As operating costs increase, the talent pool shrinks, and markets get rocky, you’re going to start looking for ways to streamline your workflows. Some organizations turn to layoffs while others might sell off entire sections of a business. But there’s one way you can improve operations without busting your budget or cutting your workforce: automation software.
Let’s get a quick definition of automation software, cover the most common categories, and look at a few examples of each.
What is automation software?
Automation software is a category that encompasses any tool or platform that automatically handles tasks for you. These tasks can range from simple, like adding data to a spreadsheet, to complex, like managing an entire onboarding process. These platforms come in many forms, from dedicated tools that let you set up simple one-way automations between tools to full-service platforms that allow you to build more complex workflows.
5 types of automation software
Let’s dive into some of the different ways you can use automation in your workflows. Here are some of the most common types of automation software you’ll find.
- Integration software as a service (iSaaS): Much like other tools in your arsenal, iSaaS platforms are cloud-based software that’s designed to be easy to use and deploy. Tools like Zapier — which let you easily set up simple automations between platforms — would fall in this category.
- Integration platform as a service (iPaaS): While they’re also usually cloud-based, these platforms allow users to create more thorough automations, usually by setting up sequences of automatic actions. MuleSoft is an example of an iPaaS solution.
- Robotic process automation (RPA): A bit more advanced than other tools, RPA platforms allow users to create software “bots” that automate manual actions in a way that mimics human actions more closely than other integrations. One of the main advantages of these platforms is that they can support a broader range of actions than integration platforms.
- Built-in automation: Many of the software tools you’re already using have built-in automation features that will save you a ton of manual work. HubSpot, for example, can help you automate a ton of marketing tasks, from sending emails to pushing contacts through a multi-channel campaign.
- Workflow management: A workflow management solution like Unito goes a little bit further than your typical automation platform. Instead of just pushing data from one tool to the next, workflow management platforms help keep data in sync throughout your workflow, meaning you’re always working with up-to-date information.
5 examples of automation software
Now that you have an idea of what kind of automation software you’ll find out there, let’s cover some of the most common choices.
Zapier is one of the most popular choices for iSaaS platforms. It has a simple interface, straightforward automations, and you won’t need any advanced technical skills to make use of it. Zapier has over 6000 integrations for all sorts of tools, from spreadsheet platforms to CRMs and project management tools.
Mulesoft is an iPaaS and RPA platform that allows more technical users to build complex workflows using a sequence of automated actions. You can manage API access for various workflows, integrate your tools, and automate workflows to save time for all teams.
HubSpot Operations Hub
HubSpot is a strong all-in-one tool with features that support marketing teams, customer service agents, salespeople, and more. The HubSpot Operations Hub allows you to automatically sync customer data from multiple tools through HubSpot, meaning you never have to work with outdated information.
Another example of an iPaaS solution, Tray.io supports more than 500 connectors, including tools like Shopify, Zoom, Google Sheets, and Salesforce. As a more technical example of automation software, it can be a bit tougher to set up than other solutions, but allows technical users to roll out complex integrations with multiple automations.
Unito is a workflow management solution with deep, two-way integrations for over 30 of the most popular software tools on the market, like Asana, Jira, HubSpot, Trello, Google Sheets, and more. These integrations sync data back and forth between tools, meaning you don’t have to do any extra work just because you need to work across tools.
Why you need to go beyond automation software
Most automation solutions push data from one tool to the other. While iPaaS solutions can enable more complex workflows, they still only work in one direction. Combining multiple automations can simulate a two-way sync, but can often lead to endless loops and other errors. That’s why a workflow management solution is usually the best option when you want to keep data in sync between tools. Here’s why:
- Easier to set up: An iPaaS solution is flexible enough to simulate a two-way sync, but it’s a lot tougher to set up than a tool that’s built to sync data in two directions out of the box.
- True two-way sync: No matter how advanced your iPaaS setup, it won’t be a true two-way sync. That means it’ll have a ton of moving parts, and if any of them stop working right, you’ll break your workflow.
- Duplication and endless loop protection: When you use a sequence of automations to simulate a two-way sync, you’re creating potential corner cases that can have a devastating impact on your worfklow. A true two-way sync solution — like Unito — has built-in protections against this sort of thing.
Curious about how a two-way sync solution works? You can start a 14-day trial right now and get access to Unito’s 30+ integrations — no credit card required.
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