In today's data-driven world, organizations strive to build a comprehensive Customer 360 view to gain valuable insights and deliver personalized experiences. Salesforce, as a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, offers powerful tools to manage customer data. However, to achieve a complete view of customers, it's essential to integrate data from various external sources into Salesforce.
The 5 key takeaways from this article are:
- There is a wide range of solutions for loading data into Salesforce
- These solutions can be broken into two major categories - Enterprise Solutions & Modern Solutions
- Enterprise solutions cover myriad data use cases for company-wide rollouts
- Modern solutions focus on the data integration use cases with ease of use a high priority
- By the end of this, you will be able to create a shortlist of solutions to review based on your needs
In this article, we will embark on a journey through the Salesforce data integration landscape. We'll delve into the options available for loading data from external sources to Salesforce, including the likes of Talend, MuleSoft, Integrate.io, Dataloader.io, and more.
Table of Contents
- The Salesforce Data Integration Landscape
- The Enterprise Solutions
- The Modern Solutions
- Enterprise Solution vs Modern Solution
- Breaking Down The Modern Solutions
- Deciding On Your Tool of Choice
When it comes to loading data into Salesforce, several factors come into play when deciding on the best option for you. Let's kick off with a quick overview of the various choices available.
The Salesforce Data Integration Landscape
The grid above lays out the main data integration platforms used for loading data into Salesforce. We've mapped out the grid based on two crucial deciding factors: Time to Implementation (Months to Days) and Complexity (Difficult to Simple).
As you explore the grid, you'll notice that these factors divide the integration players into two major groups - The Enterprise Solutions and The Modern Solutions.
The Enterprise Solutions
In the bottom left quadrant, you'll find many well-known names in the integration space. These platforms are a perfect fit for large Enterprise companies seeking a complete data platform layer, including integration, governance, enterprise service bus, API management, and more.
While these options offer a wide range of capabilities, they do come with a significant Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) due to their lengthy implementation times (months to years) and inherent complexity. Implementing enterprise-wide solutions like these typically requires a dedicated team residing within Core IT, given the technical skill set required to work with such platforms.
Another significant factor that increases the TCO is the initial implementation and ongoing maintenance costs. With tools of this size, companies need to engage external consulting firms for the initial setup phase and often end up needing to keep these consultants long-term too.
The Modern Solutions
In the upper right quadrant, we encounter a set of solutions categorized as more 'modern' solutions. These integration platforms are relatively new, are architected as cloud-native solutions, and have been designed with a focus on user-friendliness and ease of use.
While these solutions may not offer the full suite of product offerings that The Enterprise Solutions provide, they excel in data integration use cases. What's more, they can be up and running within days or weeks, depending on the complexity of the use case. Unlike their enterprise counterparts, these modern solutions can be utilized by a wide range of teams, eliminating the need to rely solely on Core IT.
Enterprise Solution vs Modern Solution
When it comes to choosing the right solution, it ultimately boils down to your specific business requirements.
Opting for an Enterprise solution typically makes sense if:
- You have a diverse range of data requirements and use cases
- You're comfortable with a minimum implementation time of 6+ months
- You have a dedicated Core IT team to handle implementation and ongoing maintenance
- You have a budget of $200k+ available for platform and implementation costs
On the other hand, Modern solutions are better suited when:
- You're seeking a platform to address specific data integration use cases
- You want the platform to be accessible and usable by Line of Business teams and users
- Time is of the essence, and you need a solution with quick implementation
- You lack the budget, time, or resources to invest in a full-fledged Enterprise solution
Breaking Down The Modern Solutions
For the purpose of this discussion, let's focus on the Modern solutions that meet the criteria of ease of use and quick time to implementation.
The Salesforce Modern Solutions Data Integration Landscape
Narrowing down our initial requirements to The Modern Solutions, we can further dissect these options based on business needs. Thus, we've created our Modern Solutions grid, taking into account Platform Flexibility (capabilities and use cases supported) on X-axis and Platform Scalability (data volumes and Enterprise features) on Y-axis.
The great news is that there is a Modern Solution to cater to the majority of data integration needs. Let's now explore the key differences between each of these solutions.
Dataloader.io, a Salesforce-owned data-loading tool developed by MuleSoft, offers a simple web-based interface for manually loading data to Salesforce. Supporting only file formats, including CSV and Excel, Dataloader.io makes it easy to manually load to Salesforce. Although it may not possess the advanced capabilities of full-fledged integration platforms, Dataloader.io provides a user-friendly solution for basic data-loading requirements.
This can be an ideal option if you're looking for an affordable and straightforward solution that allows you to manually upload files to Salesforce, without requiring extensive data preparation or transformation.
Platform Flexibility: Low - excels at file ingestion but not other data sources
Platform Scalability: Low - built for smaller data volumes and involves a manual process
Census belongs to a new breed of tools in the 'Reverse ETL' space. These solutions facilitate the movement of data from a company's data warehouse to a wide variety of operational systems, such as Salesforce, NetSuite, Zendesk, and more. Census supports data transformations and preparation using a code-based SQL interface.
While these Reverse ETL solutions are highly proficient in their intended purpose, they are not an option if you want to load data into Salesforce from non-data warehouse sources.
Platform Flexibility: Low - excels at data warehouse integration but not other data sources
Platform Scalability: High - can handle large data volumes and supports automation
Workato is part of the modern iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solutions that were built to provide simple application-to-application integration. With its intuitive interface and pre-built connectors, users can easily configure integrations between Salesforce and external systems without the need for extensive coding. It also provides advanced workflow automation capabilities, allowing users to streamline business processes and enhance data accuracy.
Workato excels in providing application-to-application data integration with lightweight data transformation and/or preparation. Workato is typically not the right tool for use cases involving high data volumes, complex transformations, and non-application data sources (databases, data warehouses, etc).
Platform Flexibility: Medium-strong at application-to-application integration uses cases but can be challenging for non-application integrations
Platform Scalability: Medium - built for trigger-based processes with low data volumes
Its point-and-click, drag-and-drop interface empowers both technical and non-technical users to effortlessly build and manage data integrations, without relying on Core IT.
The platform supports a wide range of data sources and destinations, with Salesforce being one of its most popular bi-directional connectors. Customers can leverage Integrate.io's 220+ data transformation components to clean and prepare their data without writing a single line of code.
Integrate.io truly shines when companies seek a solution that can ingest data from diverse sources (files, APIs, databases, etc), transform the data as needed, and scale to work with large data volumes.
Bala Balabaskaran, CTO of Fullcast.io, had the following to say about Integrate.io:
Having spent years working at Salesforce, I'm well acquainted with the Salesforce integration space. Integrate.io's platform is the perfect option for teams that need an easy-to-use but powerful Salesforce integration solution.
Platform Flexibility: High - can ingest data from any data source
Platform Scalability: High - can handle any data volume and with fully automated integration scheduling
Deciding On Your Tool of Choice
In conclusion, the Salesforce data integration landscape offers a range of solutions to meet diverse business needs. Whether you're a large Enterprise company with complex data requirements or a smaller organization seeking a quick and user-friendly solution, there is an option available for you.
Consider your specific use cases, implementation timelines, resource availability, and budget constraints when selecting the right integration platform. With the right choice, you can seamlessly integrate external data into Salesforce, unlock valuable insights, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.
If, upon reading the information provided above, you believe that Integrate.io could be the suitable tool for your needs, you can schedule a consultation with one of our Solution Engineers here.