In this blog series, we’ll walk through key elements of Automation for Growth: Using Integration as a Competitive Advantage. To kick the series off, let’s take a look at the challenge of SaaS sprawl, and how it presents opportunities for automating your business processes with integration.
Once upon a time, there was a SaaS application
Over twenty years ago, Concur burst onto the scene as one of the first commercially available cloud applications. Salesforce followed a few years afterwards, with ‘no software’ as their infamous rallying cry. Fast forward to 2020: while both applications are still widely used, today’s SaaS landscape looks significantly different with an app for almost every business function. At last count, the number was estimated to be over 10,000 apps and growing. The challenge now is SaaS sprawl: how do you manage the proliferation of applications across the enterprise to drive growth, rather than stall it?
One market driving the consumption of best-of-breed SaaS apps are other high growth SaaS and product companies. These types of businesses tend to be all-digital and adopt new technologies to accelerate growth and solve business challenges — quickly. The remarkable success of companies like Salesforce and Concur removed the barriers to entry for smaller businesses with their respective technologies. On average, a high-growth SaaS company in the mid-market spends approximately $2.47 million on SaaS apps, representing 185 different applications. Smaller companies on average make use of 100 SaaS applications. 
When the barriers to entry are removed — smaller companies can compete successfully in cutthroat markets and become giants.
While there is an application for almost everything, not all apps are born equal and there is a natural hierarchy. As organizations scale, they continually adopt new apps to manage different functions of the business. Based on what we’ve seen from our customers and real world observations of scaling businesses — it starts with foundational apps. These apps leave a broad footprint across the enterprise by serving as the systems of record for key business objects like leads, accounts, employees, vendors, purchase orders, etc .
Foundational apps fall into the three categories: Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Human Capital Management (HCM). These types of applications manage key business processes of an enterprise and the applications other apps need access to.
As a business grows and scales, their needs become more sophisticated. As they attempt to solve business challenges specific to departments, they must take care not to let application sprawl hinder the efficiency of organization. Without a strategy and solution for integrating applications organizations are vulnerable to fragmentation.
What is Fragmentation?
Fragmentation is when the business process becomes broken or fragmented across applications. Business processes live on top of applications, essentially forming the Operating System (OS) for the enterprise, or the central nervous system. As apps are added the process can become more fragmented with increasing data silos. Fragmentation can become a roadblock to organizations as they scale.
To solve or avoid fragmentation, you need to automate business processes to create a common experience. In a typical scenario, an organization might start with a CRM and ERP. Using the example of a quote-to-cash process for a SaaS company, a salesperson creates an opportunity. That opportunity at some point becomes a quote that needs to be sent to the customer as a proposal. The deal desk might get involved at this stage. The sales order needs to be booked (oftentimes happening with sales ops), and then the order needs to be approved. Once it’s approved, the license for the software subscription needs to be provisioned. The customer then needs to be invoiced and ultimately collect payments.
This whole process involves many different people from multiple departments. When the process isn’t automated, the resulting fragmentation decreases agility which makes it challenging to scale.
The solution is connecting enterprise applications through integration to automate business processes creating a common, seamless experience — or a connected enterprise. There are numerous options for integrating applications, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s skip to the one that provides the best short- and long-term value for fast-growing companies that need to remain agile.
An Integration Platform as a Services (iPaaS) enables your organization to quickly integrate your applications with pre-built integrations and flows, with the ability to customize integrations to your organization’s unique business challenges. An iPaaS like Celigo’s integrator.io is a centralized way to manage and monitor your integrations, handle errors, recover and resolve.
In our next blog post, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of iPaaS, or you can fast forward by listening to the webinar, Automation for Growth: Using Integration as a Competitive Advantage.