Integrated Platform as a Service (iPaaS) may be new in Asia Pacific, but may prove to be a savior for business continuity amid a pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a huge obstacle for businesses for some time now. In fact, many businesses are embracing survival tactics while adhering to new compliance and regulatory requirements set by governments.

In such an uncertain economic climate, enterprises in Asia Pacific need to explore strategies to ensure business continuity and resilience.

One solution is automation and digitalization. By embracing digitalization, businesses can seamlessly integrate various business applications for greater employee and customer experience. Specifically, Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions could be the savior for businesses.

iPaaS may be a relatively new concept in the region but, with increased adoption of automation across the globe, it looks certain to be here to stay.

For more insights into iPaaS and what it can do for organizations in Asia Pacific, DigiconAsia spoke to Ajit Melarkode, Vice President, Asia Pacific & Japan, Boomi:

What exactly is iPaaS?

Ajit: iPaaS is the integration across multiple data siloes, teams, business units, subsidiaries and regional operations, offered as a service. Think of it like strips of Velcro, based on pre-built connectors for hundreds of applications, as well as an API management vehicle, connecting data from every part of an organization to form a cohesive operation.

In technical terms, iPaaS is a multi-tenant, cloud solution that enables real-time integration of applications, data, processes, and service-oriented architecture (SOA) across multi-cloud and on-premise environments. This connectivity prevents the “lost in translation” issues that can happen between business units when automated APIs are fed with bad data. Low-code iPaaS platforms also benefit businesses that want to accelerate their transition to the cloud, but may lack the technical expertise, by seamlessly connecting legacy applications to the cloud.

How has iPaaS helped organizations automate for business resiliency and continuity?

Ajit: iPaaS has helped organizations – including global pharma company Moderna, Hong Kong-based tech accessory company Native Union, Japan’s largest power company JERA, and Australian pension fund HESTA – accelerate digitization, refocus operations online, and offer new services in response to unprecedented disruption.

JERA, which is among the largest power suppliers in the world, has stakeholders that rely on accurate and actionable data to running its operations and powerplants across 10 countries. Since the company runs one of the world’s largest supply chains, modernizing and unifying its IT environment, including disparate legacy architectures with siloed and complex business-critical systems, was crucial in preventing disruption in its multinational operations and customer services.

After deploying the Boomi iPaaS platform, JERA alleviated strain on its IT team by eliminating a series of highly complex point-to-point integrations, as well as automate and centralize data exchanges between previously disparate legacy systems, despite the scale of its business. Furthermore, JERA can provide personalized energy usage options and additional energy services to better serve consumers and businesses through a new JERA commercial platform underpinned by Boomi.

In similar instances, iPaaS solutions have enabled many organizations to quickly eliminate hundreds of hours in manual onboarding time, minimize errors and risks to data, create employee and customer experiences to foster long-term retention, and seamlessly scale direct e-commerce sales operations.

The integrations achieved with an iPaaS solution also helped employees access information easier, which allowed them to get work done faster. These capabilities were crucial in enabling organizations to ensure business continuity and resiliency amid disruption brought about the pandemic. I’m reminded particularly of a quasi-government healthcare provider that needed to urgently augment staff who have to work from home with contractors to work on sites, and iPaaS was the quickest way they could onboard contractors and provide them with access to multiple systems rapidly.

What are some key trends impacting businesses in APAC, and why would iPaaS be considered a savior for them?

Ajit: Businesses I speak to reiterate that accelerating digitalization and transitioning more applications and systems to the cloud are important priorities. This is in a background of the changing working landscape, concerns with earnings, cautious budgeting and cost reductions, the push from CFOs for rapid results and constraints on talent and specialist skills to achieve fast digitalization and cloud migrations. iPaaS solves all of these asks.

The goals of these efforts are fundamentally centered on supporting employee productivity while they are working remotely and delivering exceptional customer experiences. According to an Equinix study, there is a growing demand to move workloads to the digital edge while scaling core IT infrastructure in APAC, which has led to traditional business – within industries like banking and insurance, securities and trading, manufacturing, and business and professional services – ramping up their digitalization efforts. These sectors are expected to represent more than 25 per cent of interconnection bandwidth in the region by 2023.

Speed and agility have also become valuable capabilities for businesses in the current economic environment. It is critical to ensure that data and applications are part of a modernized and coherent ecosystem in order to drive decision-making in organizations. Low-code iPaaS solutions are ideal for quickly implementing integrations and connecting the data in legacy applications with the cloud. Then, as businesses adopt and incorporate new technologies into the enterprise environment, iPaaS integrations serve as the foundation for streamlined operations and enhanced customer interactions and transactions.

Are organizations in this region ready for iPaaS? What are the challenges in adoption, and how could these be overcome?

Ajit: Based on the interest I have observed, organizations in the region are absolutely ready for iPaaS. The latest assessment of cloud readiness from the Asia Cloud Computing Association noted that each country has made advancements since 2018. The global iPaaS market is expected to grow 40% by 2025 with the APAC market growing the fastest.

Furthermore, the industry association observed that average international connectivity has increased by 53% year-on-year for the region, which is a step forward in developing competitive cloud services through physical infrastructure – and would enable domestic cloud users to use international cloud services.

The biggest constraint for iPaaS is the lack of awareness on the widespread availability of low code iPaaS platforms such as Boomi’s, that also comes with options for data cataloguing and master data management to ensure that the connections made use reliable and trackable data.

Low-code, iPaaS solutions resolve interoperability issues by automating the integration of digital assets and allowing businesses to extract the most value from existing technology investments without requiring deep and broad specialist integration skills. IT teams are then free to focus on progressing digital transformation plans and supporting other strategic objectives, rather than maintaining integrations with manual coding.