Being able to integrate your web CMS with third party systems is essential when it comes to connecting the different areas of your business that you’ve already established, and growing those areas where you wish to expand.
However, different CMS platforms come with different ways of setting up and configuring system integrations, so before picking a web CMS it’s important to consider what the implications will be for your business processes and your site’s future expandability.
In this article we outline the three main aspects we think you should keep in mind when it comes to CMS integrations, so that you can be best prepared to making a choice that will serve you not only now, but in the years to come.
1. It’s not about connecting, it’s about configuring
System integrations are typically set up via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), connections that allow your different applications to talk to each other. However, some integrations are easier to connect than others, depending on elements such as whether they’re hosted in the same server, on the cloud or internally. Some common protocols make it much easier for disparate applications and services to communicate, for example those running over HTTPS, using REST services with JSON support and OAuth or other token-based authentication.
But setting up integrations isn’t just about connecting. It is also about configuring. In fact, 99% of the integration setup process involves customizing and configuring it specifically within the features that your web CMS provides. For example, some CMS platforms provide web hooks, enabling particular events to trigger API calls to your systems. These web hooks therefore allow you to define very specific parameters in which you would like business processes with integrations to happen.
The key, then, is to find a CMS that allows you to configure your integrations exactly in the way you need them. For example, when it comes to a CRM such as Salesforce, which is in itself very configurable, your CMS should allow you to implement very custom business processes across your website and CRM. This will allow you to keep a very well-defined lead generation process across the board. And it will also enable you to define very specific processes; for example, do you want leads to go straight into Salesforce, or would you prefer them to go to your CMS first for approval? Would you like to set specific lead personas depending on their buying process? Do you need notifications every time an order goes through a status update? And so on and so forth. The more configurable your CMS is, the more specific you can make these processes.
2. Trust the cloud
If the above sounds appealing and you are looking for a highly configurable web CMS, your best bet is to find a cloud-based CMS, as these platforms are best positioned to provide the types of integrations mentioned above.
Cloud-based platforms such as Azure are particularly great solutions for CMS configuration, because they have very well-defined ways of, for example, getting through firewalls, in contrast to platforms such as Dynamics that can be, and often are, hosted internally. Since Azure is cloud-based and offers centralized regions and hardware deployments, it is able to evolve quickly to solve business problems, leading to new features or expansions to feature sets. So, as Azure grows, your website and apps can evolve and grow along with it.
In contrast, if a website is hosted inside someone’s infrastructure, data coming in and out will normally follow a strict set of rules.
3. Let your website grow with your business
Ultimately, the best web CMS platform for you is going to be one that allows your website to grow with your business in the mid- to long-term. Choosing a cloud-based and highly configurable solution is the first step, but you should also think about finding a solution that allows you to add new integrations and features over time.
As we mentioned, platforms such as Azure are great at connecting you to a wide variety of APIs, so the combination of Azure and a CMS that is highly configurable is ideal. As long as integrations have a well-defined API, Azure allows you to set up new integrations very easily. All you have to do is build the API and the system will easily integrate. A single API may also allow you to connect to multiple systems, reducing development time.
In comparison, other platforms require you to use a plugin or module in order to configure integrations, which normally have a predefined way of connecting your systems, meaning that they can only do a very specific thing. Depending on your needs, this may require additional customization or installing multiple plugins to carry out your specific business process. This, of course, comes with additional development time and costs, and provides very little flexibility and adaptability to your unique needs. The result is a platform that places little emphasis on growth and evolution, which can lead your website to getting stuck in the mid- to long-term.
What you need is a platform that’s forwards- as well as backwards-compatible and with a strong emphasis on changing and growing along with your business. This means that features that don’t work should disappear with time, and those that do should move forward and continue evolving. Only a configurable and cloud-based CMS platform that is committed to growing and evolving along with you will enable you to build a durable and expandable site of the future.