An introduction to Zoho Integration
Invariably when you talk about software applications there will come a point that you will talk about integration - connecting one application to another. This is a basic introduction to Zoho Integration - it is not an in depth techy guide, trying to keep it simple. There are a number of reasons for integrating two software packages, but the two key reasons are:
- Data consistency - enter data once and have it replicated. This also reduces the potential for error in manual replication of data. A very common example here is between the CRM system and Accounts package. When you win a piece of business on CRM, you don't want to manually replicate Customer details on the Accounts package.
- The second key reason is time saving. Using the example above you win a piece of business on the CRM system; you now need to add them to the service desk, accounts package, update their email marketing details, etc. It would be much simpler, faster and time efficient if those systems were updated automatically.
Native Zoho Integration
One of the advantages of using apps from a single supplier, or a bundle like Zoho CRMPlus or Zoho One is that Zoho have built a number of Zoho Integrations within this apps. If you are using Zoho CRMPlus it is very straightforward and fast to connect it to Zoho Analytics, Zoho Survey, Zoho Campaigns, Zoho Desk, Zoho SalesIQ, etc. The Zoho Integration is built by Zoho, maintained by Zoho and is readily available within the app. These native Zoho Integrations are quick and simple to implement. They just work!
Webhooks are a very simple way of sending data from one app to another. You might have a scenario where when a Deal is marked as Close Won on Zoho CRM you want Zoho Books to create an invoice. The first part is using a workflow based on Deal Equals Closed Won and the second part is the action Webhook. The Webhook would typically consist of a Username and Password (or authentication code), and payload (the information being sent from one app to another. Each app constructs their Webhooks slightly differently but still in a fairly standard format so it is a case of reading the documentation and understanding the formatting. If you wanted to create a Webhook from Zoho CRM you can learn more by reading their documentation.
We are all familiar with the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, a place where you can go to buy apps that enhance the functionality of your phone. Zoho Marketplace is exactly the same concept. Zoho Marketplace is where developers (sometimes Zoho, sometimes third parties, sometimes other software vendors) have build a Zoho Integration and made it available on the Zoho Marketplace. Some of the extensions (as they are called) are available for free and some you pay for. So, for example, if you want to connect Zoho CRM with Mailchimp there is a free extension built by Zoho which will allow you to do this.
Before we had Zoho Marketplace, some companies developed Zoho integrations and made them available "off the shelf" - simple to activate, simple to initiate. A number of these still exist and are not in the Zoho Marketplace. For example, if you are using Xero for your accounts, there are three apps available in the Zoho Marketplace which allow you to connect Zoho with Xero. We are also aware of a number of other third party integrations not listed on the Zoho Marketplace which are available. The decision is very much about functionality, usability and cost. Please contact us and we can assist you in the decision.
An integration platform is where developers have tried to simplify the complexity of building a custom integration by building a number of connections to software applications that you can then use a drag and drop interface to build a custom integration. Zoho Flow is Zoho's Integration platform which currently has 350+ Applications available (July 2019). As well as building with the drag and drop interface Zoho Flow also has a template gallery. So, for example, if you wanted to create a Google Calendar Event from a GMail Email there is a template available to do this. With Zoho Flow you also have the ability to use Deluge, Zoho's custom scripting language, to make even more complex flows.
Custom Built Zoho Integration
There are times when none of the above options work for you this is when you would build a custom Zoho Integration. Integrations like this use an API (Application Programming Interface) - this is in very simple terms is a way to pass data from one software app to another software app. The ability to use an API really depends on the software vendor. Zoho, for example, are very open with their APIs - providing excellent documentation (for example Zoho CRM API information). However we have found some software vendors don't open an API to developers or they open it with very limited functionality.
So what is the correct option for my Zoho Integration?
The answer is it depends. The above is designed just to give you a very brief overview of how you can integrate Zoho apps. It is also there to reassure you that there are many different ways of integrating software application with Zoho and some are actually very simple, quick, and cost effective. The best way is contacting us with your requirements and we can discuss the options available with you. We have completed many integration projects and some are effectively repeat requirements for different customers.