We are connected in every way possible in 2024 so why not integrate our business data for a seamless experience? In this digitally driven modern world, the one thing that dominates the globe is information. So, ensuring the flow of information is critical – what becomes problematic is latency in this flow. Support issues are not contextualized for sales teams. Marketing is not aware of the most recent client victories. Executives find it difficult to identify regional patterns.
Now the question is how to eliminate these issues. How to ensure that the customer experience provided by you is premium? Well, the answer to it is data. Data helps in accelerating growth and real-time data integration makes the whole CX better. No errors, lags, or concerns, just seamless unifying data integration. By using this kind of strategy, businesses may obtain deeper insights and comprehensive visibility, giving them a competitive edge.
The easiest way to enable such a strategy is by adopting Salesforce Connect. The missing link enables a free flow of data across your entire tech ecosystem. With easy automation and zero lag time, Salesforce Connect delivers a unified view of every customer, product, and process.
According to IDC, organizations that leverage real-time data integration achieve an average of 8% higher productivity and cost savings of 6% over 5 years.
Now, imagine sales reps accessing live order data from the ERP suite. Support teams resolve tickets faster with customer history at their fingertips. The possibilities to streamline operations and engagement are endless. But as with any technology, architecting the right Salesforce Connect strategy is key.
We will explore the nuances of Salesforce Connect in this blog article, covering everything from the basic setup to getting the most return on investment. By the time it is all over, you will know exactly how to combine data and users from on-premises, cloud, and legacy systems. Consider the revolutionary impact that instantaneous access to information might have on your business goals. The future is now; let us move forward!
What is Salesforce Connect?
Salesforce Connect is an app cloud integration service with which the users of Salesforce applications can easily access and manage data saved in external sources without any need to leave the Salesforce native environment.
It functions as an integration tool that accesses and displays information from your external CRM or ERP system. You can use external objects to access the data in real-time through web service callouts rather than duplicate it inside your organization.
A recent IDG report states that demand for data integration solutions will grow at 12% CAGR over the next few years.
With less work on integrations and code than API (Application Programming Interface) integrations, this enables you to create a truly integrated system within your business. You also have the option of allowing each user in your Salesforce org to have their own login account or allowing all users to connect to an external data source using the same login account.
Also, read: What are Salesforce Governor Limits?
How Does Salesforce Connect Work?
Salesforce Connect operates on the same fundamental principle as custom objects in Salesforce; the only distinction is that external objects use data that is present in another system. The external object creates a connection between itself and the system holding the object’s data.
A survey by Aberdeen Group found that businesses with real-time data access saw 32% faster response times to customer requests and inquiries.
To access external objects, SF Connect requires a variety of authentication settings. With the help of the following adaptors mentioned below, Salesforce Connect offers a variety of choices for connecting an external data source to itself:
1) Cross-Org Adapter
With almost no coding and only the configuration of this adapter, you can connect multiple Salesforce orgs that can be used by different business units to connect and share data.
With the help of point-and-click tools, this adapter makes use of the Lightning Platform’s REST API to retrieve data from another Salesforce org.
2) OData 2.0 or 4.0 Adapter
OData (Open Data Protocol) is a REST API for data interchange that can connect your Salesforce org to any external system that supports the OData 2.0 or 4.0 protocol.
It helps in producing insightful data for firms from outside sources. Users can transform data into OData queries with a variety of parameters for filtered outputs.
Numerous organizations have already incorporated OData support, including SAP and Microsoft.
3) Apex Custom Adapter
OData and cross-org adapters may not always be sufficient to meet your requirements. In these circumstances, Salesforce Connect gives you the tools and freedom to create your adapter using the Apex Connector Framework.
It is created with Apex Language, which loads data from data sources using the Apex Connector Framework. Although some code may be required, a unique connector can be made to meet your integration requirements.
How and when to use Salesforce Connect?
Salesforce Connect helps in defining the order of detailed objects in the system and the external objects that are mapped in that order. Users have access to both real-time data and customer history data.
91% of IT leaders say removing data silos is a top priority for enabling business agility, as per a Forrester study.
The following Data Integration tasks described below can be carried out by using Salesforce Connect:
- Users can access data using SF Connect that needs a real-time connection.
- Large datasets that users do not want to copy into their organization can be integrated more easily with the help of SF Connect.
- It helps in the integration of small datasets. Users need to be present.
Salesforce Connect can be used, when:
- Display, find, and modify data kept in an external system.
- When you do not want Salesforce to store duplicate data.
- A small amount of real-time data.
- Access to the most recent data.
- Access such as Salesforce object.
Data Integration with Salesforce Connect in various industries:
Salesforce Connect has revolutionized enterprise connectivity and data unification across all industries. The ability to seamlessly bridge Salesforce with external apps is enabling new use cases and driving digital transformation.
For healthcare providers, Salesforce Connect integrates patient data from EHRs into a consolidated clinical view. This holistic profile helps improve care quality and patient satisfaction.
