B2B Software Integrations – 3 Ways to Make Them Easy, Fast, and Scalable
The promise of technology is to knock down barriers to doing our best work. Software lets us work better, faster, with greater accuracy, and even accomplish things that might be possible without it. We like it, right? And we love it even more when software shares easily with each other like my Ergatta water rower software connecting with my Apple Watch and Health app to keep track of my gains and close my rings.
Historically, business-to-business (B2B) software integrations have often been hard, slow, and expensive custom projects. Integrating applications like ECAD, MCAD, ERP, PLM, and/or CRM were arduous tasks no one wanted to take on. Why? In the past, we could blame deficiencies in technologies. This isn’t a limiter today. Certainly, some enterprise applications are complex as can be—and integrations inherit some of that complexity. The persistent reason, though, that B2B software integrations are “big” lifts is that the software companies make them that way.
Watching my rower connect effortlessly to my watch, phone, and even my wireless headset to stream data is a blissful user experience. It is blissful because the companies who own these platforms took purposeful steps to make it so—from platform technologies to use case development, open APIs, and delivery of a tested app integration.
How do we make B2B software integrations better experiences? At Arena, we take the same approach to integrations that we use with our “updates not upgrades” release process—focusing on what our customers need—to deliver functionality and value fast. Here are three ways we make integrations easy, fast, and scalable. You can use this as a guide when you consider any B2B software (e.g., ERP, MCAD, EDA, CRM).
Three Things Enterprise Platforms Need for Integrations
- Standard and flexible connection methods
- Enforced business rules
- Bonus: low-code/no-code technologies
Standard and Flexible Connection Methods
The first question we need to answer in integrations is how we connect the systems. We want options that are common, that utilize known methods, so that people can leverage knowledge and previous work to build new integrations. We also need flexible methods—meaning different ways to build data connections—so we don’t use a larger lift method when a simple option will fit the need.
Arena provides the following connection methods today:
- REST API – powerful and well-documented, the REST API provides JSON and multipart/multiform data our partners and customers use to build simple to complex digital data flows
- Import/Export – simple yet flexible, Arena Import and Export provide click-through user interfaces that give users easy ways to flow data into and out of Arena for one-time or occasional needs
- ERP Exchange/EDA Exchange (legacy) – these outbound integration methods are specifically for ERP and EDA systems, built on our pre-REST API methods, and utilized by partners to output product BOM for well-defined use cases
Enforced Business Rules
Like most B2B enterprise software platforms, Arena allows customers to configure the system to fit the unique process, data, and security requirements of each company. Accuracy of data is important for automated data flows. You do not want to pull the wrong revision of a product bill of materials (BOM) nor do you want to create data in Arena that breaks the requirements you have configured in the platform. Integrations must follow business rules or integrity of data is lost. All of Arena’s incoming and outgoing connection methods enforce business rules, and ensure you get the right data in and out of Arena.
As a multi-tenant cloud-native solution, Arena prioritizes continuity for our customers. Arena provides updates, not upgrades. With every update release, customers immediately benefit as the platform is updated. Arena’s architecture ensures the continuity of all business rules and configurations. For integrations, our approach offers the same level of continuity with integrations performing after an update, with no recoding or installation of new packages required.
At Arena, our commitment to scalable, easy, configurable solutions led us to create the innovative Event Engine. The Event Engine gives anyone developing integrations a faster path with an easy-to-use graphical interface. With the Event Engine, developers can quickly create triggers, or definitions of Arena data needed, and define the criteria for when the data is pulled and placed in a data queue. With a choice of data formats and full enforcement of business rules, the Event Engine delivers Arena data for integrations with clicks, not code.
Arena Marketplace—Find Your Next Connection
To explore the ways you can extend the value of Arena by easily connecting to your other systems, visit the Arena Marketplace. You’ll find a range of packaged integrations and connection apps as well as Arena partners that can help you with unique API development projects. With better integration experiences, you can realize the promise of technology faster and make your teams work better.
Integration Questions to Ask Any B2B Software Vendor
- Do you have open REST APIs? How well are they documented?
- What are the gaps between APIs and in the application?
- What other methods can we use to get data out of or into the system for one-time or infrequent use cases?
- Do the integration methods enforce business rules we have defined in the application?
- What happens to integrations and connections when you release a new version or update? Do we have to retest integrations or install and configure new packages?