iPaaSing with Flying Colors: Top iPaaS for Education Institutions

November 2nd, 2019

Anyone who’s worked in education knows that it can be a workplace unlike any other. From the hierarchy to the content to the clientele (students), educational employees encounter unique challenges and opportunities daily.

Education is also changing in ways that reflect technological trends across the economy. Academic spaces are increasingly digital, from student information management on campuses to actual digital classrooms and learning content. Just like the broader business world, educational organizations like universities, eLearning companies, and educational management organizations can benefit from integrating their growing software sprawl.

Like other businesses, educational organizations don’t all have the IT support to integrate everything in house. Fortunately, Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) can help educational organizations break down internal data silos and automate routine processes to help employees focus on the work that matters.

If you think your education organization could benefit from better integration, but don’t know where to start, you’re in luck! Others in your industry have already adopted various iPaaS offerings for their organizations. We’ve compiled data of iPaaS users from educational organizations that have reviewed their products on TrustRadius, and we now have some key takeaways on the top iPaaS products for education. These insights can help you determine which product is the best fit for you. They are listed in order of their target market segment size (from Enterprise/Large organization-focused to small business or personal use).

TIBCO Cloud

TIBCO Cloud starts the list with the widest user spread in terms of organization size. While their general user base trends towards enterprises, TIBCO has users in education from small eLearning to enterprise Education Management.

A user from a medium-sized company utilizes TIBCO to integrate their outreach tool with a back-end data repository. The user noted the ability to customize their product package to their needs, and adjust it over time as necessary. The reviewer also cautioned that while the platform can process large batches of data, it struggles and takes noticeably longer to handle the high volume.

Another user also heavily criticized TIBCO for its ability to handle large batches of data. This user comes from a large enterprise (10,000+ employees) and uses TIBCO to integrate Salesforce with SQL Server databases. While simple integrations were quick and easy to build, the difficulty with high volumes of data was a serious pain point for this user.

In contrast, another SQL server integration deployment appeared to go much more smoothly for a slightly smaller organization. The variation in experience indicates that larger educational organizations investigating TIBCO Cloud should look closely at how much data they want their iPaaS to handle to ensure that the platform can process it comfortably.

Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services

Informatica’s Intelligent Cloud Services is primarily used by mid-sized educational organizations, ranging from 200-1000 employees. Most users appear to use Informatica to import data into Salesforce.

In one case, Informatica is used directly by administrators within the Office of Admission, with planned rollout to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. For these administrators, the data mapping capabilities automated and simplified data imports into their CRM. This can be immensely impactful for admissions offices, which handle the highest volume of contact information of any campus organization.  

Informatica plays a similar role for larger mid-sized education management companies. One user again notes the data mapping and data cleaning benefits for contact management. They also warn that the platform requires either prior technical experience or an initial learning curve to understand the interface and functionality. Without this initial phase, you risk leaving valuable capabilities underutilized.

Jitterbit

Jitterbit is used by small businesses to medium-sized enterprises. Like Informatica, it often helps educational organizations integrate their other tools with Salesforce.

It’s also used to integrate academic software like Banner. For academic integrations, a Banner user reports excellent documentation that facilitates an easy implementation process. However, the user is also a high level DevOps specialist, so the learning curve may be higher for less technical users.

One user who serves as the Associate Dean of Admission highlights this distinction. In their use case, Jitterbit imports data from external data sources into Salesforce and enables data transformations so the data is usable when it reaches Salesforce. While the functionality still yields benefits, it is not always clear what some parts of the interface do. This may necessitate more training or trial and error for users with less technical backgrounds.

Zapier

Zapier generally occupies the niche of “small scale business integration,” and it serves this capacity well for education organizations. There are some midsized business users, but most of its user base are small business or personal use cases. Zapier reviewers demonstrate the platforms’ core functionality, and some users push the limits of the offering.

In the latter case, one user within a government department that supports educational organizations uses Zapier to join user-generated events to better manage said events. Integrating user events across different systems enables the department to automate workflows and prevent human error. While Zapier’s capabilities can scale with users’ experience levels, the user reported the free version’s complexity is very limited, and licensing wasn’t flexible to meet specific use cases.

Other users deploy Zapier to integrate technology across their organizations. Some users find the free version comparatively powerful, so its usefulness can be contingent on what integrations you need in particular. If Zapier can deliver the integrations you need, its automation capabilities can yield significant time savings as a return on investment.

Zapier’s simplicity and accessibility does have drawbacks. Zapier may not offer as many niche integrations as it does general business apps. One user who found Zapier’s app library lacking also notes that users should take extra precautions if handling sensitive information, such as financial or private information. However, if you work in a business capacity in a smaller education organization, Zapier may be an ideal match for you.

IFTTT

IFTTT blurs the line between integrations for businesses and consumers. However, academia is also an unusual workplace, so there may be unique opportunities to utilize IFTTT. In any case, IFTTT is generally used for personal use in small organizations. As such, you should explore this product from a personal use case, rather than an organizational one.

One user also found that IFTTT can serve their personal integration needs as a complement to how their organization already uses Zapier. The user chose this deployment style to get the most out of the free personal version of IFTTT while leaving more complex business-focused integrations to Zapier.

Another user highlighted IFTTT’s ability to integrate apps with Google Suite, as well as syncing their content across social media platforms. The user found that IFTTT’s mobile app gives it a competitive advantage over Zapier and similar products.

However, both users acknowledged that IFTTT lacks in business integrations. IFTTT can excel as a personal-use integration platform, but you should be cautious of trying to stretch the product’s capabilities beyond what it’s designed to do.

These users’ insights should start you on the path towards the iPaaS that can best meet your needs. Want more insight into how other people in education have used iPaaS? Check out the full list of iPaaS products here. Looking for a broader breakdown of the iPaaS market? Check out the iPaaS market segmentation, as well as our deep dives into the small scale, mid-market, and enterprise segments!