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This sponsored post is produced by 
Christophe Primault, CEO of CloudWork. 

Micro to mid-size businesses have been able to grow fast and compete hard thanks to using SaaS tools that manage their workload. But those at the front of the pack are now facing the next IT hurdle: the need to get SaaS apps talking to each other.

According to a 2013 market predictions report by business thinktank the SMB group, mid-size companies have reset their IT priorities to acknowledge app integration as their number-one problem to solve this year.

Smaller businesses may have a little more breathing time before they feel the same pain points: but their day is coming, according to the SMB Group.

As they build success, their volume of sales and business activity will replicate the challenges being felt by the larger players, and slow down their ability to stay nimble enough to leapfrog and dodge their competitors when trying to get new ideas to market fast.

There’s no doubt that Software-as-a-Service has allowed more businesses with good ideas and pride in their service quality to be able to hold their own against much larger competitors.

Staying lean by avoiding large investments in software licensing, data storage hardware, and other in-house IT components has meant a greater chance for many business owners to maintain and grow their customer base, and to move quickly to respond to new consumer patterns and demands.

But those productivity gains are set to slow this year as small businesses end up spending more time manually moving data from one app or process to another to get things done.

It’s why Forrester see integration-as-a-service as crucial to the next wave of emerging technologies: app integration and task automation are a main feature of at least 5 of the 15 emerging technologies Forrester has identified.

At CloudWork, where we build robust app integrations to automate functions and reduce manual data handling between apps, we have tested our business model with business users and professionals who are either striving towards being market leaders, or finding their place as ‘fast followers’ (the sweet spot that Lean IT expert and author Steve Bell recommends for business who want to make use of new technologies without having had to do the heavy-lifting of innovation investment and prototype-testing).

With at least 15% of these small businesses using more than five apps, they are looking for robust integration solutions that they can rely on and that work at the push of a button, not after hours or – more likely – days of inhouse API-coding and wrangling.

SaaS has been an inspiring new business approach for many small and mid-size enterprises, but now that the novelty is wearing off, it needs to take its place as a cog in the business process flow.

App integration allows SaaS to do its work so businesses can get back to focusing on their customers. In 2013, app integration tools are set to be the focus for businesses striving to be at the head of the game.

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