Saas Integration: Trends & Players

      3 Comments on Saas Integration: Trends & Players

Note: entry originally published in November 2014, maintained regularly since then.

By definition Software as a Service is easier to roll out than on-premises software because you don’t have to install it on your own servers, let alone desktops or mobile devices. This favors a best-of-breed approach rather than picking monolithic suites from the same vendor. That alone is a big market shift from the steamrolling that Microsoft was able to inflict in the 90s on the desktop with Office, and to a lesser extent on servers with what was then known as BackOffice. Over the past decades, IBM became DEC, Microsoft became IBM, Google became Microsoft, and a thousand SaaS players are now blooming – though none of them has quite become the next Google yet. Facebook and Apple, consumer companies at heart, are shunning this market for the most part .

As of the mid 2010s there’s SaaS not just for broad enterprise functions such marketing, sales, or HR, but it’s also getting very granular within these functions. The “tech marketing” space has been booming for years with ever more targeted applications (split tests for freemium mobile games anyone?) mushrooming every day, while other functions such as HR have been receiving increased attention as of late.

Which means team, departments and whole organizations increasingly need to integrate this plethora of applications, especially if they’re trying to, say, build a common view of their customers.Like most things SaaS, Salesforce has led the charge years ago to the point of turning into a platform. Beyond granddaddy SFDC, the marketplace has responded with the emergence of SaaS middleware, as well as an increased number of bilateral integration efforts among vendors. Microsoft has also shown keen interest in this category. This is what this entry is about.

MiddleWaare

The following vendors are primarily pitching themselves as integration tools. Some are pure middleware (i.e. you can’t do much with them by themselves), while others want users to spend quality time in them once data has been sucked in from external sources.

VendorPurposeSummaryAppsPricingStatusMore Info
ZapierTask automationStrong momentum, with a distributed team of 40+ people as of mid-2016.. You often see them mentioned by other vendors. It's IFTTT for business, doesn't sync data. I like the team, they're good at support and marketing.500+$0-$100+/moStatus page - TwitterAL, LI
Microsoft FlowTask automationBeyond Microsoft's own app, there's SFDC, several Google apps, Slack... Embrace and Extend!60+Free-$15/user/mo
CloudpipesTask automationLaunched publicly in 2016. Not sure how they plan to differentiate.300+$59+/moStatus pageAL, LI
CloudWorkTask automationNubera knows SaaS well thanks to their GetApp portal, and this looked originally like a Zapier clone.90+As of mid-2016 the integration product seems to be gone, all is left is a directory. They originally had plans going from free to $50/mo.AL, LI
Automate.ioTask automationLaunched in 2015, looks like an also ran.About 50Free-$199+/moAL
Tray.ioTask automationEmerged out of stealth as of the spring 2015. Interesting spin: generates Docker containers that you can then run in your own infrastructure. The loops and conditional workflows remind of Yahoo Pipes.$0-$499/moStatus pageAL, LI
Apiant (formerly We Wired Web)Task automationSeems the closest to the defunct Yahoo Pipes.$4-$69/moAL, LI
Pipefy$7-$28/user/moAL, LI
Workato40+ people as of mid-2016. Like Tray.io they underline that they have data mapping/modeling/quality, beyond simple integration workflow.About 90$99-$1999/mo, enterprise pricing used to be $499/mo.LI
Bedrock DataData syncData integration focused on marketing and CRM apps. 25+ people as of mid-2016.50+$99-$999+/mon/aAL, LI
KevyData syncInitially it looked like it was most directly competing with Bedrock. Pivoted to focusing on ecommerce in 2015, a la Bronto.60+$250-$1,200+/mo, they too moved upmarket, from $100-$500/mo.n/aAL, LI
OneSaasData syncNot as visible or connected as some others, probably because of its location in Australia. Doesn't seem very active either.40+$29-$99/mon/aAL, LI
PipeThruData syncPersonal project, not that there's anything wrong with that
40+$0-$99
SegmentEvent/data integrationSeems to have momentum, with about 100 people as of mid-2016. Good documentation and easy to implement.100+$0-$100+/moTwitter, webAL, LI
mParticleData integrationLike Segment but focused on mobile, more expensive.Used to be from $199/mo, they removed their pricing page. If you have to ask, you can't afford it.n/aAL, LI
TropicalData consolidationSomewhere between Bedrock and Woopra, positioning-wise. Pitch focused on lead/customer profiles.50+From $89/mon/aAL, LI
BlockspringData connectionUnique for its data connectors and focus on spreadsheets.100+From $29/moStatus page
AdeptiaEnterprise ETL20+From $15/mo
Snap LogicEnterprise ETLOlder and better funded, but should pay heed to its younger competitors.20+If You Have to Ask You Can't Afford ItAL, LI
Mulesoft CloudHubEnterprise ETLThe best funded and oldest. SFDC or Oracle will probably buy them soon.100+From $1,200/mon/aAL, LI
Built.io FlowEnterprise ETLTheir pitch: "Powerful like MuleSoft, intuitive like IFTTT." Founded in 2007, 200 people.100+StatusPageAL, LI
Cloud ElementsAPI integrationThey target application providers and developers rather than end users, thus competing with Zapier Developer.Hubs$1K-$5K+/moAL, LI

I am roughly mapping above the “cloud connectors” box within chiefmartec’s landscape (the clostest thing at Growthverse is “data centralization”). This list is not exhaustive and leaves out more traditional vendors such as Adeptia for whom SaaS-SaaS integration is an afterthought (vs. Saas to on-premises applications and databases), or IFTTT given its consumer focus. Also I’m more interested in affordable tools that people in small businesses or corporate departments can pay right there with a credit card.

