If you want to build an agile business, you need a flexible finance system. What you need to know about interoperability in the cloud.

Inigo Montoya: I do not think that word means what you think it means. (The Princess Bride)

The cloud age has given old words new implications.

Take integration, for instance. Today’s decision-makers want interoperable finance systems—solutions flexible enough to integrate for organization needs.

Too often, executives seeking agility meet vendors claiming that only certain cloud models can deliver it.  These providers caution buyers against the so-called ‘true’ or ‘pure’ cloud. A unified and multi-tenant solution cannot support modern businesses, they warn. Instead, organizations should look to their models: some form of on-premises, hybrid, or cloud-ported legacy software.

These claims miss the mark on two counts.

First, they misunderstand what it means for cloud systems to integrate. Second, a closer look actually reverses the charge. Modern CFOs gain greater flexibility from financial solutions in the true, unified cloud than from any other model.

What we mean when we talk about software integrations

1. The historical meaning

Now, we must acknowledge one point. For unified, public cloud solutions, integration means something entirely different.

Consider the historical approach. Organizations hire consultants to install and link multiple on-premises applications within a hardware-bound environment. Integrating these systems demands both coding acumen and extensive experience. Companies pay integrators to ‘break’ and rewrite each product’s code, a process they usually have to replicate for each device and user in the enterprise.

This approach sows problems. Integration comes at steep prices, elongates rollout timelines, and interrupts normal business function. Knowing that each new version will require new integrations, organizations delay updates. Some never upgrade at all. Sunk costs frequently motivate customers to use their current systems long past the point of obsolescence. Total cost of ownership (TCO) skyrockets, while security and efficiency suffer. Limited by high fees and fragile data sharing, enterprises struggle to expand, pivot, and exploit new opportunities.   

Hybrid and cloud-ported legacy systems both preserve key disadvantages of the traditional approach. Customers of the hybrid model build a system through integrations, cobbling together an ideal solution from different modules and environments—workflow in the public cloud, cash management on-premises. In these build-your-own systems, the difficulties of hard-coded integration meet the challenge of connecting dissimilar platforms. Predictably, security suffers: integrated hybrid systems draw more cyberattacks than any other platform.

Meanwhile, on-premises vendors have engaged in a practice known as ‘cloud-washing.’ A legacy vendor ports a flagship system coded for a legacy environment into the cloud. They often prepare it for the new platform by reducing functionality and splitting functional areas into add-on modules. The result is a system ill-suited for interoperability in the cloud age.

2. Unified and Public Cloud: A New World for Software Integrations

So how does a public, unified solution integrate?

Consider those two words: unified and public. Unified means that the provider has designed its entire cloud finance solution to function as a whole: each module already in seamless communication with every other. Public means the true, multi-tenant cloud, seen at its best in providers that host all customers on a single software instance.

Software Integrations

Hence: a unified and public cloud solution integrates by connecting—not merging—two or more cloud-based systems to share data and coordinate processes. True cloud integrations happen by design—in no circumstances does integration ‘break’ or rewrite code. Providers craft solutions for interoperability and support multiple avenues for integration.

When true cloud meets a unified design, three integration paths open to customers.

1. Built-in system integrations come as part of the solution. Customers shoulder no additional expense for essential modules or native APIs. With core finance functions already in native communication with each other, organizations can focus on integrating for their unique requirements. A true cloud solution will implement by hierarchy: all integrations will automatically inherit downward to every user in an enterprise. The provider can issue seamless releases and security patches with minimal disruption to customer business.

2. Partnered integrations. As multiple customers establish integrations over time, a unified and true-cloud solution will form established connections with common integration partners. Significantly, this means that the customer does very little to ‘earn’ or ‘create’ such a relationship. They need only perform minor customization, and all users will have immediate access to partner integrations.

3.  Customers can also forge unique connections to the external systems they need. A true, unified finance solution like Xledger will equip customers for multiple varieties of integration. Xledger outstrips competitors in the breadth and depth of its integration tools. Customers can automate data import, perform direct export, or establish export/import connections through a wide range of methods: SOAP web services ((including flat file, JSON, and HTML formats), Xledger’s folder service, directly through Excel, or by using GraphQL.

GraphQL equips CFOs with the widest possible range of options for interoperability. When most financial software providers rely on aging protocols like REST and OData, Xledger has joined the ranks of tech giants like Facebook and GitHub in supporting GraphQL as a future-ready API. The GraphQL protocol uses tokenization to save time and heighten precision. Users generate a token for each specific query, which they can then use to extract exactly what they need while maximizing server performance. Decision-makers, not servers, decide what they need to see.

In summary, the unified, multi-tenant cloud both redefines and expands integration. Finance leaders can forge the integrations they need when, where, and how they need them. Users at every level of technical expertise can integrate with ease. Once an integration is created, every user in the enterprise will benefit. Organizations never again need to pay for third-party integrators or complex re-integrations, and support costs plummet. A unified, true-cloud solution like Xledger issues seamless releases and security patches at no additional cost. CFOs can optimize integrations for data security and establish only the interoperability they need.

Xledger empowers 10,000+ customers worldwide with the market’s most automated and unified finance solution. From folder services exports to full GraphQL functionality, Xledger equips every organization with the interoperability they need to prosper. Establish automated bank integrations with institutions like Chase and Wells Fargo or leverage a variety of pre-established integration partnerships including Salesforce and Microsoft. Trusted by globally trusted audit firms BDO and PwC, Xledger protects every customer’s data like our own in an ISO 27001-certified true cloud environment.

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