iPaaS vs enterprise automation: here’s how they differ

If your business could do everything from a single app, life would be simple.

The reality is more complex. It’s not uncommon to rely on dozens of apps to perform key processes–like onboarding new talent, managing order to cash, and routing leads.

You can use native integrations to help your apps play nice together for some time, but your business will mature beyond these eventually. At that point, you’ll need to adopt a more robust integration platform that gives you more control over security and governance.

You’ll have two options to consider: an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) and an enterprise automation platform.

Both make it possible for data to flow between apps. However, there are major differences between the two—and iPaaS, in particular, may not meet the needs of your organization. The right integration platform lets you increase collaboration, improve efficiency, and grow revenue, while the wrong one will leave you at the mercy of punishing backlogs and frustrated colleagues.

To help you decide which is right for your business, we’ll review each and then break down their key differences.

Discover the best way to integrate a fast-growing stack by reading the ebook, “The Next Phase of iPaaS.”

What is an iPaaS?

An iPaaS is a cloud-based solution that lets you build integrations between cloud and on-premise apps, develop data flows between them, and deploy these flows. 

An iPaaS is built for developers who know how to code effectively with APIs. Moreover, they give IT total control over the organization’s integration ecosystem, which includes hard-coded connectors.

Related: How iPaaS and PaaS are different

What is an enterprise automation platform?

An enterprise automation platform is a cloud-based solution that lets you integrate your systems and run workflow automations that work across your applications, data, and employees.

You don’t need to know how to code to use enterprise automation software, you just need to understand the ins and outs of your business processes. Also, instead of hard coding connectors, you can integrate apps and databases by leveraging the enterprise automation platform’s pre-built connectors; where once the integrations are built, the platform lets you build and modify automations in a low-code/no-code interface utilizing features like drag and drop.

An example of a workflow automation where once a new lead gets created in Salesforce, it gets added to Marketo
An example of a workflow automation built in an enterprise automation platform
Identify the iPaaS solution that’s best for your business by following the steps outlined in our buying guide.

The key differences between the two

As you evaluate your options, keep these two differences in mind:

An iPaaS can only be used by IT, while enterprise automation can also be adopted by business users

You’ll need IT bandwidth to actively manage an iPaaS. More specifically, as your stack grows, IT will need to spend more time integrating a new app with the rest of the stack.

While this sounds ok, our research shows that many IT departments can’t meet the business demand for integration and automation on their own. More than 80% of IT professionals say their team is backlogged with unfinished application integrations and workflow automations. And even once an integration gets built, the lengthy time frame involved in establishing it leaves it at risk of quickly becoming outdated.

An iPaaS can also require significant time investments from business teams. For any given integration project, employees within a business team need to explain the process to IT, follow its development, and evaluate whether the final product fulfills the business request. And while all this is happening, business teams are skeptical: Almost 50% of line of business employees don’t strongly trust iPaaS users to build integrations and automations that benefit them.

With an enterprise automation platform, on the other hand, the employee who understands the process best can build and maintain the solution, while IT can focus on the security and governance measures behind the scenes.

Related: How enterprise automation overcomes the challenges of an iPaaS

You can integrate with iPaaS, but enterprise automation lets you build intelligent automations too

An iPaaS can surface new and interesting data inside a relevant app, say Salesforce or Marketo, but employees will need to manually act on the outcome of the integration.

That’s where intelligent automations can help. 

Using an enterprise automation platform, you can build trigger-based automations that spur your employees to action.

As an example, let’s say a former buyer switches roles (which a data enrichment tool can uncover). A platform bot can message a specific channel in your business communications platform (e.g. Slack), where the message can include: the lead’s old role, their new one, a link to their account in your CRM, and a set of buttons for responding to the lead—such as adding them to a relevant nurture campaign. 

As our example shows, an enterprise automation platform opens up a whole new world of possibilities. This includes the ability to use platform bots that can bring automations directly to the apps your employees already work in—whether that’s Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Workplace.

Related: What is a visual workflow builder?

Perform enterprise automation with Workato 

You don’t have to look too far into the future to see a point where iPaaS converges completely with enterprise automation software. 

For years, iPaaS vendors have been adding features that push them closer to the more innovative enterprise automation category. Workato—the leading enterprise automation platform and a standout performer across prominent review sites and analyst firms—is already there.

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