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Why Digital Experience Needs Powerful Integrations – Webinar Highlights

As many organisations are discovering, the hardest technical challenge in delivering a customer experience (CX) that works (is seamless, fast, relevant and omnichannel), is building a tech stack that is fully integrated.

Not only are custom integrations complex and time-consuming, they’re also hugely expensive, with Gartner predicting that, by 2021, 85% of the effort and cost involved in a DXP program will be spent on integrations with internal and external systems (CMSWire, 2020).

But why, exactly, are integrations so difficult? And, with more riding on CX than ever before, how can your organisation make the right choice for a future-proof, low-risk mar-tech stack?

Cassandra Theocharous

Written by

Cassandra Theocharous
Marketing Manager
13 August 2020

In their recent webinar Why Digital Experience Creation Needs Powerful Integrations Anthony Nigro (Squiz GM) and Niamh Connell (Squiz Connect, Product Manager), answered these questions and more. Obviously, we’d advise watching the full webinar, to hear everything that Anthony and Niamh had to say; but, for the highlights, keep reading.

Anthony kicked off the session by asking viewers three questions:

  • How many applications do you have that play a direct role in delivering services and experiences to your customers?
  • How many don’t play a direct role but house relevant customer data?
  • How often do these apps change or do you add to the stack to expand your CX functionality?

For many, the answers to these questions are complicated and anxiety-inducing. Anthony swiftly moved onto a more optimistic vision, proposing a solution that could enable teams to:

  • Easily access data from across the organisation to deliver experiences
  • Do more, rather than needing wider support and
  • Remove requests for custom integrations and integration maintenance from the IT backlog

Why are integrations so difficult?

The answer to this isn’t simple – but, having worked across roles on both sides of the business, Anthony’s answer started by dissecting the natural tension between marketing and IT teams. “The modern marcomms team is heavily focused on customer data – acquiring new customers, generating ROI and generally making their organisation shine”, he explains. “They understand how technology can assist and are forward in trying new tools on their journey towards cross-channel communication and engagement. In essence, a lot of them have become technologists”.

Under ever-increasing pressure to deliver greater ROI from their marketing spend, marketing teams pay close attention to what they need to repeat and what to start using at scale. In order to scale, they need technology and automation… enter the IT team.

With a background in IT, Anthony is all too aware of the IT department stereotype – that of a team fixated on slowing down advancement, limiting interactions and restricting new technology use: everything that marketing is against. “In reality, the IT team is extremely important – it needs to consider the overall technical footprint of an organisation and be conscious of security in a technical landscape that’s constantly changing. IT wants to see the organisation advance – but also to ensure the organisation’s eco-system remains safe”.

number of apps per company

A chart, indicating the average number of apps that small to enterprise-level businesses accumulate within their tech stacks, revealed just how much of a challenge IT has on its hands. Securing and maintaining an IT ecosystem suddenly seems almost impossible, when that ecosystem contains more than 200 apps. This, explains Anthony, is where marcomms/IT gap (MIG) can occur.

new tool

The MIG problem is largely technology-driven, due to time constraints and the complexity of the integration, but can take weeks, months or even years to breach. Naturally, MIGs are hugely frustrating for both sides of the business and can have a big impact on the business. Now, more than ever, businesses need to be able to react swiftly to changing customer needs – which is impossible to achieve when teams are working at odds with each other and funneling time and resources into integrations.

In an effort to bridge the MIG, Anthony revealed that many organisations are creating ‘marketing technologist’ roles – effectively bringing more IT knowledge to the marketing team. However, while this might improve decision making, it doesn’t solve the ultimate issue of fast and effective integration.

How to make the right martech choice?

Another approach to solving the MIG problem is through technology; and for organisations looking to tackle integration challenges head-on, there are two very distinct approaches:

  • Best of Breed – an open ecosystem, allowing you to choose ‘best of breed’ technology based on your unique needs.
    vs
  • All-inclusive ecosystem – a closed system, which looks to bring pre-integrated technologies under one vendor ecosystem. While this approach offers speed to market, it also limits use of ‘best of breed’ technology.

(To find out more about the pros and cons of open vs closed DXPs, check out our previous post, The DXP Debate).

iPaaS – bridging the gap

Combining the open, cloud-based advantages of an iPaaS with the powerful CX capabilities of a digital experience platform (DXP) solves integration challenges for both marketing and IT. For marketers, an iPaaS solution offers the ability to control, orchestrate and drive multichannel experiences; for IT, it presents a solution with known security models and key, pre-existing integrations, enabling them to deliver faster.

The Business case for an iPaaS:

At this point, Anthony handed over to Niamh, who presented the key benefits of iPaaS solutions, for those looking to make a business case within their organisations:

  • Speed – most importantly, an iPaaS offers the ability to rapidly integrate systems, applications and data in a single platform.
  • Simplicity – many iPaaS solutions offer an intuitive UI, removing the steep learning curve for new users and encouraging teams to take ownership of their own integrations.
  • Flexibility – the ability to integrate any system and connect data from any source means your organisation can build virtually anything, fostering innovation.
  • Lower total cost of ownership – iPaaS integrations are faster to complete and simpler to maintain; and the work for both is spread across more teams meaning lower cost and lower risk. With custom integrations sucking up a fraction of the time and resources, the total cost of ownership is significantly reduced.

Squiz Connect – a sneak preview

If you’ve been following the Squiz blog, you’ll already be familiar with our newest upcoming release: Squiz Connect. During her session, Niamh gave viewers a sneak preview of Squiz Connect with an interactive demo, as well as an under-the-hood view of how the integrations work at the back-end for users. (To watch Niamh’s demo, head to the on-demand webinar and skip to 18mins 30seconds).

Squiz Connect is an iPaaS that’s purpose-built for digital teams struggling to integrate their tech stacks. Squiz Connect’s pre-built components enable organisations to create a digital ecosystem with rapid data flow between Squiz products and other digital applications, systems and technologies.

connect

To help explain further, Niamh shared a diagram of Squiz Connect’s simplified integration approach, with the iPaaS sitting in the centre of the martech stack. “By using Connect you can share data across your ecosystem easily integrating all of your applications to ensure you’re getting the best out of each investment – without the need for custom code”, she explains. “With a central platform for each integration the effort, cost and risk of each integration decreases”.

While out-of-the-box connectors can appear temptingly simple, Niamh warns that they’re based around the use cases and capabilities that the vendor has deemed most important – not those that fit your needs. Squiz Connect enables your organisation to control its own destiny – not only shaping the experiences you want to deliver but the tools and ways of working to deliver them. Even where Squiz Connect offers pre-built elements to help you on your way, these provide a baseline, not a constraint, and users can extend or change them as needed.

To learn more about Squiz Connect, visit: squiz.net/connect

Cassandra Theocharous

Written by

Cassandra Theocharous
Marketing Manager
13 August 2020

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