What is a Native Integration and Should You Use it for Your SaaS?

Data Engineering
Aug 10, 2023
What is a Native Integration and Should You Use it for Your SaaS?

If you’re looking for ways to make your SaaS product more valuable to your customers, native integrations are an obvious choice. They allow a workflow automation between two apps so they can communicate and exchange data in real time.

But these custom integrations cost significant time and money and require plenty of developer resources. Should you build them for your SaaS product?

Today, we answer this question, among many others you wanted to know about native integrations.

What is a native integration?

In a native integration, two or more applications directly communicate with one another via application programming interfaces (APIs). 

With data flowing from one app to the other, product users can enjoy a better, seamless experience without having to use the two separate logins or user interfaces.

This functionality provides an amazing customer experience, but it comes at a high cost of building integrations.

Let’s illustrate two ways native integrations can take shape in your platform.

1. Native integrations as connectors between SaaS products

In the B2B SaaS context, ‘native integrations’ often refer to direct connectors between two SaaS products.

Slack integrations are a well-known example of this strategy. Do you get automatic Slack notifications when a support ticket is added to a CRM such as HubSpot? Or when a new deal is closed?

Integrations between software, like HubSpot and Slack, help teams work more efficiently. For example, support reps can act quicker on tickets because they get alerted in the tools they use most.

a hubspot integration for Slack
Image source: HubSpot

Data connectors in business intelligence software are another example. Most BI tools connect to popular databases in one click. Or even load data from software like Salesforce, Quickbooks, or others. Thanks to API integration, data visualizations are always up-to-date with the latest data.

These app integrations automate complex workflows for your product users. Developers can build their own connectors or use embedded iPaaS solutions to do so.

2. Native integration as a fully immersive experience

Compared to native connectors, engineering teams can also fully integrate a software component into their platform. 

With true native software integrations, one piece of software becomes a native capability of your product. You can integrate both commercial software and open-source libraries. This includes functionalities like embedding video room APIs, which allows real-time video communication features to be integrated directly into your platform.

Its capabilities become a natural extension of your platform, thanks to a seamless integration process:

  • Re-uses the security mechanisms you already have in place.
  • No separate login screens to access the integrated software.
  • Fully takes over the look and feel of your product and meets your customers’ integration needs.
  • Communicates in (near) real-time with other parts of your product.

More and more development teams use composable architecture for their products. Such software integrations are great for complex features that aren’t necessarily core to your platform as they streamline the work of your developers. Or, if your team lacks the specific skill set to build these capabilities.

To add these composable blocks faster, low-code software applications are growing in popularity.

Embedded analytics is a great example of such reusable components. It adds reporting and analytics capabilities directly into any application. 

Engineers can customize the experience using powerful API integrations. Meanwhile, product teams can create and maintain reports with a drag-and-drop interface.

SaaS teams become more efficient with this new way of development. Product managers get more autonomy in the development ecosystem. Developers skip time-consuming work on building a SaaS integration. The customer gets a better experience. Everyone wins.

Example of an embedded analytics component, fully native to a SaaS product's interface.

Other similar, well-known examples are:

  • Stripe for payment processing inside your app
  • Twilio for in-app communication and customer support
  • Userpilot for adding user onboarding flows
  • Braze for sending push notifications

Are low-code native integrations right for you?

There are plenty of good resources on the pros and cons of native connectors. Therefore, we’ll focus on the second example of native integration in this article.

Benefits of low-code integrations

1. Faster development

With native integrations, your team can deliver new features faster. But your engineers become more efficient as well when they use an integration platform. By using building blocks, your developers can focus more on their core tasks. And fewer distractions means more output.

“We needed to drastically lower the amount of effort to develop customized dashboards,” says Alexis Lesage, CTO of a French PropTech SaaS. “With a native integration for analytics, we reduced the time to produce new dashboards from weeks to days. Even to hours.”

2. Better user experience

Native integrations are seamless. The integrated application adapts completely to your platform’s style and branding. By adding new capabilities to your SaaS product, your users will have a better experience. They no longer need two separate applications to perform a single task.

From the experience of Thierry Vermeiren, COO at workplace solution Workero, product users are reluctant to switch between applications. “Adding native capabilities to his software creates trust,” says Thierry.

3. Affordable

Native integrations are not only faster, but also more affordable. With the average yearly developer salary clocks out at $109k, hand-coding complex features is expensive. 

Low-code tools save costs while lowering the barrier to validating a product idea. Growing SaaS companies can build and launch MVPs quickly, all while keeping their pricing down and making it easier for their sales team to pitch the product.

Obstacles when natively integrating software building blocks

1. Dependency and vendor lock-in

No matter how flexible the solution is, a native integration is always a dependency. If the integrated software changes – or worse, gets deprecated – you need to adapt.

In addition, some software libraries don’t integrate into simply any tech stack. However, there are plenty of tech-agnostic applications on the market. It comes down to doing proper research and choosing the right one for your business needs.

2. Pushing the limits of flexibility

With flexible APIs, engineers can customize and develop complex integrations. However, using APIs can be a learning curve and requires engineering time. 

Even though building blocks are quicker than in-house development, you’ll need to consider this when creating your roadmap as it will affect your scalability.

Getting started with native integrations

Product users shouldn’t struggle with multiple SaaS tools to perform simple tasks. Native software integrations offer a user-friendly, affordable alternative to this problem.  

Engineering teams deploy features faster with composable building blocks. With the low-code tools of today, your users will have the native experience they dream of in no time.

For that reason, more and more engineering teams choose for low-code software. We encourage you to give it a try, and see how native integrations can work for your needs.

Have reporting and insights been on your product roadmap for too long? Luzmo helps SaaS teams deploy client-facing analytics at record speed, fully native to your platform. Start a free trial on our platform and see what you can accomplish in 10 days.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a native integration and an API?

An API gives developers tools to let two apps communicate with each other. It’s like having LEGO pieces to build a house. On the other hand, native integration is a finished integration solution between two apps that determines how the two work together, distribute data, and more.

What is the difference between custom and native integrations?

As the name suggests, custom integrations are those that are fully developed to meet a specific use case. For example, getting LinkedIn data to your CRM and populating specific fields. Native integrations are pre-built in SaaS apps, which means that they are quicker to use and deploy, but allow less flexibility.

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