Last year, we catalogued the number of integrations at the 1000 fastest growing SaaS companies. The median number of integrations at those companies was 15. But what about integrations at the largest SaaS companies?
We took a look at the 15 largest SaaS companies (as identfied by SaaStr here) to see how many integrations and extensions they had. (All numbers were gathered from the company's public integration marketplaces.)
The median number of integrations and extensions at the largest SaaS companies is 347.
Even though this is a small sample size, it is clear that, in SaaS, offering interoperability is key to reaching the top of the market.
We also took a look at how the companies marketed themselves to assess how big of a role interoperability played in their publicly stated value proposition. All the companies mentioned it to some degree as part of their value. Unsurprisingly, a greater emphasis on interoperability correlated with a greater number of integrations and extensions.
In addition, we assessed how much this value proposition was stated as the company's product being the place for the user to work versus controlling the company's product from within integrated products.
All of these companies have data that is accessed by the user from their product(s) and from the products that they are integrated with.
Salesforce, for example, is marketed and used by sales people as their primary interface for their work. Most of their integrations are primarily marketed as being controlled from within Salesforce.
However, they also send data into many other systems, from other CRMs, marketing automation platforms, databases, to collaboration software, where users of those systems may rarely go into Salesforce.
Others require toggling back and forth. Their integrations with Slack, for example, entails the user working in Slack - being notified of new Salesforce records and being able to pull them up in Slack - and also working in Salesforce - being able to see relevant Slack messages in a Salesforce record.
Most of the largest 15 SaaS companies are marketed to be, on balance, one of their user's primary places of work and thus as controlling other systems from within their UI.
Some, however, like Zoom and RingCentral, also stress that users can use their app from within other apps they are working in. Both Zoom and RingCentral, for example, enable users to start video meetings or calls from within a CRM, without having to leave the CRM, and from within work collaboration apps, like Slack and Teams.
We also assessed the state of the largest 15 SaaS companies' public integration marketplaces in terms of design and functionality.
The sophistication of the marketplace was correlated with the number of apps, though this is not a linear connection.
There are only a handful of marketplaces that have significantly more advanced functionality (like partner lead sharing and on-page user analytics) and, other than those marketplaces, there is a remarkable consistency in the design and user experience across marketplaces, whether a company has 50 or 500 integrations. And, despite advanced functionality, some of the larger marketplaces have an outdated or clunky design.
And what about the broader tech market?
Infrastructure as a service products like AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure have integration marketplaces with thousands of apps. B2B products from Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all heavily integrated with other products.
But not all large tech companies have hundreds or thousands of user-facing integrations. One significant factor is that B2C tech products generally need fewer integrations than B2B tech products.
Large tech companies like Airbnb and Netflix do have integrations, but they are far fewer and, from the consumer experience side, play a smaller role.
Airbnb, for example, has some level of integration for its hosts who are running multiple listings and for its Airbnb for Work users, but it does not push integrations for the consumer side. Consumer integrations are largely limited to social sharing and payment.
Netflix does not sell to businesses, and has similarly few integrations for customers. These integrations exist primarily around enabling consumers to watch Netflix on other devices and apps, such as Apple TV or a Samsung phone. Scener, for example, has built an integration to Netflix so that it can be streamed from within Scener, which allows for groups of subscribers to watch Netflix in sync.
For many consumers, the biggest integrations they actively use are single sign on, payment and tax-related integrations, and integrations that enable social sharing and posting. Tech companies that are working outside those domains and are consumer focused will have fewer integrations.
It is yet to be seen whether consumer apps will follow business apps in becoming more and more interoperable out of the box.
The 15 largest SaaS companies have a median of 347 integrations. This compares to a median of 15 at the 1000 fastest growing SaaS companies, which, on average, are much smaller and in an earlier stage of growth.
For B2B SaaS companies who wish to break into the upper tier, providing interoperability and an app marketplace to customers is now an essential requirement.