As the SaaS technology market continues to evolve, consumers are expecting their applications to be able to talk to each other in increasingly complex ways. Downloading and uploading spreadsheets to transfer data between applications is no longer an acceptable onboarding experience. With competition for SaaS tools at an all-time high, prospects continually choose products that communicate and integrate with their existing tooling the best.
For these reasons, it’s no surprise that a new movement in the integrations space is taking hold: the move toward native integrations. But what are native integrations and how are they different from existing integration solutions? In this article, we’ll dive into this question to help you understand what native integrations are and why they’re so powerful.
Before we dive into the nuances of native integrations, let’s take a step back and try to build a more fundamental understanding of what an integration is. If you have a technical background and are already familiar with APIs and integrations, you can feel free to skip this section.
We call two SaaS systems integrated when they have some way to automatically pass information between them over the internet. Put another way, we’d call application A integrated with application B if there was a way for me to move data from one system to another without needing to download and upload a spreadsheet or enter information manually.
Most integrations happen through something called an Application Programming Interface or API. An API is really just a way for two computers to talk to each other and ask questions in a programmatic way (e.g., by using code!). If one of those computers is the computer that application A is running on and the other is the computer that application B is running on, then those two applications are integrated!
Here’s an example: let’s say that your company supports a Salesforce integration that allows your user to see their Salesforce Contacts in your product.
Here’s what’s roughly happening under the hood when your user tries to view their Contacts in your product. The arrows in the diagram below represent API calls and responses.
Nowadays, integrations can happen through a variety of methods, not just the way shown above. Salesforce, for instance, actually lets your developers write a little bit of code that will run on Salesforce’s computers and lets you show a part of your application inside of Salesforce.
However, API integrations are still by far the most popular and are what any of the integration platforms you’ve heard of support. When you hear the term integration throughout this article, you can assume we mean “two systems using a secure API to pass data back and forth”.
A native integration is an integration that’s built directly into your product without going through a 3rd party platform. Put another way, a native integration is just an API integration that your developers implement directly in-code in your product.
There’s a few very key reasons to build native integrations:
But native integrations aren’t all roses and sunshine. Native integrations are hard to build, for a variety of reasons:
If you’re curious, we explore this in much more depth in our article on why building native integrations is difficult.
While building native integrations can be difficult, the benefits often outweigh the costs. More and more companies are choosing to build native integrations for a variety of reasons including:
Read our last article for more information on why native integrations matter.
As an aside, Vessel is a platform that helps you build native integrations. We remove the typical headaches associated with building and maintaining native integrations by providing all the scaffolding and infrastructure (like pre-approved OAuth apps) you need to build native integrations. We’re a developer-first platform and we don’t limit what you can do with the downstream integration meaning you can build significantly deeper integrations than if you use other solutions.
If you’re interested in learning more, or just want to chat about anything integration related - don’t hesitate to reach out at email@example.com