Zapier really bowled me over a couple of years ago when I first stumbled across their service.
I have worked around the Salesforce platform for nearly 10 years now and much of that has been focused on complex projects that require system, process or data integrations.
When I first used Zapier I was amazed at the simplicity of their approach and how this contrasted with a traditional data integration implementation.
Over the years I have listened to many sales pitches from heavy weight integration middleware providers where they describe the possibility of integration in weeks, or days… or even hours! These sessions always left me with a knowing smirk on my face… knowing that the reality would be a 6-12 month implementation programme.
Then Zapier started talking about integration in minutes!!
The data integration industry is large, complex, established and dominated by large software vendors such as IBM, Informatica and Microsoft, and on the most part this is absolutely fine! This scale provides the stability and governance that global enterprise customers need.
Small to medium businesses – those that grew up with the cloud or were able to move much of their operations to the cloud – however have been trapped by this mismatch in operating and revenue models of the cloud versus large software vendors. Integrating salesforce to external systems became an overly costly process for these organisations, which has inhibited innovation within their businesses.
A new model for integration.
Then Zapier and some other cloud-app-trigger-action services came along and started to disrupt the data integration space. Some might say that this happened long before Zapier, as vendors began to offer cloud versions of their existing offerings e.g, Informatica Cloud, Scribe Online, Cast Iron Cloud, etc, but I think that these services although a huge step forward were merely re-enginering the delivery mechanism without any huge change to the value proposition. Zapier brought affordability, simplicity and speed of implementation to data and process integration, to the extent that I no longer consider integration via Zapier as an implementation! Its just another task!
This affordability and simplicity is made true by the fact that I have personally been a fully signed-up paying customer of Zapier for the past two years. I am not a business, or a Zapier implementation professional, just a person with an interest and the desire to play around. I became a paying customer because I could and because the first pricing tier seems to operate at a consumer price point. The cost is $15 a month and it gives me up to 20 integrations that run every 15 minutes and connect to in excess of 500 endpoints. This makes Zapier a similar investment as Spottify, Amazon Prime or my Office 365 subscription, it provides a useful occassional consumer priced service to IT professionals.
A multi-action workflow architecture
Zapier have made the service massively more powerful and extended the scope of my 20 integrations. They added multi-step-zaps (multi-action workflows) for free! The original service was essentially point-to-point, a trigger-action flow, but now we can add multiple actions to a single trigger, orchestrated from the configured Zap.
When a customer registers for my “Awesome Event”, we need to create the customer in Xero for invoicing purposes, and then create the customer in salesforce in a Business Account/Contact model and append both an Opportunity and an Order to the Account with appropriate statuses.
When the form is submitted through Cognito forms, the workflow is kicked off in real time. Cognito pushes into Zapier with a webhook.
Within Xero we create a new contact with the data from the form, and we attach to this an invoice in a pending state for finance to approve.
Within Salesforce we then take the same data from the form and first search for a matching account and contact pair, if we don’t find them we create them. We add to this an Order and Opportunity to provide visibility to both the sales process and the service delivery process, we specify the order number in salesforce from a concatenation of the Cognito forms Id and the Xero invoice number to ensure that all is cross reference-able.
I am not affiliated or sponsored by Zapier in any way, I honestly just feel this is an awesome service. Of course if anyone from Zapier is reading this… one of those zappy free t-shirts would be lovely!