Magic Software Enterprises Ltd. has launched a business integration suite which enables real-time data sharing between on-demand CRM provider Salesforce.com and other business applications.
The iBOLT for Salesforce.com application uses a code-free, wizard-based interface to let companies manage their inter-application data with the popular software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering. For many enterprises, this might include integrating their accounting, ERP, supply chain and human resources data systems with Salesforce.
“For example, when a salesperson is calling a customer, it is important to know whether or not that customer is on a credit hold,” Glenn Johnson, senior vice-president at Israel-based Magic Software, said. “Credit information is usually contained in the accounting application at a company, so in order for that salesperson to be aware of the credit hold status, they need some kind of integration and real-time data interchange with Salesforce.”
Some customers, according to Johnson, might be utilizing SAP Business One for their accounting functions and Salesforce for their CRM capabilities. In these instances, he said, being able to seamlessly integrate data from one application to another is crucial for effective data management.
“One of the biggest challenges with software-as-a-service in the enterprise setting is surrounding data integration,” Bob Parker, who leads IDC’s Manufacturing Insights research division, said. “Magic Software is attacking an important problem here. It’s geared toward the very prominent challenge of SaaS and there is a utility for it.”
Parker said that one of the challenges companies might encounter while integrating this type of solution is maintaining the data translation table. One-time data synchronizations aside, he said, if a company is using this as an ongoing integration tool they are going to have to dedicate people to it to ensure a smooth process.
“The underpinning data models change and so do the things you want to connect Salesforce with,” Parker explained. “The one caution I would throw out there is that this is only a tool. It needs to be maintained and attended too. This is typical of anything that is data translation based.”
Tim Hickernell, associate senior research analyst at London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group agreed, saying that companies need to have a data management strategy in place in order to make things work. Often times, he said, companies don’t have any strategy in how they’re going to integrate their data into other enterprise systems and it ends up causing them more harm than good.
“I don’t see potential problems if the company knows what it’s doing,” he said. “Often times, when you look at data integration and products like iBOLT, companies may not be ready from a process and strategy perspective to really address robust data integration and master data management. For example, they may need to do a whole lot of data cleansing ahead of time or they may need to make some data taxonomy decisions for the enterprise by coming up with standard nomenclature for structured data.”
According to Magic Software, iBOLT has the ability to monitor and deal with some potential integration issues that users might face.
“We provide a monitor that can give alerts related to failed processes in integrating data, and of course, whenever you’re dealing with online availability of applications, you are always concerned about whether or not you lose communications with the server,” Johnson said.
For analysts like Parker, companies who are dealing with the challenges of integrating their data with on-demand services like Salesforce might find it worthwhile to give iBOLT a look.
“I would recommend this to anyone who uses Salesforce and needs to connect to an ERP system, particularly for order management” he said. “Any company that needs to go from quote to order would find this useful.”
No specific pricing details have been released to this point, but Johnson said it would be in line with similar SaaS offerings. The iBOLT business integration suite for Salesforce.com was officially unveiled at this week’s Dreamforce Europe 2008 conference in London.