Remember the time when automation and integration were the penchants of big corporations? We do! And we don’t remember it fondly at all. In fact, it’s the reason why we entered this industry.
Understandably, back then most small businesses couldn’t bankroll such an undertaking even if their survival depended on it.
Luckily, this inaccurate and totally misleading notion is starting to be obsolete. Sure, you can still find companies that charge an arm and a leg (think thousands of USD/month) for basic automation. But the good news is that you don’t need to use those services or none at all anymore.
Businesses today are aware that automation and integration can save them time and money not to mention giving them that much-needed edge. With the increase in integration adoption, the prices became friendlier, too.
Eighty percent of marketing automation users have experienced a significant increase in the number of leads after successfully deploying automation software in their overall marketing strategy.
So, unlike at the beginning of iPaaS and automation where these services were exclusively for big companies that could afford to create their own software or pay expensive external teams, automation and integration have now become for everyone.
Businesses no longer have to build automation and integration on their own anymore.
Here’s an interesting story of how Jendco Safety Supply – an eCommerce company that specializes in safety products, discovered plug-and-play integration that meets all their demands.
Jendco tried to write their own integration between ActiveCampaign and NetSuite to help them manage their leads and accounts. But they quickly realized that this would mean countless man-hours of coding and that it would undoubtedly lead to a glitchy system that didn’t work most of the time.
After thorough research, the Jendco team discovered SyncApps, which allowed them to connect ActiveCampaign and NetSuite seamlessly and effortlessly. According to Jendco, their ActiveCampaign for NetSuite integration was super easy to use and the return on investment has been phenomenal not to mention the unbeatable price.
It is evident that for any business looking for sustained organic growth and increased customer retention, automation and integration are the way to go. However, automation and integration should be approached strategically.
To make it work and deliver what your business needs to succeed, you need to, first and foremost, identify which areas or tasks need to be automated.
What Should You Automate
The first rule of thumb is to start small. You don’t have to automate everything at once. Like mentioned earlier, step back and pinpoint tasks that are repetitive and don’t necessarily require manual input from your team.
Zero in on business processes that consume time and distract your team from more meaningful and strategic tasks. Integration and automation are scalable, so your business can grow anytime and at an affordable pace as well.
1. Data migration: If you have been struggling with the process of moving data between two systems, then it is advisable that you should seriously consider automating your data migration process, especially if you use more than one system (CRM and email marketing automation, for instance).
2. Customer support: 34.9 percent of consumers would rather talk to a business via SMS than a phone call. Are you ready to pay an employee to sit and reply to all the text messages that customers send? Absolutely not.
Automating your customer support function using chatbots will enable you to efficiently and effectively respond to all your customer queries. Truth be told, most of the queries are repetitive and this is something automation can handle and still maintain consistency in messaging.
Chatbots are always available and can be delivered through popular messaging apps like Messenger, WeChat among others.
3. Digital signatures: Signatures can cause unwanted delays, especially if the executive(s) needed to sign important documents are either out of the office attending equally important meetings or are just not available at the time.
Thanks to technology, digital signatures have now become the go-to solution for many businesses that need to drastically reduce delays.
Tools such as Docusign, which is ideal for businesses that require a lot of signatures, Hellosign, which is perfect for businesses that are heavy on integration and cloud computing, or Docskech for small businesses looking for a free-forever plan, work really great.
4. Reporting: Despite the widespread use of automation and integration solutions, many businesses across the globe still subject their employees to manual collection and manipulation of critical data. You can imagine the risk this puts on businesses.
It’s no wonder the rate of data loss and misrepresentation is still high. Spreadsheets are particularly notorious error magnets. Throw in the human element and the odds for errors go up significantly.
In 2012, a spreadsheet error – a simple cut-and-paste mistake, was reported to have cost JP Morgan over US$ 6 billion when a Value at Risk model was miscalculated. This is an error that can cripple your small business and a good reason why tasks such as reporting must be automated.
These are just some of the critical areas where automation comes highly recommended. But as you embark on your business processes automation journey, please take time to reevaluate your short-term to long-term needs and ensure that they are aligned to your overall business objective.
Critically look at areas that automation can work better and deliver optimal results every time. Consider the risk factor and how automating certain tasks can help you to avoid them.
When you are ready, consult an automation expert to guide you in picking out the most suitable, user-friendly and cost-effective automation solution.
How to Find an Automation and Integration Provider That Meets Your Needs and Fits Your Budget
Finding the ideal automation and integration partner will determine the effectiveness of the tasks you want to automate and integrate. To make sure that you get the bang for your buck, you need to look for the following must-have attributes:
- Scalability: As your business grows so will your automation and integration needs. You, therefore, need a solution that will allow your business to scale up without the need to change platforms.
- Easy-to-integrate solutions: Your ideal automation and integration partner should also be able to incorporate all the systems that you’ve been using without unnecessary downtime. For instance, SyncApps has over 150 integration solutions that can integrate a wide range of software that most businesses use daily to run their operations.
- Budget: Unlike in the past, integration is now affordable. The cost of deployment and subsequent upgrades should fit your budget. A good place to start is a basic integration plan then gradually scale up when you need to. At SyncApps for instance, we offer 100% FREE plans that allow you to comfortably migrate to paid ones when the time is right. Go ahead, try them!
- Customer support: If you’re new to integration, you will need someone to help you navigate the setup and monitoring to get the best out of the integration. You’ll be happy to know that SyncApps guarantees 24/7 customer support, even for free plans.
- Security: This one goes without saying. The security of your data is paramount and should be a priority. As you choose your integration and automation partner, ensure that their package comes with a robust data security mechanism to prevent data loss or leakage.
- Ease of use: User experience (UX) is another equally important factor to consider when choosing an automation and integration partner. If your team experiences difficulties in using the platform then you will not reap its benefits. So, look for a platform that has a strong and easy-to-use UX and one that requires zero coding, especially for teams that aren’t tech-savvy.
Integration and automation are extremely affordable if you choose the right partner. The iPaaS market has grown exponentially registering a compound annual growth rate of 41.5 percent to hit US$2,998.3 million in 2021 compared to US$528 million in 2016.
This growth shows that pretty much everyone is using it, including SMEs that had a price barrier before. If you haven’t joined the automation and integration bandwagon then you are missing out on a golden opportunity to not only improve your team’s productivity and creativity but also enhance your chance to boost your customer experience.