Change is hard and like anyone working in technology, I’ve had to make many changes when new innovations came about. Reflecting on my 18 years of working in the industry, I find that these changes are not something to be feared but rather invigorate and continually drive me to stay in this space. Of all the new technologies I’ve adopted, the most significant was becoming acquainted with Salesforce. It quickly became both a business pursuit and a passion. The community and mentorship that has developed around this piece of technology is astounding and I attribute much of my success to my Salesforce family. Salesforce took the idea of Customer Relationship Management to a new level, creating a full ecosystem of processes and capabilities that allowed you to use Salesforce as the hub for all things customer related and build a platform to extend however your organization needed.
As I began to dig deeper into the world of cloud apps, it became very clear that the next big issue was getting these amazing, best of breed cloud apps like Salesforce to automatically share data with the many other cloud apps completing other aspects of the business. Things like marketing, accounting, e-commerce and so on. Integration tools have been available for quite some time, all taking different shapes and offering different capabilities. But very few empower me with true automation.
For me, automation means work continues to get done while I play legos with my kids, get a good night’s sleep, and work on higher level business activities. Today, as a mother of two, Salesforce MVP, leader of the New Hampshire Salesforce User Group, and Director of Strategic Projects & Salesforce Evangelist at Workato, I couldn’t do my job with the same level of efficiency if I didn’t have the ability to quickly and easily automate entire workflows without any coding.
The Problem with Most Integration Tools
The majority of Salesforce Administrators do not know how to full on code. Meanwhile, development is one of the most strained and consistently busy departments of any company doing some form of business with multiple applications, making custom solutions often a last resort. That’s why I’ve explored nearly every integration product on the market over my career and most fall into one of the 5 categories below:
1. Too Simplistic
Most no-code, DIY integration tools fall into this category. They simply are not robust enough to handle complex mapping, weed out duplicates, or support custom objects. These tools are just clunky and limited, blindly moving information in one direction which can often make them more trouble than they’re worth. Moving bad data will be far more costly than not moving the data at all. I want to be able to “set it and forget,” not deal with duplicate leads and fake accounts.
2. Too Expensive
Integration can save you a lot of time and eliminate the really boring manual processes of exporting and uploading information. If your integration can control for duplicates and has error handling then the ROI is truly incredible. The number one thing that drives down that ROI? How expensive custom solutions, IT Teams, or certain enterprise solutions can be. The start up costs will not only be insane, but it will take months to implement. With maintenance and upkeep costs you may never achieve a good ROI and frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to pay more for tools to integrate your apps than you pay for the apps themselves.
3. Too Isolating
One of the best things about Salesforce is the community that wraps itself around the product. I want this in an automation tool too – I want to be able to see how other solved problems similar to my own. Community is important because it’s very likely that thousands of others have already spent a lot of time working through the same integration problem that you have. Why re-invent the wheel for every new project when you can see what others have done and simply customize the solution to your needs? Unfortunately, most tools today have no learning center and no sense of community.
4. Complicated and Scary
The “bigger” tools many enterprise companies might use are complicated, expensive and look intimidating. They are hard to use, involve more code, and have a steep learning curve. This is the opposite of being agile; it is the opposite of empowering me to make my life, and the lives of my company & customers, better. Today, companies need integration options that are as powerful as these complicated tools but can quickly and easily evolve with a growing company.
5. Doesn’t Actually Automate
When creating solutions to problems I think of full business processes and traditional integration has always seemed to be about moving data from point A to point B. That simply does not interest me. Instead, making meaningful action from that data and to apply the data to a process is what true automation is. I want to eliminate human interaction from several steps of a business process and use the valuable resource time for what is important. To do this, you need a tool that also thinks in business processes, not one-off data dumps.
Workato: The Modern Tool of Choice
I can honestly say that Workato doesn’t fall into any of the 5 categories above, and that’s because it was created by a team that previously created some of the biggest tools at Oracle, Tibco, and Force.com who wanted to bring that power to the masses. When I first tried Workato, I realized it was something completely new and ultimately that it was going to be a driver of change. The heart of Workato’s automation platform is that I am empowered. I can control for duplicates, create complex data mapping, think in business processes and have no need to code. I can easily change my recipes (what Workato calls their automation workflows) as the scenario changes, or add new cloud apps into the flow as they become important. The other integration tools simply do not have enough power or do not allow me to just pick it up and run with it.
I joined the Workato team after Dreamforce 2015, but before that I was simply a customer and a fan of Workato at a popular Salesforce consulting group. If you had asked me if building integration & automation between Salesforce and financial systems was something I could take on before my introduction to Workato, my answer would have been a resounding NO. Workato changed all of that. A whole new world of capabilities were available to me. I began helping clients achieve integration with Salesforce and financial applications and I did not need to outsource the project and no coders were used. Me, and my technical business analyst skills were rocking out some awesome integration & automation. I believe so strongly that this product is impactful and the next wave of innovation in the integration space that I knew I needed to be part of this team – it also helps that the team is awesome! I believe Workato truly is the best tool for Salesforce integration on the market, but you don’t have to take my word for it – head over to the AppExchange listing and see for yourself!
Questions? Want to start automating your workflow? Contact Sharon via Email or follow her on Twitter.