Integrations are essential in the age of the cloud
Integrations can boost the growth of CSPs by meeting customer needs and creating additional income streams. What should you know about planning and deploying integrations in your organization?
Why You Should Care About Integrations
You’re likely using tools from a variety of vendors in your business — the same logic applies to your customers. Enterprises use 129 applications on average in their IT environments, with the figure expected to rise as multi-cloud usage grows. Case in point: a Flexera report concluded that organizations ran almost five clouds on average in 2019.
No matter how advanced your portal is, customers will never be satisfied if it doesn’t contain out-of-the-box integration features. Without it, your customers are forced to pull and sync data by hand, which significantly hampers productivity. Integrations can also be a source of revenue for businesses by charging for the usage of APIs. Salesforce and Expedia are two prominent examples of companies that generate the bulk of their income this way.
Maintaining a robust API ecosystem is vital in general for CSP businesses. Customers will appreciate your capabilities more since they can integrate their existing tools right off the bat. You’ll also find it easier to establish partnerships with other companies, further accelerating your growth through collaboration and increased exposure.
4 Handy Tips for CSPs to Make Use of Integrations
1. Start Small
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when working with integrations for the first time. However, it’s just as easy to get overwhelmed and make little progress when you’re too ambitious. Start slow and get the basics right before you offer advanced features like custom APIs. You’ll encounter fewer errors this way, which is important considering downtime costs businesses $5,600 per minute.
Integrate industry-standard tools (e.g. Salesforce, SAP, PayPal) first to meet most of your customers’ needs. This also makes it easy for non-technical customers to connect their tools with your platform since the difficult parts are already done for them. When your native integrations are stable, then you can pursue open APIs to cater for custom integrations.
2. Establish Real-Time Syncing
CSPs should sync data from Microsoft’s platforms in real-time to ensure all information is up to date. Changes made in Microsoft’s portals should immediately be reflected in your system, too. This ensures your customers always have access to accurate data in real-time.
Doing this also avoids one of the biggest mistakes you can make: having incorrect billing data. Not only will you upset your customers, but you will go against Microsoft’s partner program requirements. Look into billing automation to ease your integration efforts and eliminate the need for manual billing management.
3. Keep Track of Microsoft’s Price Changes and Billing Rules
Microsoft prices and billing rules change all the time, which can lead to problems if you’re not aware of them. Customers are at risk as they may pull incorrect pricing data to their systems. Your costs may also take a hit if your charges are not in line with the updates, which could lead to reselling a product for less than its new price.
You can track the changes by hand, but this takes too much time and effort. A good CSP automation platform circumvents this problem by automatically updating prices when Microsoft makes its changes. This includes SKU updates for new or removed products as well as process automation so you stay compliant with Microsoft’s ever-changing billing rules.
4. Make Sure Your APIs Are Well Documented
Providing APIs is one thing. Knowing how to use them is another thing altogether. The better your APIs are documented, the easier it is for developers to work with them, which bodes well for the adoption and growth of your product. Stripe and GitHub’s API knowledge base are two examples you can take inspiration from to build your organization’s API documentation.
Your documentation should be written in plain, simple English (or any language for that matter) to avoid confusing users. The design of the document should be clean and minimal. Code snippets can be included for clarity. You can also insert images and videos, but don’t go overboard by cluttering the documentation.
In general, your documentation should contain the following sections:
- Resource requests and responses
There are tons of valuable resources online on documenting APIs if you have no prior experience in the field, like this one by Tom Johnson of I’d Rather Be Writing. You can even use tools like Swagger to further streamline the documentation process.
Accelerate CSP Growth with interworks.cloud’s Automation Platform
Integrations are important. However, they require a substantial investment of time and effort, both of which are better spent on more important business tasks.
Our integration framework makes connecting external software with CSPs easy. With native support for popular vendors including Intuit and Salesforce, you can integrate your favorite tools in just a few clicks even if you don’t have development experience. We also provide open APIs for developers to deploy custom integrations with any ERP, CRM, or business tool.
With interworks.cloud’s new integration framework, you spend less time developing and more time growing your brand.
interworks.cloud is an award-winning automation platform for Microsoft service providers and cloud distributors. Request a free demo today to find out how we can elevate your business to the next level.