Business loves data. Organizations are collecting and storing it at extraordinary levels, and that’s a good thing, right? With more of the right data, you can improve business processes for your customers and workforce, simplify tasks, and reduce errors.
But massive data is only useful if you can get it into the right hands. How can we access customer-relationship-management (CRM) information from one system, combine it with inventory data from another system, and then present it to a mobile user in real time using a single form that is accessible from Microsoft SharePoint?
For many of us, SharePoint is the primary repository for accessing forms and documents, but company and customer information is spread across multiple, disparate line-of-business (LOB) systems, each of which is useful but siloed by proprietary technology. Business applications that combine data from multiple, isolated sources require:
- Specialized technical knowledge
- Experienced development expertise
- Long-term resource commitments from IT to design and maintain apps
Given these hurdles, it’s no surprise that only 47 percent of SharePoint users have connected SharePoint with other systems, according to a 2015 AIIM report.1 As a result, nearly half of SharePoint users are turning to third-party SharePoint solutions to help create business apps that can span LOB systems.1 A comprehensive third-party solution can help you go beyond SharePoint out-of-the-box functionality to combine data from multiple sources without needing to hire a specialized development team. But how do you choose the right third-party tool for the job?
Three indispensable features you need to create business apps for SharePoint
For a comprehensive, intuitive and secure solution, look for the following three features:
1. Simpler integration across your LOB systems
To be effective, the solution needs to enable your users to build business apps, electronic forms and workflows that can span multiple SharePoint libraries and sites, in addition to other LOB systems, without specialized technical knowledge. You shouldn’t have to rely on IT to build and maintain apps. In addition, the right solution should work just as easily with SharePoint on premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment.
2. Reusable components
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Once you’ve created connections that span LOB systems for one form or app, you shouldn’t have to start over. The right tool should allow you or other teams to reuse components or forms, as needed, as standalone solutions or as part of complete workflows.
3. Secure connection points
In a 2015 AIIM survey, SharePoint users reported security as one of their biggest concerns when it comes to connecting systems.1 Some third-party solutions store sensitive data in the apps you create. Even if the app is password-protected, this method can increase vulnerability because both the sensitive data and the username and password information are stored in the app itself. To better protect your business, look for a solution that provides a secure, real-time connection to your LOB systems from your apps. That lets you rely on the security controls that you already have in place, so users only have access to the data that they are allowed to view and modify.
Get more from your data
With the right solution, you can empower your workforce with fast, secure forms, apps and workflows that span your SharePoint and LOB systems.
To get the full story on integrating SharePoint, read the K2 guide “A smarter way to integrate with SharePoint” at http://content.k2.com/social_70114000002WYuD.
1 Survey. AIIM. “Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint — and important strategy choices.” 2015. http://info.aiim.org/sharepoint.