I’m sure I missed quite a few services if they’re less visible or focused on relatively narrow enterprise needs (e.g. Attunity mostly focused on moving big data – there’s no lack of boring enterprise software).  Kudos to Zapier for their Hollywood-inspired way to namedrop for SEO purposes: it’s like Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman, huh I mean, it’s ExactTarget meets Zendesk, and it sure gives them plenty of bottom-up visibility.

There are also a couple self-hosted alternatives such as Node-RED, but they’re not nearly as marketer-friendly/non-technical. Trigger-Happy wants to be an “open source clone of IFTTT”, but the number of supported services is tiny. Cenit IO lists a good number of APIs and webhooks, I’m not sure it’s seeing that much use though. A lot of the mid-2010s SaaS explosion is driven by marketing and sales, the users/buyers there don’t care that much about open source and mostly seek something really easy to use.

To some extent, more and more apps will want to have some integration layer, and it is likely that middleware vendors will gravitate up the food chain as mere plumbing becomes commoditized, if only via webhooks (which happen to have a dedicated management platform SaaS in webhooks.io). This category ultimately overlaps with business process management and team workflow, and I could see Zapier merge with a service such as Process StreetKissflow, or Flozku. at some point.

Paartnerships

As I said the lines are often blurry between application categories, as vendors learn from each other and end up in similar places from different starting points. Thus, Keen.io (status pageAL) is nominally focused on analytics, but they also heavily rely on their data collection APIs and integration points. So they may market themselves differently from Segment, but in the end they may look increasingly similar. Likewise Woopra’s point of departure is customer analytics, but to get there they pitch the 20+ apps available through AppConnect.

In other words, do you buy Woopra for the analytics and get integration for free, or is integration going to be a big selling point for them? Is it a case of come for the integration, stay for the visualization or automation or analytics or {insert whatever your app does between apps and their data}, or is it come for the visualization, stay for the integration?

Eventually more and more vendors will want to integrate with each other, whether directly or through 3rd-party hubs. Some products such as TrialFire or Popcorn Metrics look more like features to me than the foundation for a lasting stand-alone company. On the other hand a case can be made that companies like Zapier should remain independent as ubiquitous, neutral brokers. Many people may not be comfortable having powerful companies such as Google or Oracle own their critical middleware.

I think some of these companies will look more and more alike, as it only makes sense that, say, Segment turns into a hub that can not only write into a bunch of apps, but also read from these same apps as a bidirectional connector.

Expect to see a lot more apps touting integrations in months to come. Some quick sampling:

Why People Waant It, And Does It Really Work?

Well, you should ask them, but I think the business case is pretty clear:

It’s quite telling that SendinBlue’s CEO would mention integration in the Post Scriptum of their welcome email. (For people who have never worked in direct response, the PS section is traditionally seen as a high-value area that people might read even if they’ve just scanned through the whole thing so far.)

Bien joué Armand !

What to Do With the Data?

While this market segment is known as Integration platform as a service (iPaaS), an adjacent type of service has been emerging to handle large volumes of data flowing from app to app. These are known as “data pipelines”, including:

These players started to appear with the emergence of big cloud data warehouses such as Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery. Aside from Blendo, they tend to cost at least $5K-$10K/year, putting them out of reach of smaller businesses, which usually dump their data in (online) spreadsheets.

But dumping data in Google Sheets does not scale well nor does it offer referential integrity. A sounder approach compatible with SME budgets comes with products like Airtable and Fieldbook that look like a spreadsheet but are databases underneath.

Updates & Developments

07/26/17 – Where Zapier Falls Short – Shots fired by Bedrock Data!

07/18/17Workato raised $16M

05/04/17 – Zapier launches $250/month team accounts.

11/17/16 – Tray.io raises $5M Series A.

04/27/16Microsoft announces Flow as a public preview. General availability follows on October 31.

03/15/16 – itDuzzit Shutting Down:

In August 2014, we announced that Intuit acquired itDuzzit. Since then, we’ve made some great progress with integrating itDuzzit into the Intuit ecosystem. At Intuit, our technology has been re-branded as Intuit AppConnect, and is already powering a significant share of QuickBooks integrations. What does this mean for itDuzzit customers and partners? There’s no easy way to say this – most of you will not have a migration path from itDuzzit to Intuit AppConnect. […] The itDuzzit service is planned for an end-of-life date of July 15, 2016.

Workato jumped on the opportunity.

02/01/16 – Zapier adds multi-step workflows.

01/13/16Cloud Elements Raises $5M.

12/12/15 – SnapLogic Raises $37.5M

10/09/15 – Segment Raises $27 Million Series B 

06/19/15 – SaaS and The Integration Economy

07/23/15 – Pipefy gets $300K seed from 500 Startups.

05/19/15 – DataHero raises $6.1M

05/15/15 – The future of SaaS (partnerships), by Mike Koop, Zapier co-founder

05/10/15What’s Happening in SaaS in 11 Charts

05/05/15 – Dasheroo raises $3M

04/16/15 – Tray.io raises $2.2M

04/14/15 – Bedrock Data raises $3.1M

04/08/15 – Domo at public launch comes with hundreds of connectors.

03/30/15Cyfe dashboarding + Zapier

3 thoughts on “Saas Integration: Trends & Players

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *