Low-code App Development and Cloud Integration Challenges

Quickbase News
May 20, 2015
7 Min Read

In the age of digital transformation, successful organizations stand out with their ability to move at the pace of innovation. This means continuously adding and integrating new applications to take advantage of new capabilities revealed by emerging technology. At the same time, businesses need to transform these applications quickly and deeply into a single connected platform so they can generate awesome customer experiences and run their business processes more efficiently.

Unfortunately, the explosion of cloud applications, each dedicated to a particular business challenge, has led to increasing fragmentation of business data and processes across disconnected applications. Productive and accessible low-code app development platforms like QuickBase have enabled a growing number of technical and non-technical professionals to rapidly solve business problems by building and customizing their own solutions.

While the apps built with low-code platforms are typically all in the same place, making it easy to track and report on data about a specific process, project, or customer, not all business data lives there. Let’s say you manage your business, or automate key processes within your organization using QuickBase. You likely use purpose-built applications to manage accounting and financials, transact ecommerce, or execute email-marketing campaigns. So how do you bring that data together in QuickBase to use in your QuickBase project management, customer management or order tracking apps?

Well, you could throw people at the challenge and manually transcribe data between apps, but this is time consuming and error prone re-keying of data, which no one likes! It might work if data rarely changes and timely updates aren’t that important. Another fairly reasonable option is to export and import your data. For example, export your paid invoices from QuickBooks or Intacct and then import them into QuickBase. QuickBase has a pretty good import facility, but it is still a 2- or 3-step manual process that needs to happen over and over again to keep the invoices up-to-date. Some folks automate the process with scripts, but exporting the data, transforming it in Access or Excel, generating a CSV file and importing it into QuickBase has proven to be a fragile and time-consuming script to maintain. I think it is fair to say neither of these options is optimal.

The most flexible option for automating integrations with QuickBase is to write a custom point-to-point integration with our APIs. The trouble with this approach is it requires specialized development knowledge that not everyone has. Now, the QuickBase APIs are pretty awesome and accessible to many developers because they are well documented, easy-to-understand and at just the right level of functional abstraction. However, integrating cloud apps requires knowledge of two sets of APIs, that of the source and the destination. Not every API is as well defined or accessible as the QuickBase APIs, and chances are you aren’t familiar with the APIs of the system or systems whose data you need. So this means you need to learn a new API and data schema, pull out a development tool and write the integration. Once it’s tested, you then need to find a place to host that new, single purpose integration you just built. And then there is the maintenance of that script, and that need typically pops up a few months down the road after you’ve long forgotten how that code works.

Another option is to adopt one of the many standalone cloud integration platforms, like Zapier, Dell Boomi, or Informatica. But, some of these require specialized skills, and each means adding one more platform to the mix that your team needs to learn, manage and, most importantly, pay for.

You could give up on bringing your data together and live with limited visibility into how different processes and parts of the business fit together. But we think there is a better way. What if your highly productive low code platform had integration features that allowed you to get the data you need without coding? What cloud apps would you connect with QuickBase? What data would you bring into QuickBase? What new decisions would you be able to make? What new business problems could you solve? Let me know by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.

Want to learn more about how we're solving cloud integration challenges? Read Introducing QuickBase Sync for Streamlined Cloud Integration.

Interested in learning more about QuickBase and how it works with other cloud applications? Contact us here.

Recomended Posts