When testing enterprise software, PCMag relies heavily on a product's feature set and performance to determine whether or not we should recommend it for your business. This includes factors such as scalability, user interface (UI), and customer support options. However, we also take into account how well a product integrates with third-party software, and whether or not it has an open application programming interface (API).
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After all, your company probably uses a variety of tools from a handful of different vendors. If your software suite doesn't work in concert, then you're likely losing out on important business opportunities. That's precisely what executives said in response to a recent survey by low-code software provider TrackVia.
According to the survey's report, 31 percent of executives said integration or compatibility with other software and apps is their top challenge with existing software. That's the most frequently referenced challenge listed in the report, but 28 percent of respondents said customizing and scaling software is their next top challenge. More importantly, 66 percent of respondents claimed software limitations have negatively affected the company's financial growth. This means companies with customer relationship management (CRM) software that isn't interfacing with their helpdesk tool are missing opportunities to not only better serve clients but to actually generate more revenue.
Three quarters of respondents have also replaced legacy systems because the vendor was incapable of making necessary updates or customizations required for the business. Of those companies that have tried to combine legacy systems with new software, 36 percent say the combination has forced them to change their daily operations. In fact, 82 percent of respondents say they have already changed business operations to match the way their software works.
(Image via: TrackVia)
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The Low-Code Option
TrackVia's survey responses indicate that businesses are looking to low-code software development solutions to help solve these problems. According to Forrester Research, the low-code industry will generate 68 percent revenue growth by 2019, which amounts to an overall market size of $10.3 billion. Also, the report states that 29 percent of businesses are using low-code solutions today, while 43 percent said they are interested in working with a low-code provider.
Low-code app development essentially automates the coding process in order to streamline software customizations and even software creation. For an in-depth explanation of what low-code means, and whether or not your business should invest in learning the discipline, read this excellent low-code primer by PCMag editor Rob Marvin. In it, he describes the origins of low-code app development, speaks to Forrester about the evolution of the low-code business, and turns to our in-house Ziff Davis Tech software developers to test four platforms from Appian, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Zoho to see if each is capable of delivering on its low-code promise.
(Image via: TrackVia)
What Else Is There?
Low-code development isn't the only way for companies to take advantage of integrated software. As I mentioned earlier, an open API lets a company's developers access the language and message format that allows the software to speak to the operating system (OS). By opening the API, companies let third-party developers access this language to connect disparate tools. For example, have you ever conducted a Google search within a non-Google app? That's the result of one of Google's open search APIs. Finding partners with open APIs, and building your own software with an open API, makes these kinds of integrations a lot easier than having to build an integration from scratch.
Alternatively, tools such as Zapier help connect a large subset of apps across one network. With Zapier, you can link more than 750 apps without using any code whatsoever. You can also set triggers to pass information between apps and build custom processes that run across multiple tools, without using any code.
Another way to avoid the headache of software integration is to work directly with companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Zoho across all of your software needs. These industry titans offer a wide variety of enterprise software, covering everything from productivity to email marketing tools. Of course, by doing this, you're limiting yourself to one vendor's take on enterprise software. Plus, they typically offer more expensive tools than the ones you'll find from startups and newer vendors.
Data from the TrackVia report was gathered via a January survey of 503 executives (253 IT executives and 250 business executives).