Tips for Selecting Your Integration Platform (Episode 26)
With host Cait Porte, Chief Marketing Officer at Digibee
In this episode of “Integration. Redesigned.,” our host, Digibee’s Chief Marketing Officer Cait Porte, is joined by Head of Strategy, Matt Durham, for a discussion on the crucial task many organizations face in selecting the right integration platform solution. Matt provides valuable insights for making an informed decision. The conversation explores key considerations, including defining your company goals, leveraging research from trusted resources, understanding your integration tool users, and aligning your technology resources with your organization’s broader needs for now and the future.
Hello, and welcome back to Integration Redesigned. I’m your host, Cait Porte, and in this episode, I am joined once again by Matt, Head of Strategy here at Digibee. Welcome back, Matt.
Today, we’re going to talk about how to select an integration tool that fits your business. IT professionals, similar to marketing professionals like me, are always being sold new and innovative technologies with the promise that it’s going to make your team more efficient, get things out more quickly, be lower cost.
Today, Matt, we really want to figure out how are we going to select an integration platform for your business. And it’s a loaded one, right? We’ve got certainly a number of things that we can unpack related to this. But how might you start out answering that question? How do you select an integration platform?
Right. Well, as you and I talked about, Cait, recently, it’s a big question, and as you just said. And, there are companies like Gartner and Forrester that, to a greater or lesser degree, base their entire business on this question, right? But we’ll try to address this in the few minutes that we have.
So, this may seem self-evident, but I’m going to suggest that it doesn’t always happen, which is why I want to mention it, of course. And so the first thing is, I think, the buyer needs to understand her goals or the buying organization needs to understand its goals. So, again, that may seem really self-evident, but I’ve certainly seen enough RFIs and been involved in enough sale cycles and opportunities where I don’t think the goal was really clear, or the goals (plural), were really clear.
So we’ve had some success at Digibee in helping customers who have required integration technology because they made another purchase that was very strategic for them. And, so I’m thinking specifically about a new e-commerce suite that several of our customers have purchased in the retail protocol. And that was a very strategic, very important action for them. And then sort of on the heels of that, they needed to purchase new integration technology to accomplish all the downstream things that they wanted to, and needed to, with that e-commerce suite.
So, I mentioned that because we, as working for vendors, and working as part of a marketing organization, of course, we want buyers to pay attention to our outreach. But ultimately, the outreach needs to be met with a need. So, what are some big examples? Well, there probably is some sort of a digital transformation initiative happening somewhere in the organization. Perhaps there is a decision to retire some legacy systems and to purchase, as I was just describing, in an e-commerce example, a new modern kind of core piece of software for the company. Maybe there’s an acquisition that’s happened and there’s a requirement to integrate systems. Whatever, it’s not just understanding what the high-level strategy is that’s critical. But, then it’s also really important to understand how that strategy is going to be achieved.
So, I think that’s fundamentally the first thing, is a clear understanding of why these conversations are even happening. And I think it’s incumbent on any seller to discover those things. So, no one should buy anything other than maybe a postcard when they’re traveling, just because, just because, right? So that’s the first thing.
I think the second thing I would say is, (did you want to ask me something else or?) OK, so – and I’m going to qualify this a little bit because of Digibee’s example – but, you know, as you know, Cait, I’ve worked with Gartner and Forrester and IDC and those sorts of companies for decades. And, I think that they’re a very good resource for this sort of question. So, what should I do if I’m going to buy some enterprise software? Well, I’m probably going to talk to Gartner and Forrester and the other firms because they know a lot about them. They know a lot about these things. They publish research reports about them. They talk to the vendors. They talk to the customers of the vendors. They talk to the competitors of the vendors. And it’s not to say that that anyone should necessarily say, should ask Gartner, “should I buy X or Y?” And Gartner “says Y.” And then you go buy Y. That’s not the point necessarily. But it’s another important and valuable source of data.
There’s a caution with that, though, I want to say, I want to mention. Again, it’s been my experience that it’s very common for organizations to build shortlists based on the vendors that are leaders in a magic quadrant or sometimes leaders in a Forrester wave. And, I don’t think that’s a great practice. And I would say very confidently that Gartner and Forrester would agree that that’s not a great practice.
