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In today’s hyper-dynamic business landscape, it’s no longer sufficient to manage workloads on a single cloud-based platform. In fact, the ubiquity of Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings such as Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Google G-Suite has left businesses with critical tasks and data scattered across multiple platforms. While each of these platforms excels in its niche, they often operate in isolation, creating a disjointed and fragmented data ecosystem. Users encounter hurdles in cross-platform communication and data sharing, limiting their productivity and efficiency. Moreover, maintaining data in separate repositories poses considerable business risks, including inconsistent data, potential loss of critical information, and difficulties in implementing a unified security and compliance strategy. This multiplicity and complexity call for a robust cross-platform business automation strategy, a game-changing solution that streamlines processes, breaks down data silos, and mitigates business risks.
The problems posed by scattered SaaS applications can be deceptively disruptive. The modern business user must navigate a labyrinth of applications to carry out a single process. This disjointed experience creates “information silos,” where vital data becomes trapped within a specific SaaS platform, isolated from the rest of the business ecosystem. This not only impacts the continuity of business operations but also impairs the ability to derive insights from the consolidated data.
One such productivity drain emerges in the form of context-switching. Imagine a sales representative who has to jump between Salesforce to manage customer relationships, Microsoft 365 for team collaboration and content creation, and G-Suite for email communication and calendar management. Each switch between applications disrupts focus, decreases productivity, and increases the likelihood of errors.
Automation across platforms is another steep challenge. Many businesses attempt to connect their SaaS applications using ad-hoc, manual integrations, which are often fragile and difficult to scale. For instance, a marketer may want to automate a workflow where a lead captured in a Google Form is automatically recorded as a new contact in Salesforce and then triggers an email sequence in Microsoft 365. Implementing this workflow manually can be arduous and time-consuming, often requiring specialized knowledge of APIs and scripting.
These examples underscore the need for a seamless, integrated cross-platform business automation strategy that allows applications to ‘talk’ to each other, minimizes context-switching, and simplifies automation across disparate SaaS platforms.
Recent studies have shed light on the significant costs associated with managing multiple cloud platforms. According to a 2022 report by Research and Markets, companies that use an average of five to nine SaaS platforms can spend up to $135,000 on IT labor costs alone each year. A study by Blissfully reveals that SaaS spend per employee has grown by over 50% in the past two years, reflecting a trend of increasing reliance on multiple SaaS tools.
The 2023 SaaS Management report by Zylo disclosed that businesses underestimate their SaaS application count by two to three times, pointing towards uncontrolled and hidden costs. On the productivity side, a survey by RingCentral found that app-switching at work costs businesses up to 32 days of lost productivity per worker per year.
Connecting and integrating SaaS applications can also be a daunting task. A 2022 MuleSoft Connectivity Benchmark Report highlights that only 29% of applications on average are integrated, leaving vast data sources unconnected. This low integration rate contributes to significant inefficiencies, with EDI automation vendor Cleo reporting that a lack of integration accounts for an average of $500,000 in lost revenue annually per organization.
When it comes to data exchange between SaaS applications, the situation is similarly bleak. According to a report by IDC, more than 80% of an organization’s data is unstructured, largely because it’s distributed across disparate SaaS platforms. As a result, businesses struggle to make sense of this fragmented data, often leading to ill-informed decision-making.
Moreover, the task of integrating and connecting SaaS applications is not just time-consuming but also requires specialized skill sets. A survey by Cloud Elements indicates that over 50% of businesses say API integrations take more than a month to complete, and over 25% need at least three months.
These challenges around integration, data exchange, and the required time and expertise underline the need for a comprehensive cross-platform business automation strategy that can effortlessly connect SaaS applications, unify data, and streamline operations.
The use of third-party applications for integration presents its own set of costs, challenges, and risks. A common issue is the steep learning curve involved in mastering new systems, often leading to productivity loss. According to a report by Prosci, organizations can experience a 50% drop in productivity when employees are asked to adopt new systems, which can take months to recover.
