The question of customer adoption and monetization is a timeless struggle for any software business, but none more so than when you offer a cloud solution. However, many SaaS vendors assert that the first step to growing a business is to offer an Application Programming Interface (API) to their solution. The reason is simple. APIs create new routes to market, increase agility and lay the foundation for competitive disruption.
In today’s organizations, it’s common for IT departments to adopt various cloud applications via APIs for specific business functions and combine multiple SaaS solutions to form a best-of-breed technology stack. The ability to easily add new cloud applications into a business flow has become the deciding factor when purchasing new software solutions. As a result, “ease of integration” is now at the top of the priority list for SaaS development and product teams alike.
Many SaaS vendors are asking what attributes they should consider to ensure their cloud solutions are readily adopted. At Blendr.io, now a part of Qlik, we’ve contributed to the roll out and expansion of native-API integration offerings for more than one hundred SaaS companies. In our view, there are three major components to a SaaS adoption strategy: a published API; the availability of a connector on a third-party integration platform; and native integrations inside your SaaS application or platform. Let’s dive into each of the pillars.
1. API-First Strategy
SaaS companies should adopt an API-first strategy, as APIs are the cornerstone of integrations, ecosystems and partnerships. APIs allows SaaS application to be seamlessly integrated as a part of a bigger technology stack. API-first thinking means exposing all of the platform capabilities in an API. Publishing a comprehensive API is crucial for SaaS success through opening up the application to new use cases, increasing customer stickiness and bringing added value to your platform.
2. Provide Connectors to iPaaS Offerings
The second step to expanding adoption is to offer a connector to various Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions. This generally requires relatively low development effort, but, once the connector is added, tested and published, customers can be directed to the iPaaS platform and build integration workflows for themselves.
A connector can help both “citizen” users who are looking for ways to solve basic integration challenges and build basic automation flows, as well as “technical” users who are looking into automating complex workflows between multiple data sources.
3. Native Integrations
The next pillar of the SaaS API adoption strategy is native integrations. From a product view, native integrations are available inside the UI of a SaaS platform, which allows customers to easily activate integrations straight away from the platform. There are ready-to-use integrations and automation workflows for CRMs, marketing, accounting and more.
Why should a SaaS vendor offer native integrations if you already have an API and connectors on iPaaS vendors? Well, not every customer would have a developer available, or would go through the hassle of creating more accounts and looking for support elsewhere.
Native integrations are tailored to a specific platform and, as a result, increase customer stickiness, as customers integrate the rest of their tech stack with your cloud platform.
Sure enough, a development team could code one or two integrations. The challenge for a SaaS vendor, however, is scaling the number of native integrations, as well as having the ability to configure and customize each integration for individual customers.
Blendr.io solves integration challenges by helping SaaS companies scale native integration offerings. Our embedded integration platform is quickly becoming the leading integration strategy for SaaS vendors for one main reason: We accelerate the delivery of native integrations – making data flow seamlessly between your cloud solution and the other apps your customers choose.
For SaaS vendors, publishing a comprehensive API, the availability of your SaaS connector on 3rd-party integration platforms, and offering native integrations to solve the integration challenges of your API users.
Obviously, you cannot add your connector to iPaaS, nor build native integrations without an API available. At Blendr.io, we often receive the question – “What is a good API”? To help you answer that question, we’ve been working with hundreds of APIs and compiled “The Definitive API Checklist: 10 ‘Must-haves’ for SaaS Companies.” Download the eBook here to learn more.