In my experience, anytime you add a new application to your existing IT infrastructure, your company wants to start getting value from it as quickly as possible. The faster you can get up and running, the faster your leadership team can see the ROI; however, first, you have to integrate the solution with your existing sales management systems.
Data integration between applications and sales management systems is a top concern for organizations. How your applications integrate with each other is critical to business efficiencies and effectiveness. In order to be successful, you need to know how a new system will work with what you already have in place, as well as how simple it will be to implement.
Due to the above concerns about new tools, it makes sense that Xactly gets frequent questions about integration on our live chat tool. To learn more about our philosophy and approach to integration, I turned to Gary Cottrell, our Director of Strategic Solutions.
Gary has been with Xactly for more than 10 years. In addition to having a wealth of knowledge about our own internal solutions, he’s a veritable integration guru. Working together, we’ve built the following post to explain the value of Xactly’s:
- North Star Approach to Integration
- Best-in-class Application Model
- Xactly Connect™ API Platform
- Familiar-SQL Based Language
- Optimized Compensation Data Model
A North Star Approach
From the beginning, we’ve built out all of our products with the guidance of a North Star approach–always navigating toward the customer environment. Your sales management solutions must be flexible and fit into the broader goals of a customer’s business architecture. We believe that it’s essential that any sales management solution play well with all of the other solutions in your sandbox.
Have you ever seen a vendor diagram showing their technology as the “sun”—with all the other “planets” orbiting around it? In my own career, I’ve seen plenty. Yet, this hub and spoke model just doesn’t correspond with how customers look at any solution in their system.
Why would it? Enterprise companies can invest tens of millions of dollars in data warehouses and critical business platforms, such as ETL, ERP, and HCM systems, among many others. As important as incentive compensation management (ICM)—and even more importantly, sales performance management (SPM)—is to your business, we know that you don’t think about a sales performance management system in isolation from existing processes and platforms. Which is why our priority is to develop flexible solutions that fit logically and easily into your environment—not the other way around.
A Best-in-Class Application Model
This North Star approach also supports Xactly’s philosophy of supporting best-in-class applications. With applications that work well together, companies have the ability to leverage leading solutions across their entire business architecture. Customers shouldn’t be restricted from choosing the solutions that work best for their organization due to a lack of integration. Xactly has the ability to work with any ERP, CRM, or HCM solution that you’re using today.
You Need More Than Just an API
The application program interface (API) is the first requirement to integrate software applications, giving you the necessary gateway for data flow in and out. But—if all you’re getting is an API—you’re being shortchanged. You’re not getting everything you need to use the application. You still need to write a program to tell the system how to get the data in, and what to do with it. An API alone doesn’t give you the ability to leverage an application’s unique features and capabilities.
Gary describes the API as akin to a power outlet sticking out of the application. The best comparison I can think of for this is giving a teenager the keys to the car without the training or know-how to drive it.
Whatever analogy you prefer, Xactly Connect is the solution that fills in the missing pieces. Xactly Connect provides a platform that surrounds the API, improving how your systems and Xactly Incent™ interoperate, with the ability to:
- Use Xactly’s Connect’s Salesforce.com and Workday connectors to quickly pull data into Xactly Incent
- Schedule data collection, calculation, and reporting updates
- Automate key processes, such as scheduling of data collection
- Easily capture data that you may want to save or send out
- Integrate with your existing data architecture, including ETL and data warehouse systems
With its highly specialized platform, Xactly Connect makes it easier to maximize functionality of Xactly Incent and apply customizable business logic to data flows.
For example, perhaps your POS system records sales, but only captures the product SKU. If you want to capture additional transaction details, such as the product family and category, Xactly Connect can easily do this for you by connecting an additional data source (in this case, a daily updated product catalog) – creating a single transaction in Xactly Incent that applies the desired business logic.
No Extra Skillset Required
Traditionally, when someone gets an API for a new piece of software, they also get a massive guide on how to use it.
Users need to learn a vendor’s proprietary “calls” or “endpoints.” They also need to learn the format of the API response. This is often returned as a formatted text file – a format that’s similar to decoding the HTML of a web page, i.e. not simple! All of this means a lot of extra time and effort spent learning a particular vendor’s API.
With Xactly’s Connect’s approach related to ODBC/JDBC, you can return data in a tabular format and also easily customize output to CSV files.
Returning again to the North Star approach, Xactly wants to fit in with what customers already have and understand – not add complexity or create more work for you.
Which is also why Xactly Connect has been built on SQL – the most common language to manage data in a database. You don’t need to go learn a new language – you can basically self deploy without any training. You – or your IT team – will have a familiar language to work with in interacting with the data – simply writing SQL commands just the way you’d do with any other database.
Ease of use is essential to get applications up and running quickly. If you have to reinvent the wheel every time, you lose time and resources.
Gaining Value from an Optimized Data Model
Xactly was the first to provide a SaaS solution in the compensation space. Xactly has now spent over 14 years optimizing our compensation data model for the cloud.
Through the combination of this breadth and depth of experience and expertise, Xactly has been able to build an optimized data model for compensation that’s unparalleled in the industry. Xactly Connect is the key to capturing the value of this data model. Designed to seamlessly integrate all incoming data in the right format, Xactly Connect takes full advantage of Xactly Incent’s optimized data model.
What’s the value of the data model optimized for incentive compensation?
With Xactly’s optimized data model, you get an extensible system designed to support all compensation criteria, letting you:
- Access an extensive library of out-of-the-box reports
- Give reps instant access to incentive statements to see performance against quota
- Easily customize reporting to your needs – with data that’s already joined and normalized
- Use standardized automation processes specific to compensation
Secure Yet Convenient Data Access
Customers have told us that by easily pulling all of their data sources together, Xactly Connect has saved them hundreds of hours of manual labor per month. Xactly Connect provides secure mechanisms to pull data from and push data to any platform – whether the web, your existing ETL application, legacy on-premises applications, or any mobile device.
With greater integration, businesses can increase efficiencies and drive greater results.
If you’re interested in learning more about Xactly Connect, check out this on-demand webinar with Cox Automotive. Using Xactly Connect, Cox Automotive has saved time, and simplified and streamlined internal processes – gaining the ability to bring more strategic value to their business. You can also read more about Cox Automotive's success here.