Leveraging APIs for integration is another hurdle for the average user, who typically lacks the technical skills needed. As per a study by Cloud Elements, 55% of businesses say they lack the necessary resources for building and maintaining APIs.
In addition, third-party integrations add another layer of complexity due to multiple configuration touch points. Each additional integration point increases the potential for failure, and resolving issues can be a complex task. A report by Dynatrace found that IT teams spend an average of 29% of their time dealing with digital performance problems, impacting both productivity and customer satisfaction.
In contrast, the ideal scenario is the implementation of native, embedded integrations that seamlessly connect cloud systems. Take, for example, the integration of Salesforce and Microsoft 365. An efficient cross-platform automation strategy would allow a sales rep to update a sales opportunity in Salesforce, which would then automatically update relevant SharePoint lists in Microsoft 365, generate a Teams meeting with the account team, and schedule a meeting in Outlook—all without leaving the Salesforce platform.
This seamless process vastly simplifies the user’s workflow, eliminates the need to manually input data in different systems, and dramatically reduces the risk of errors. Research by Vanson Bourne indicates that organizations that have successfully implemented such embedded integrations report a 63% faster speed to market, a 2-5X increase in customer retention, and a 37% increase in IT operational efficiency.
The implementation of cross-platform cloud automation strategies has proven beneficial for many companies across industries.
Take the case of Unilever, for example. The company has leveraged Salesforce, Microsoft 365, and Google Cloud to automate their business processes across platforms. They integrated their customer data from Salesforce with Microsoft 365 to improve team collaboration and streamline communications, resulting in a 10% increase in productivity and significant cost savings.
Another company that has successfully implemented a cross-platform strategy is Siemens. By integrating Microsoft 365 and Salesforce, Siemens achieved seamless data flow between the two platforms, improved customer service, and increased sales productivity by 15%.
The Royal Bank of Scotland is another noteworthy example. They used a cross-platform strategy to integrate multiple cloud services like IBM Cloud, AWS, and GCP, which helped them optimize their IT operations and reduce IT costs by 30%.
Finally, Carlsberg Group has also seen impressive results from its cross-platform strategy. By integrating Microsoft 365, SAP, and Azure, they were able to automate business processes, leading to an estimated 60% reduction in business process time.
These examples underscore the substantial gains in productivity and cost savings that can be achieved through a successful cross-platform cloud automation strategy. The lessons learned suggest that businesses need to focus on creating a seamless, integrated data ecosystem that breaks down information silos, simplifies workflows, and enables better decision making.
Implementing an effective cross-platform automation strategy requires careful planning and a systematic approach. Here are some steps you can follow to ensure a successful implementation:
By following these steps and incorporating industry best practices, businesses can successfully implement a robust and efficient cross-platform automation strategy.
After an integration strategy has been put in place, it’s essential to focus on ongoing management and optimization to ensure smooth operations. Here are the steps you can take:
By diligently following these steps, businesses can ensure their cross-platform automation strategy not only continues to run smoothly but also adapts and scales with their growth and changing needs.
In today’s increasingly digital landscape, businesses are leveraging multiple cloud platforms to enhance their operational efficiency and productivity. However, managing these disconnected SaaS platforms can often lead to data fragmentation, process silos, reduced productivity, and higher operational costs. Third-party integrations may seem like a quick solution, but they bring their own challenges, such as the need for constant learning, API complexities, and configuration touch points.
The answer lies in implementing an effective cross-platform automation strategy. By mapping out business processes, identifying integration points, choosing the right integration solution, defining data governance policies, thoroughly testing integrations, and continuously monitoring and optimizing the system, businesses can successfully integrate their SaaS platforms. Post-implementation, regular audits, ongoing training, system updates, a robust support system, and scalability planning are crucial to ensure smooth operations.
Real-world examples, such as Unilever, Siemens, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and Carlsberg Group, show us the transformative power of successful cross-platform integration strategies. They underscore how such strategies can increase productivity, reduce costs, and enhance business agility. The future of business operations is increasingly cross-platform and integrated, emphasizing the importance of adopting a well-planned, robust automation strategy that spans across all the SaaS platforms a business uses.