In manufacturing, it allows aggregating IoT sensor data with CRM systems for predictive maintenance and smarter supply chain management. Real-time data helps reduce downtime costs.
For educational institutions, Salesforce Connect integrates student information systems to provide admins with a 360-degree profile and engagement history. It enhances student success tracking and counseling.
In finance, it enables the creation of a single client record from data sourced across policy admin systems, credit bureaus, and other repositories. This powers the next best action and hyper-personalization.
Across industries, Salesforce Connect removes data silos and unlocks innovation. With its robust federated architecture, it future-proofs enterprise analytics and strategic decision-making powered by unified data.
Salesforce Connect customers experience an average of 63% reduction in data synchronization costs.
What are the benefits of Salesforce Connect?
Salesforce Connect provides real-time access to external data sources directly within Salesforce. This allows users to view the most up-to-date information without having to manually synchronize or replicate data across systems.
By virtually connecting to live data, it enables users to make data-driven decisions based on real-time insights.
1) Unified Data Experience
With SF Connect, users can access external and internal data from within a single Salesforce platform. This creates a unified view and interaction layer for all data sources. Users can leverage various Salesforce functionalities like reporting, automation, and search across data that resides in multiple systems.
This unified environment boosts productivity by removing the need for toggling between different applications and data sets.
Integrating CRM data with other apps using Salesforce Connect improves sales rep productivity by 57% according to DataRails.
2) Reduced Data Storage Through Virtualization
Salesforce Connect adopts a virtualized architecture and does not store external data within Salesforce. Instead, it connects to the live data source on demand.
This approach eliminates duplicated data sets and minimizes storage costs associated with data replication. The virtualization model also ensures there is a single source of truth across systems.
3) Simplified Data Modeling and Relationships
The SF Connect framework simplifies cross-system data modeling. It allows users to build relationships between Salesforce (internal) and external objects. This facilitates easy navigation and querying of related data across multiple systems. Complex joins and integrations are centralized through SF Connect.
A McKinsey study found unified customer data is critical for 80% of customer experience improvement initiatives.
4) Agile Integration Capabilities
One of the key benefits of Salesforce Connect is agile and adaptable integration. It can connect to a wide range of external data sources like legacy systems, on-premises databases, and cloud applications.
The pre-built connectors accelerate integrations across heterogeneous environments. This enables seamless data connectivity and exchange.
5) Enhanced Scalability and Performance
By directly accessing the source, Salesforce Connect overcomes the limitations of migrating large data volumes. It can efficiently handle complex data requests across billions of records without affecting performance. This ensures that data accessibility and analytics scale rapidly with business growth.
Organizations using Salesforce Connect for data unification gain insights 48% faster on average.
6) Cost and Time Savings
SF Connect streamlines data management overhead for IT teams by automating sync processes. It eliminates the tedious and expensive tasks of manual data import, export, and reconciliation. The rapid integration capabilities also minimize time-to-market for new data unification projects.
Process of setting up Salesforce Connect:
- Identify Data Sources:
First, determine which external data sources you want to integrate with Salesforce. These could be databases, apps, APIs, etc. Analyze access methods, protocols, and APIs available.
- Create Connected App:
In Salesforce, create a ‘Connected App’ to securely connect to the external system. Configure authentication settings like OAuth.
- Configure Authentication:
Depending on the external source, configure appropriate authentication. For example, OAuth for web apps, and LDAP for databases.
- Define External Objects:
Create external object definitions in Salesforce that map to tables/views in the external system. This allows accessing and synchronizing the data.
- Configure Data Sync:
Optionally, you can enable bi-directional data sync to write back changes from Salesforce to the external source.
- Optimize Data Access:
Optimize queries, indexes, and accessibility settings on the external source to improve Salesforce Connect performance.
- Provide User Access:
Give required users access to external objects through permission sets and licenses based on data security policies.
- Test and Validate:
Thoroughly test the integration, data sync, and queries to identify and fix issues before going live.
- Monitor Usage:
Track usage metrics around external objects and connectors. Fine-tune configurations for optimal load balancing and performance.
- Maintain Integrations:
Monitor version updates and proactively migrate external connectors to maintain integration and performance.
By following these key steps, you can successfully configure and manage Salesforce Connect for your integration needs.
Salesforce Connect Pricing
SF Connect provides a cost-effective and scalable approach to integrate external data into Salesforce, but how is this innovative solution licensed and priced?
Salesforce Connect is available in all Salesforce license editions including Enterprise, Unlimited, and Performance. For accessing standard external data sources like Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce Connect comes bundled at no additional cost.
However, to connect to other custom or premium data sources, you need to purchase Salesforce Connect licenses. The pricing is based on the number of user licenses and the type of external data source. For example, the cost of connecting to an on-premises Oracle database is $600 per user/year while for AWS Redshift it is $300 per user/year.
