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Data and Salesforce Enterprise Integration: How to Make It Work

Salesforce has been a CRM juggernaut for years, and it’s continuing to grow, creeping from 19.5% of the 2018 CRM market share to 23.8% in 2022. For most businesses, this means that Salesforce is the default option for a versatile, high-powered CRM. Salesforce regularly updates the platform with more built-in capabilities and tools to maintain its strong position, making it the go-to resource for salespeople, marketers, and business stakeholders.

Even more, Salesforce allows clients to integrate its CRM with other platforms. They can also pull data from those platforms back to CRM, giving them a complete view of their customers. Integration makes Salesforce even more flexible: your teams don’t have to operate exclusively within the platform to reap the benefits. However, while Salesforce facilitates communication between the CRM and some popular business tools, the Salesforce enterprise integration capabilities don’t extend to integrating all of the software that might be in your tech stack. 

As companies transform to prioritize revenue operations from a holistic perspective instead of having siloed departments, these limitations can prevent cohesive operations. Specialized integration partners, however, let you control data integration more flexibly. This post examines the following:

  • The power of data integration for businesses in 2023
  • Why native Salesforce integrations aren’t enough
  • Why data integration tools for Salesforce are a great idea to can solve those gaps

What Is Data Integration?

Software-powered data integration combines disparate data sources into a usable dataset that verified users and programs could access and process. Rather than storing one dataset in one platform (such as Salesforce) and another elsewhere (such as the Marketo platform), the data is pooled and stored in a central repository called a data warehouse. There, the data sits, constantly replenished by influxes of new business information, changing account details, and updates in near real-time. 

The value of automated data integration isn’t just in that it pulls in all the details that employees put into different cloud-based tools and platforms—it also pushes out the data in a manner that each of those connected tools can understand. Automated data integration involves multiple steps, including ETL mapping, cleansing, and transformation. With automated software that handles integration entirely behind the scenes, these steps are also completed without significant lag or mishandling of the data. Your data integration processes can handle large influxes of multiple data types without error through these processes.

There are two types of data integration:

  • Enterprise Data Integration (EDI) refers to technological instructions that help organizations utilize data. Usually, it involves acquiring data from different enterprise systems and analyzing it to create business intelligence reports and perform other management activities.
  • Customer Data Integration (CDI) aims to sift through customer data to make it accessible and usable by different departments. It also makes the data available to all authorized organization members dealing with customers.

How Does Data Integration Work?

Before getting to the specifics of data integration for Salesforce, let’s go over data integration in general. A typical data integration process involves a client sending a request to the primary server and pulling the required data from external and internal sources. Once it extracts the data from its points of origin, it consolidates it into a cohesive set and returns it to the requesting client for use.

Sometimes, data integration moves actual data to a target system (such as a central server). Other times, the system moves dataset copies from the source into a target (for example, when an organization consolidates its transactional data in a server for analysis).

From a more technical perspective, developers create software programs to automate and manage integrating data sets. Some forms of data integration are straightforward, such as copying data between two systems.

Related: Using Multiple CRMs for Different Business Units and Divisions 

However, usually, organizations need to sync their databases and data sources. For these cases, a common approach would be creating a central system that merges local data sources into a single global one. The organization then uses mapping to match data elements and bridge their differences.

A target system (such as a data warehouse) must create a unified data view from different systems without loading it into a new repository.

What Businesses Need From Data Integration Capabilities

Data integration is one of the main components of data management processes. Data integration is a prerequisite to other functions like analysis, reporting, and forecasting. Ultimately, data integration enables analytics tools to produce actionable business intelligence. Hence companies use it to share and analyze big data for many reasons, such as:

  • Informed decision-making for revenue operations
  • Forecasting marketing and sales performance
  • Assessing cross-departmental activity to determine future hiring needs
  • Enhancing customer experiences through the customer lifecycle by providing consistent messaging and support

Businesses don’t just need data integration that can perform these functions. They also need tools to protect the information and ensure data accuracy throughout the transformations and reformatting. That means there are often limitations that data integration systems bump into. Some ecosystems fail when they encounter a specific data type, for example, or cannot integrate particular sources.

Data integration developers make software tools to facilitate an automated integration process. The tools help connect and route data from its source to target systems, and every type of integration tool comes with its advantages. 

Some of these software tools are embedded within the platform itself. Salesforce enterprise integration capabilities are built so on-staff technical experts can easily create a personalized web of integrations from the premade integration options Salesforce provides. Other popular business tools, such as HubSpot, also facilitate native integration.

