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To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address.
02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
We have made a first distinction between iPaaS and BPA here.
We explain the term SaaS in more detail here.
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.