So, first of all, you’re missing out on companies like Digibee that aren’t included in the magic quadrants, in the waves, in our case, because we don’t yet have enough revenue to be included. So, they all have requirements for inclusion. And, you know, we’re a high growth company and we’re approaching that bar and we’ll be at it in the future, but we’re not at it yet. So, it’s a good source of data, or they are a good source of data, but they’re not the only source. So, those are a couple of the things I would start out with. There I have some other thoughts, but I don’t know if you had anything you wanted to ask about – as relates to those.
I think it’s really important to highlight that while you, I mean, I equate this to going out to a mentor for advice or guidance. Sometimes the mentor may know about things that you are not necessarily aware of, in having that conversation. You know, just think again, job searching, if we want to equate the same thing. Right? I go out. I talk to a mentor. They bring me a suggestion on a company, an individual, a source of information that I may not have been aware of. So I think, you know, spot on. Right? The first thing we want to do is understand our goals and needs.
And, the second is back that up, get a mentor to help you out. And don’t be afraid to look at some of the ones that may not appear in your traditional sources for information gathering. Because I think you’re going to find, you know, especially given our relationship with Gartner, that they may know about a lot more than what meets the eye. Right? There’s more to the why there.
The next thing that we had talked about was who’s going to use this? And this is really near and dear to our hearts here at Digibee because we think about that as part of our strategy. But, when you’re thinking about, well, who’s using this and what are they doing with it? How does that – how does that resonate with you? And what might you add there?
Yeah, it’s really an important point. And I’m glad you brought it up because classically integration platforms have been used by a highly skilled team, a highly specialized team, a dedicated team, typically. “My job is to write integrations. That’s what I do, to write and maintain integrations.” And our thesis at Digibee is that that’s no longer a sufficient model. So, I would argue in terms of selection to understand whether a technology vendor can serve the requirements of your broader development organization. And maybe another way to say it is, can the platform that you are considering for purchase, can it be used by a wide range of developers in your organization? As opposed to the two or six people who are deeply trained on integration technology and integration technology only?
The reason that’s important is, if you pursue a strategy where integrations are written as part of your sort of standard work, as opposed to by this highly specialized team, you will be able to burn down your backlog. You’ll be able to have a more efficient development organization and a more agile development organization that can adjust to needs. As opposed to – what is classically a scenario – which is relying on a small team where things tend to bottleneck very, very quickly.
And, one of the super cool things about Digibee and one of the things that we were really proud of here is that we can get developers really proficient on our platform in a matter of days. Whereas with traditional integration platforms, training and certification can take weeks, months, or sometimes even longer. We actually don’t even offer certification because we don’t think it should be used. We don’t think it’s required in our case. So, I think that that’s a really important thing to look for.
And one more thing I want to say about it, Cait, before I pause is if you have, if you, Cait, are the buyer and you have that team of dedicated integration developers, that doesn’t mean you should exclude a modern platform like Digibee because, of course, those people, those integration specialists will be able to use our platform. And frankly, they’ll probably be able to use it really, really well because they understand integration as a sort of as a topology, if you will.
We say this a lot here, select a tool that’s going to work for you, not the other way around. And, I think this conversation really highlights that because when you look at the average tenure of the people on your team, you know, people aren’t staying at companies 20, 30 years anymore. They’re staying at companies, single digits, right? Two to four to maybe six years, even saying six years is a long time these days. And, as you think about that growth, you need technologies that are going to help empower the teams that you’re bringing on if you’re expanding and growing and you want them to use the technologies that you have in place. Or as knowledge departs the organization, you have the ability to educate internally without rushing to get a deadline before someone leaves. So that’s a huge one is, who’s going to use this? How are they going to take advantage of it? And, are we going to have the flexibility once that person is potentially no longer here?
Well, Matt, once again, you know, selecting a tool is challenging, to say the least. I’m constantly looking up articles on “X tool versus Y tool” or “why would I select X?” What are the best benefits? What are the “gotchas?” I’m sure that bloggers make tons of money off of writing these types of content.
I think if we were to boil down today, it’s, you know, what are your goals and needs and how are you going to use it? What mentors or research tools can you go to to get that advice? And then ultimately, well, who’s going to be using it and how does that scale with my business going forward?
Thanks for joining me, Matt. I’m sure we’ll see you again. That’s it for this episode of Integration. Redesigned.