However, some data integration solutions focus on creating integration capabilities among a wider web of business tools. For example, suppose Salesforce offers native integration with Tools A, B, and C. But if an integration partner offers a tool that integrates with Salesforce, Tools A, B, and C, and Tools D, E, F, G, and H, the possibilities for integration extend much further, especially in a world of increasingly niche specialty business tools.

Why Is Data Integration Essential?

Today, businesses collect data from various sources daily, storing it in large datasets that grow over time. Given how valuable data is for everyday business processes and operations, it is critical to analyze and use it to make operational and management decisions. Creating the right data integration strategy is no longer optional.

Data gives a complete view of customers and provides insights that can help sales and marketing departments better target those customers to close more deals.

As organizations increasingly rely on data in their daily activities, they must find an efficient way to do it. However, the problem many companies face today lies in analyzing and utilizing their extensive data.

Data integration solves this issue by enabling real-time view and analysis of data, leading to the following benefits:

  • Reduces data complexity
  • Increases data value crunched through unified systems
  • Centralizes data, making it easy to use, accessible, and more valuable
  • Allows organizational collaboration among various business systems
  • Allows management to make informed business decisions
  • Improves communication between multiple departments
  • Enables better customer experience
  • Secures data in real-time and keeps it timely and up-to-date

Let’s look at the data integration tools for Salesforce and how they help with customer relationship management (CRM).

Data Integration Tools: Salesforce

Most businesses today use Salesforce as their preferred CRM to improve customer relationships. They like cloud-based software because it improves their connection with customers.

Salesforce also offers a single, shared view of customers. Thus, different departments, such as marketing, sales, customer support, and e-commerce, have access to the same data for a 360-degree view of the customer.

Additionally, businesses are now connecting Salesforce with other data integration tools. The integration leads to higher productivity, increased sales operations, and innovation.

Salesforce Enterprise Integration

Data integration allows on-demand and fast information exchange between different systems. It also ensures consistency in data application, helping business systems remain in sync and improving efficiency. Organizations need data information management expertise for integration, such as data flow design.

The data integration tools Salesforce uses enable fast data analysis. It also allows organizations to transfer data quickly between the CRM and the central storage.

Additionally, Salesforce integration tools in the data warehouse allow organizations to streamline their daily business processes, increasing efficiency.

The Salesforce data integration system implements APIs like REST (Representational State Transfer) and SOAP (Simplified Objects Access Protocol). As a result, they deliver information between systems effectively, update Salesforce objects regularly, maintain passwords, and perform searches.

The benefits of data integration tools for Salesforce are seen when organizations use their CRM-specific data in management and decision-making. Some of these benefits include:

  • Automating data processes: Enterprises working with large data volumes should automate their processes to improve efficiency. For example, integration solutions allow organizations to make custom data processes to resolve internal conflicts.
  • Fostering more sales prospects: Integrating sales data with marketing, financial, inventory, or service records means salespeople have enough information to convert leads. For example, buying preferences allow salespeople to tailor their sales pitches and convert leads by offering customized solutions.
  • Improving client communication: Companies can remain up-to-date on their leads, demographics, engagement levels, and interests. An integrated CRM allows them to send relevant emails and make informed sales calls. It also helps reduce churn by identifying and notifying Customer Success of at-risk customers so they can act accordingly. 
  • Delivering a connected digital experience: Integrating Salesforce with other cloud applications through REST API allows organizations to improve customer experiences.

Limitations of Salesforce Data Integrations

While the native Salesforce enterprise integration offers some value to organizations, it’s not a perfect solution. Some of the critical limitations you may experience with Salesforce-based integrations are:

