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Challenges that Companies Face in Software Integration With the plethora of cloud applications available today, it is possible-in fact advantageous-for businesses to run entirely in the cloud.

By Entrepreneur India Staff

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For a business to run successfully, all its departments have to work in concert, which means that the disparate tools each department uses must work as one. This coordinated approach yields important business insights that can drive better decision-making. A marketer may come up with better campaigns if he has access to the customer support history for the product he is promoting. A salesperson may choose to focus on another deal if she is engaging with a customer who regularly defaults on his payments. A support agent may escalate a ticket sooner if the customer has purchased a large bulk order. These time- and money-saving decisions can only be made if information flows freely between departments.

To ensure silos do not impede information sharing, software must be integrated. Businesses that are still dependent on installed software have to invest in Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) for their integration needs and spend enormous amounts of time and money on maintenance and software updates. Even companies that use a combination of cloud and installed software face significant hurdles.

Some silos can be overcome by passing data back and forth between on-premises servers and cloud apps, but this does not happen in real time, meaning decision makers are not armed with up-to-date data.

With the plethora of cloud applications available today, it is possible—in fact advantageous—for businesses to run entirely in the cloud. However, integration issues persist, since most businesses employ a range of software products from different vendors.

One of the biggest advantages of moving to a subscription-based service is that there is usually little or no upfront implementation cost. However, maintaining the integrations that connect multiple applications from different vendors can bloat the budget, requiring a business to hire expensive developers to implement, update, and repair the system regularly.

These issues can be resolved to a large extent if businesses buy all their software from a single vendor. However, many larger vendors grow their software suites by acquiring smaller startups instead of building their products themselves, based on their own technology stacks. Ultimately, this doesn't solve the integration challenge, as these kinds of "Frankenstein suites" are still comprised of disparate systems, just with the same brand name.

However, there is one solution that has been built from the ground up on the same backend technologies and databases: Zoho One, a unified suite of over 40 apps, covering nearly every function a business needs. The products in this sort of unified suite integrate more easily and more deeply than other business apps. In an organization run on Zoho One, information flows freely between departments and roles, giving decision-makers a truly comprehensive view of their entire operation. That 360-degree view—unifying marketing, sales, support, finance, HR and much more—provides a competitive advantage that traditional organizations can only dream of.

Even after those integrations are up and running, employees still have to sign-in to a variety of applications, each with their own UI and terminology. As all these applications are built on different platforms, the best a developer can do is make these applications talk to each other. Seamless connectivity in these circumstances is impossible because of deep incompatibilities in the code or database architecture of the two services. There is also often a lack of context because the integrations are limited by the APIs that these software vendors provide.

Brief about ZOHO

Zoho is the operating system for business—a single online platform capable of running an entire business. With apps in nearly every major business category, including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting and back office operations, and an array of productivity and collaboration tools, Zoho is the world's most prolific software company. More than 35 million users around the world, across hundreds of thousands of companies, rely on Zoho every day to run their businesses, including Zoho itself.