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In today’s fast-paced and technologically-driven world, one of the major challenges businesses face relates to the tools, systems and software they need in order to function on a daily basis. For businesses that rely heavily on software and other IT-based platforms to perform day-to-day tasks, many find that as their organisation grows, so does the demand on their systems and their specialist requirements. While some businesses choose to address this challenge with pre-existing software and computer programs that are commercially available, others turn to custom-made systems that are purpose-built to deal with that organisation’s specific software  needs. This is where integrated services come in. 

However, what exactly are integrated software services on a basic level, what are the different types of integrations, and how does this area of corporate system management help businesses save money and improve productivity and efficiency? Keep reading to find answers to all of these questions and more.

What does integrated services mean?

To put it simply, the term ‘integrated services’ refers to the professional solutions that software developers and IT infrastructure companies provide to their clients in order to bring various different software and IT tools together in one easy-to-use package. These collections of software are designed to make navigation between different applications more efficient and with a more user-friendly, uniform approach. By incorporating a number of key, regularly-used applications and software programs into one product, data sharing is also made more simple, allowing different departments of the same business – who may traditionally use separate platforms and tools to complete their individual tasks – to work together and interact more efficiently without any potential barriers in the shape of incompatible software.

The most well known example of a commercially available integrated software package, used by over a million businesses worldwide according to Statistica, is Microsoft Office. This integrated suite contains various programs used in office environments, including Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word and more.

Software integration types

Systems commonly used by businesses are typically made up of in-house corporate software solutions, designed to serve a specific business or industry-specific purpose, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, which are commercially available cloud-based applications that are centrally hosted and usually sold on a subscription basis. These include the likes of Microsoft 365, Google Apps, Dropbox and Slack. 

While commercially available SaaS packages are used by a wide range of organisations across an array of industries, in-house systems tend to be less uniform and can vary greatly from business to business. This is where integrated software services can be utilised to introduce compatible, custom-made systems that make a business’ day-to-day operations more efficient. These bespoke software solutions are typically built by professional software and application developers and are also designed to ensure that legacy (or existing) internal systems, tools and platforms, modern third-party software, and other applications are seamlessly integrated to form one, comprehensive software package that can be rolled out and used universally across an entire organisation. 

The most common software and application integration services that businesses utilise include: 

Back-office integration services

Back-office systems are the tools and programs used to run the day-to-day operations of a business itself. This includes tasks such as recording sales and purchase transactions, managing inventory records, storing invoices and receipts, etc. By integrating all back-office systems into one compatible software package, processes can be made more efficient and future legacy issues can be avoided.  

Legacy software integrations

If a business is still using outdated software to carry out core functions, in many cases it cannot be simply removed and replaced with a more modern system as it has become essential to day-to-day operations. Legacy integrations are designed to help older, often obsolete, yet crucial systems communicate with newer software and technology solutions that are more suited to modern business, without causing major disruption to workflow. This allows systems to essentially be upgraded rather than replaced. 

If a business needs a new type of system to deal with an operational task, but either cannot afford it or does not have the time to wait for a bespoke software solution to be built from scratch, an existing third-party system could be the best option. However, this system will still have to be carefully integrated into the business’ existing systems and operation processes. This is where third-party integration services are required.

API integrations

Application programming interfaces, or APIs, are simply tiny pieces of code that allow digital devices, data servers and software applications to communicate with each other. From the online onboarding process you follow when signing up for a new streaming service to entering your postage details when ordering something online, APIs are essential for online businesses of all kinds. API integration, therefore, is the process of making sure the connection between two or more applications works correctly, allowing different types of systems to exchange data between each other seamlessly. 

Intelastel makes software integration simple. Pool all your data into a single view that provides clearer, more cohesive business insights. Our integrations have the power to connect hundreds of online platforms and applications together to produce all the data, services and day-to-day operational support you need in one easy-to-use systems package.  

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