  • Limited Selection of Available Integrations: Approximately 30% of organizations have between 11 and 20 tools in the MarTech stack alone, not including other RevOps tools. When you rely solely on native integration capabilities, there’s a genuine risk that the apps in your existing tech stack won’t be supported. 
  • Limited User Control: Even for existing integrations, they may have limited functionality—not every field in one platform will cross-map to a relevant field in another, especially if it’s a less popular tool. And, custom objects and record types are typically not supported. Even an organization as big as Salesforce must prioritize in-demand functionalities.
  • Potentially Expensive IT Support Costs: Luckily, there are some options here. Well-trained Salesforce engineers and technical experts can customize native integrations to pry them open and grant your organization more capabilities. However, this process will be expensive and can take a lot of time. Additionally, custom workarounds often have the same drawbacks as legacy systems. Over time, the solution may not fit your organization anymore, and the employee who made the custom change may no longer be in your organization.
  • Unwanted Modifications to Your Tech Stack: Trying to make do with the limitations of standard native Salesforce enterprise organizations will often mean leaving part of your tech stack behind. You’ll have to switch to supported tools, especially if hiring an IT engineer isn’t within the budget.
  • Future Limitations: Even worse, those same limitations will apply to your future tech stack as much as your current one. While more integrations are added to the Salesforce catalog, they may not be for your preferred tools or even the best-of-breed tools in that space. To stick with native capabilities, you’ll need to continue shopping around in the closed ecosystem and find the best available fit.
  • The Limits Factor Into Your Business Decisions: This, in turn, significantly affects your business decisions. If you can’t integrate with an email marketing tool that offers unlimited tracks of personalized email campaigns or the available billing and merchant integrations don’t allow cryptocurrency payments, those avenues of operation are shut for your business. This goes far beyond limited tech stack and data options to impact vital business decisions that should be in the hands of your executives.
  • Over-Reliance on a Single System: Salesforce is famously great about uptime. But no system is perfect, and Salesforce’s cloud-based products can still suffer downtime. When your entire hub of business operations is overly reliant on one source, that’s a significant business risk. It’s just one of the reasons solutions like multi-cloud systems have become popular.

What to Do When Native Salesforce Integrations Aren’t Enough

Limited native integrations with manual or expensive workarounds aren’t the only option. Partnering with the right data management and integration solutions allows you to connect throughout your tech stack to provide a far more versatile integration ecosystem. 

Related: Managing Multiple CRMs? Advice for Marketing Ops Teams to Drive Growth

Siloed RevOps apps can suffer from inaccurate or incomplete data, particularly if you rely on manual workarounds. However, replacing some of your platforms with ones that Salesforce integrates with may cause more harm than good. If you’re facing either of those situations, consider the following:

  • If it’s time to move from native integration to an integration partner who works with you to create custom, elastic integration solutions
  • The benefits of making the shift

How to Recognize When Native Integration Constraints Are Limiting Your Organization

If you or your team is regularly frustrated by problems in your tech stack and data management, diagnose the problem. Assess whether you’re running into these issues:

  • You see different data across different platform views, meaning people throughout your team operate from other facts.
  • Data transfers repeatedly go awry, leaving blank, wrong, or error-coded fields.
  • Your IT department frequently declines platform options because of incompatibility.
  • Your strategic teams have limited data insights, or the reports require a lot of manual finessing to get a complete picture.
  • The costs of customizing native integration controls are continuing to grow.
  • Your team is never confident that they’re seeing up-to-date or accurate information.

Manual workarounds to these problems aren’t the answer. Instead, it’s time to consider an  integration partner that resolves the issues entirely.

Benefits of Stepping Outside of Native Salesforce Options

It can feel like adding a new layer of integration to your tech stack is simply adding another layer of complexity. But instead of viewing an integration tool as another app in a linear path, think of it as connective tissue or a web for your tech stack. This connective tissue will help you get the most bang for your buck out of the apps you’ve already invested in. 

Instead of marketing data flowing into Salesforce and then into a sales enablement tool, back to Salesforce and then to a contract management platform, it continually sits as objects and elements within the integration platform. The data is constantly verified, updated, and pushed to team-specific tools. Instead of data being a series of details in a business process, the right tool will decouple the data from niche processes and treat it as business objects that any team can access and use.

The benefits of shifting to this method of architecture and orchestration include the following:

  • Making data more versatile: You don’t just have lead insights or customer support ticket data—your teams have information about customer interactions that don’t sit siloed in your help desk software or marketing platforms.
  • You’re in charge: You can align the fields between different integrated systems because you control the integration layer. This gives you more control over ensuring those fields map correctly, assessing your chosen orchestration, modifying your orchestration now and over time, and deploying changes on your terms. Additionally, you control when and where data is overwritten and when it is preserved in each application, allowing you to maintain sources of truth. This, in turn, ensures more robust data standardization.
  • More platform choices: This is one of the most apparent but integral benefits. The right integration platforms inherently work with more tools and platforms. You can find the one that fits your current tech stack, will include your anticipated additions to your tech stack, and has options for facilitating custom integrations without eating through your budget.

Step Outside the Limits of Native Integration: Choose an Integration Partner for Custom, Elastic Integration Solutions

When Salesforce enterprise integration isn’t enough for your organization, Vertify is here to help. Our data integration solution is automated, flexible, and full of options so you can optimize your data across your tech stack. Vertify allows you to integrate on your terms and gives you control over data standardization and flow. It also connects your data and teams seamlessly so you can make better revenue decisions. Request a demo today to see the possibilities.