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With the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has provided enhancements to Business Connectivity Services (BCS) and External List capabilities that make it easier than ever to surface data from external data sources in your SharePoint environment. Implementing solutions for things like a help desk ticketing application or a sales dashboard no longer need developer resources that have to code a custom solution.
Here at K2, we’ve noticed that as our customers needs mature and they start to build more complex solutions, the out-of-the-box data integration features in SharePoint don’t provide the flexibility they need. Let’s look at a typical sales order solution as an example.
Using SharePoint’s External List capabilities, we can build a solution that will surface customer information from a Microsoft Dynamics CRM system along side product availability information from an in-house inventory database. Updates to product availability information based on outstanding customer orders can be easily created from within the External List and your back in system will be updated accordingly.
But, what if you want to send those updates to a manager for approval before the change occurs? Because of existing limitations with External Lists, this isn’t possible without writing custom code.
That’s where K2 comes in. With K2’s SmartObject framework, we’re able to surface and update data from external sources without using SharePoint’s External List functionality, which means limitations, like starting a workflow, don’t exist.
K2 SmartObjects can integrate line-of-business data with your SharePoint environment, both on-premises and in the cloud, but can also be used to surface that same data in your forms, your reports or any other business application you may have – even if it’s not running within the context of SharePoint.
K2 provides you with data integration capabilities that are as easy and secure to use as SharePoint’s BCS capabilities, but without the limitations.
You can learn more about K2’s data integration capabilities and the K2 SmartObject Framework in the video above, where Olaf Wagner, K2’s SVP of Product Management demonstrates how easy it is to create a SharePoint-based app that integrates with line-of-business data using K2.