Also, if you need to build custom adapters to integrate proprietary or legacy systems, additional charges will apply depending on the complexity of integration. Salesforce also offers pre-built certified connectors on AppExchange which come for a subscription fee.
In summary, basic Connect capabilities are included for standard data sources, but custom integration with premium systems requires additional licensing purchases. The modular pricing model allows selective access based on integration needs.
Salesforce Connect Limitations
Since Salesforce Connect does not replicate data, options for manipulating external data are minimal. This can be problematic for tasks like mass updates, deduplication, and cleansing of external data. All data manipulation must be handled at the source.
- External Objects Don’t Support All Features:
External objects created via Salesforce Connect have limitations compared to native Salesforce objects. Functionalities like record triggers, schema changes, and sharing rules are not fully compatible with external objects.
- Difficulty with Highly Complex Queries:
Salesforce Connect queries must fetch data directly from the external source at runtime. Overly complex logic and joining with large data volumes can cause performance bottlenecks. Optimization is required to ensure acceptable response times.
- Unable to Cache Result Sets:
The virtualized architecture restricts the ability to cache result sets of queries on external objects. This limits the reuse of static reference data across sessions and users. The data must be fetched each time a query runs.
- Version Compatibility Challenges:
Salesforce updates can sometimes break existing integrations built using Salesforce Connect due to API changes. This requires additional effort to ensure external connectors remain compatible with platform upgrades.
While Salesforce Connect provides unmatched data integration agility, factors like API availability, transactional sync, and query complexity must be evaluated, especially for mission-critical use cases. A hybrid model may be ideal for balancing performance and flexibility requirements.
72% of marketers say consolidated data is especially important for identifying upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Main Difference Between Salesforce Connect and Lightning Connect
Salesforce Connect is often confused with another Salesforce integration feature – Lightning Connect. While both facilitate connecting external data sources into Salesforce, there are some key differences in their underlying architecture and capabilities.
Lightning Connect is an earlier, read-only version of external data integration introduced by Salesforce. It provides one-way access to external object data within the Salesforce interface.
However, Lightning Connect requires the external system sources to be exposed via OData 2.0 or OData 4.0 protocols. Data ingestion is near real-time but still involves some caching and duplication.
Salesforce Connect is the next-generation external data access framework subsuming Lightning Connect. It provides bi-directional connectivity between Salesforce and external sources through adapters.
SF Connect enables reading and writing access without replicating data. It supports real-time access and wider protocol compatibility with REST, SOAP, and bulk APIs. The advanced federated architecture and virtualization model gives Join greater flexibility and scalability.
In summary, Salesforce Connect builds upon Lightning Connect capabilities taking external data integration to the next level without the limitations of legacy approaches. It is the recommended option for future-proof API-driven integration needs as per Salesforce guidance.
In conclusion, Salesforce Connect emerges as a significant change within the native Salesforce environment, offering users seamless access and management of data from external sources. This integration solution proves invaluable, particularly in scenarios requiring real-time data in smaller volumes or retrieval from backup storage systems, positioning itself as a viable alternative to traditional ETL tools.
This integration strategy’s efficiency becomes evident in its ability to eliminate the need for users to transition between multiple systems, boosting productivity. Furthermore, the consistent and reliable handling of data in real-time facilitates its readiness for analysis at the user’s selected location.
When seeking to try out the full potential of Salesforce Connect, Cynoteck stands out as a trusted firm. Our team of certified Salesforce experts excels in designing and implementing tailored integration solutions. Whether you require real-time data connectivity, scalability for business growth, or comprehensive user training, Cynoteck provides a comprehensive approach.
By partnering with Cynoteck, businesses can not only streamline their Salesforce Connect integration but also ensure data security and compliance, ultimately empowering users to make the most of this powerful integration solution. Cynoteck is your strategic partner, ready to assist in optimizing your CRM experience through Salesforce Connect.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Salesforce Connect utilizes a feature known as external objects, which are like custom objects on Salesforce.
An external object specification includes the external link to the system where the object data is stored. To access remote objects, Salesforce Connect uses several authentication settings.
Salesforce Connect utilizes a protocol-specific adapter to connect to and access data from an external system. Three different types of adaptors exist:
> Cross-org allows access to data in another Salesforce org through the Salesforce API.
> OData connects with any system that accepts the OData 2.0 or 4.0 protocol.
> The Apex Custom Adapter is a piece of code that retrieves data from data sources utilizing the Apex Connector Framework and Salesforce’s Apex language.
Additional Files Connect adapters that are available include:
> OneDrive for Business
> Google Drive
> SharePoint Online
Salesforce Connect can be used when:
> It integrates with substantial amounts of data, and you do not want to copy that into your org.
> Integrations that require the presentation of tiny amounts of data.
> data for which you require a real-time connection.
Lightning Connect is the feature of Salesforce Connect that enables you to access data from external sources and compare it side by side with data from Salesforce.
And Salesforce Connect is an app cloud integration service with which the users of Salesforce applications can easily access and manage data saved in external sources.