Business Software Solutions: Software Integrations

Mini-Series: Part 5 of 5

software integrations
The modern first world is a world revolving around convenience. Businesses are finding innovative ways to provide convenience for their customers and customers are making purchases with convenience at the top of their priority list. Many of these conveniences are made possible through the recent advances in software. While I believe there are two sides to these technological advances, I want to focus on one of the most underrated highlights: software integrations. In this blog, we enter into the growing niche of software integrations. We’ll explore the definition of software integration, the different types of integrations, and what that means for your business. Let’s begin!

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But very quickly, I wanted to remind you folks that this will be our last post for the time being. As much as we enjoy sharing our knowledge with all of you, our workloads just won’t allow us to keep up with the articles. As we enter into this (hopefully temporary) hiatus, we invite you to let us know about any topics you’d like us to cover in the future. You can do so by following this link over to our contact form and in the Questions section simply write the topic request! Alright, now back to the topic at hand: software integrations.

What is a Software Integration?

The cursory definition of software integration is the connection between two different software applications. The connection is typically brokered through an API, or Application Programming Interface. We got some important concepts here so let’s make sure we’re on the same page. If you recall, the definition of a software application from our Business Software Solutions: Web Apps post, a software application is a “collection of software that accomplishes a specific task”. These applications can be sorted into one of  two general categories: it either produces an API or it consumes an API. The applications that most end users like you and I are familiar with are combinations of these two apps, in one of two ways: decoupled or monolithic. Monolithic applications have a back-end application that produces an API with a front-end application that consumes the API built in. Decoupled applications also consist of both back and front ends but are hosted separately.

Integration occurs when you have an existing application, either an in-house or SaaS, and would like to add some form of connection with another third-party application. This connection can be as simple as database updates via webhooks or as complicated as in-app functionality. A majority of the popular softwares offer API access, either for free or through a membership, making connecting much easier. API access allows for the more advanced in-app functionality where you’d be able to do things with the third-party software through your in-house or SaaS software. This is a huge boost for productivity and UX (user experience)! It’s worth noting that if you are using a SaaS, then you’re at the will of their engineering team regarding the integration of your targeted third-party software.

Different Types of Software Integrations

So now that you have an understanding of what a software integration is, let’s explore the different types of software integrations. I’ve already alluded to the main two in the last section, but let’s get a deeper understanding of what they are. The two main forms of integration with modern software are webhooks and API. The more common, and more traditional, form of integration is the webhook. Webhooks are event-based http callbacks. In other words, when a specific event happens on the target software, this code triggers and sends the requested data to the intended recipient. It’s fast, lightweight and most of the time fairly easy to integrate.

Today, convenience is the name of the game. Most software is aimed at providing or improving convenience for their users. With this in mind, many software companies have incorporated an open or membership-based API which allows for an easier integration into your existing software. Stripe is an excellent example. Not only do they have an awesome API that’s easy to work with, it also has some great documentation backing it! In contrast to the event-based webooks, APIs usually leverage either a REST or SOAP protocol. By broadening the scope of how and when you can access the data, it allows for a programmatic implementation into the source code. In other words, you can either view the data or store new data whenever you want, not just when there are predetermined events.

How Do Integrations Help Businesses?

We’ve covered quite a bit so far: what software integrations are and the different ways of implementing them. You may be thinking, that’s great and all but how does this affect my business? Great question! I circled the answer in the previous section but to put it bluntly: convenience! In extension, businesses also benefit from the huge productivity boost that follows. How? Let’s take a look back at our Stripe example. Sure, a Stripe integration is obviously great for your customers, but it can also benefit your productivity as well. Assuming you have an in-house application, your developers would simply need to make your own custom dashboard to access all of the admin features right from your own app! So instead of navigating back and forth between your application and the Stripe dashboard, everything can be done through your application. It’s a little tougher if you’re using a SaaS product because even if they have an integration with the third-party software you want, you’re limited to the features they’ve implemented.

Conclusion

Well, folks, that’s the end of this post. I hope you enjoyed the final topic in our mini-series and have a deeper understanding of the different types of software integrations. While this is a temporary goodbye, we’ve already gotten a few requests for topics when we get back, so if you’ve got one that you want to hear our thoughts on, now is the time! As the world starts turning back to some semblance of normalcy, the Kobalt team wishes you and your business the best!

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