For organizations to succeed today, they have to make data-driven decisions and get the most value out of the information. “To monetize data, companies must first transform it so that it can be reused and recombined to enable new value creation.” Most organizations have a ton of information that is spread across multiple departments. Making sense of the information is no easy task. Inaccurate analytics or delayed insights can put the business in a vulnerable position. This white paper discusses the role of the citizen integrator and how this role can be a valuable asset to your organization.

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Table of Contents

Data as a Strategic Asset

The rise in using cloud/SaaS solutions for marketing, sales, customer success, finance, HR and product development makes it necessary to look at data across these departmental silos to unearth information. 

For example, Salesforce has most of the information that sales teams need but the customer success team may be using Zendesk and the accounting team may be using Zuora. A sales team that is engaged in upselling accounts would need information from their customer success platform to know how the accounts are doing on the adoption of their solution before they can engage them in an upsell conversation. Unless data from all these systems are unified, the organization will never have that 360-degree view that they need to make the most informed decisions.

 

Unifying Data from Operational Systems

The question really is how can organizations unite the information in these departmental silos. The answer lies in technology. But what technology? There are many integration tools in the market that claim to help organizations integrate all the data they have in various systems.

Organizations have realized that technology is a critical part of their strategy. And when it comes to technology, it is the IT teams that are rightly given the responsibility to understand the organization's needs, evaluate solutions, implement and roll out as they deem fit. 

What is a Citizen Integrator?

According to MIT Sloan Sloan Management Review, many companies’ data has low liquidity — it may be trapped in local business processes, locked in closed platforms, or replicated in multiple locations, for example — or it may be inaccessible simply because it’s incomplete, inaccurate, or poorly classified or defined." The citizen integrator is key to unlocking this information.

Many organizations are increasingly finding that for technology to enable a business, it needs to empower individuals across functions, not just in IT teams. It is these domain experts or ‘citizens’ who are integrating data to help their departments make better decisions. 

Gartner calls them citizen integrators or ad-hoc integrators. They are not engineers but are savvy enough to use integration tools. Ad hoc integrators can include line-of-business developers, such as application developers, who may need to integrate information for a portion of their development, but data integration may not be an ongoing daily task. Citizen integrators include data scientists, data analysts, and other data experts within the business who may need to integrate data for their main job: analytics.

Benefits of the Citizen Integrator

These business integrators do more than simply create ad-hoc reports and applications. They are a valuable business asset that can help drive innovation and help companies remain competitive.

 Rapidly Build and Test Prototypes

The traditional route to a prototype is often plagued by resource-intensive tasks that slow time to delivery. This route also relies on IT involvement to complete the work. Providing business users access to no-code tools enables them to build prototypes quickly without IT involvement. They can then use these prototypes to test ideas, get feedback and come up with the best solution.

Quicker Access to Key Insights

In a time where information is a critical business asset, companies must have a way to access and leverage that information for decision-making purposes. Citizen integrators have deep knowledge of the business. They know what information is needed and how that information needs to be presented. Empowering them to collect this information independently helps deliver business insights more rapidly which ultimately improves business agility.

Increased Productivity

In many companies, IT is constantly overloaded with existing projects. So much so, that they barely have time to address new initiatives. Empowering the line of business with no-code reduces the burden on IT staff. Thus, companies can accomplish more projects in less time when 

Xplenty's suite of integration tools empowers citizen integrators to bring valuable insights to the company.



Tools Citizen Integrators Need to Be Successful

There are so many integration tools available today that picking one for your needs can be confusing and time-consuming. Many integration tools have been traditionally developed to fit the needs of IT teams, making them complex and therefore unsuitable for citizen integrations. 

Few tools have been developed with the citizen integrator in mind. If you heard about “low-code” or “no-code” recently, that’s what the citizen integrator needs. Many of the tools that were developed for IT teams are trying to simplify their UI for citizen integrations but that's more like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

What is a No-Code Tool?

A no-code or low-code tool is a platform that allows non-technical users to build applications without code. The platform features a drag-and-drop interface with little to no coding required. One of the most important requirements for this type of tool is the ability to move data from multiple sources to multiple destinations. 

For example, a citizen integrator may want to take information from Salesforce in Tableau and their Amazon Redshift data warehouse. They will also need to apply transformations to the data from Salesforce before loading it into their destination system. This requires a tool with sophistication a user interface that makes it possible for citizen integrators to put together an integration that gives them the information they need. 

Xplenty's is a no-code tool that simplifies development tasks for non-technical users.

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Data Security and the Citizen Integrator

Data security is a key concern for many organizations. When other teams start moving data around, there is always a worry for the IT department that they are using a tool that may not be secure enough. 

Since data security could be compromised it is important to ask prospective integration tool vendors the right questions. A few key questions to ask are: 

Does the tool provide secure login? 

Is SSH tunnel or reverse SSH supported? 

Does it provide encryption while at rest or in transit? 

Is non-persistent data supported? 

With Xplenty, companies can be sure their data remains safe during migrations.

Success Story: Moving Data from MySQL to Salesforce

Salesforce is central to every business that uses it. Marketing and sales campaigns are driven by customer information in Salesforce. Key marketing and sales decisions are based on information in Salesforce. One such example is a Martech SaaS company that wanted to move their customers' account usage data from their MySQL database to Salesforce in order for their Sales and Customer Success teams to see high and low usage accounts. While high usage accounts would be a great upsell opportunity, low usage accounts would be churn risks. The marketing ops person used a low-code ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) tool to migrate data from MySQL to Salesforce.

Success Story: Using SFTP to Transfer Weather Data to Salesforce

Since security is a big concern for organizations, here is an example of how a large US retailer performed integration with Salesforce while also addressing security. They were looking to ingest weather information from partners so that their retail stores could optimize on-hand inventory based on real-time weather data. Their security team perceived it as a risk since it involved opening up firewalls. Working with a vendor with expertise in data security, the retailer used SFTP to bring in the weather data and connect it to Salesforce.

Success Story: Moving Data from Zuora to Salesforce

Accounting teams need to track down customers who are behind on their payments. This mid-market hotel software company needed to move data in Zuora, their accounting platform, to Salesforce in order for the account managers and AR team to have a centralized view of their billing status. Automated email campaigns are then triggered based on a customer's given billing status (e.g. email to pay ASAP if invoice > 30 days overdue). A sales ops person completed the integration with little to no prior experience.

Conclusion

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These examples highlight how the right integration tools can make a massive difference to the business. Among the tools available for integration, there is a continuum from data loaders that are the tools for very simple one-way integration to complex iPaas solutions that have many powerful features which are not needed for most business users. The needs of citizen integrators fall in that “Goldilocks zone” where tools have just the right capabilities necessary for them to do their jobs. Reach out to us today to schedule a demo to see how our integration platform can enable your citizen integrators.