As all aspects of our lives go increasingly digital, there has never been a better time to tap into the power of technology. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s a good chance that a web-based tool or SaaS product can make your organization function more efficiently.
SaaS stands for software as a service. This cloud-based approach to software has replaced the days of walking into a brick-and-mortar electronics store to purchase software on a CD-ROM or floppy disk that is then installed locally on your computer (#TBT). Instead, SaaS is hosted on the web and accessible via any device. SaaS presents an endless variety of benefits—that’s a whole other blog post—and can often provide on-demand solutions for your most pressing organizational needs.
When designing and building a SaaS product, it’s our job to identify the building blocks that will offer the best solution for your unique needs. Through our strategic approach to new product development, we help distinguish whether you should a) invest in building particular components of your digital product from scratch or b) leverage an existing third-party tool that provides similar functionality. Third-party tools are web-based products that can be integrated with your digital product via an application programming interface (a.k.a. an API) that acts as a communication bridge between the two.
There are several reasons why you might choose to opt for a third-party tool over building certain functionality from scratch. In any product, there are pieces of functionality that are necessary but aren’t unique to your product. Similarly, in isolation, there is functionality that is not particularly valuable for your users but is required as a part of their overall experience. For example, you need your users to securely log in and out of your application (user authentication), but that feature is not what sets your application apart as a valuable tool for your users. In other words, it is not the “secret sauce.”
Third-party tools represent a cost-effective way to incorporate this functionality into your product without having to build it from scratch. This approach allows you to put more of your energy towards what makes your product uniquely valuable to users (i.e., the secret sauce).
These components are owned, operated, and maintained independently from your product and can be seamlessly integrated into your SaaS application to provide the desired functionality. Leveraging third-party tools also means that you don’t have to worry about the cost of maintaining this piece of your digital product.
As a technology partner, it’s our job to educate you on relevant third-party tools and decide what combination of third-party tools and custom development will be best for your product.
Let’s dive into some common third-party tools that we might recommend for your digital product.
Examples of Third-Party Tools
Twilio is what’s known as a cloud communications platform. Developers leverage Twilio’s APIs to build functionality in web or mobile applications that involve making or receiving phone calls and SMS messages. These days, users are accustomed to receiving SMS messages as a part of an app’s experience. One use of this is for the added security of Two-Factor Authentication. For example, if a user attempts to sign in from a new device, this action can trigger an SMS message with a six-digit code that the user receives on their mobile device. The user is then prompted to confirm their identity before successfully signing in. SMS messages can also be leveraged to engage a user outside of the app experience itself. For example, a user may receive a text message alerting them their order has been processed, has shipped, etc. Brands like Lyft, Airbnb, and Netflix leverage Twillio’s all-purpose communication APIs.
SendGrid is a similar cloud communications platform that provides APIs to build functionality involving sending automated emails from an application. Fun fact: Twilio actually acquired SendGrid a few years ago! This tool can send automatic transactional emails such as post-sign-up confirmation emails or reset password emails. Rather than investing in building an email program from scratch (which is a huge undertaking), you ensure high delivery rates, security, and more right out of the box by leveraging SendGrid.
Auth0 is an authentication and authorization platform with a wide range of capabilities. This tool allows developers to add secure and scalable sign-up, sign-in, and authentication to web and mobile applications. When dealing with user data and login information, we recognize that security is a top priority. Companies like BlueCross BlueShield, Headspace, Pfizer, Mazda, and Subaru leverage Auth0 to facilitate secure authentication processes across their products, so you can rest easy knowing that your users’ information is in good hands.
Stripe is a leading provider of products and APIs related to processing payments online. If you’ve used Instacart, Amazon, Slack, Google, Lyft, Peloton, Shopify, or Zoom, then you’ve processed a payment through Stripe. Our team is well-versed in Stripe’s extensive toolset and works with clients to define appropriate pricing, subscription options, billing cadence, and cancellation and refund policies for implementation via Stripe.
Cloudinary is a (you guessed it) cloud-based image and video management platform.
Many applications allow users or app administrators to upload, store, manage, manipulate, optimize, and deliver images and videos. We often leverage Cloudinary to manage this functionality within an application. A simple example in which Cloudinary comes in handy is for users uploading and manipulating an avatar for their user profile photo. Cloudinary helps ensure that an image will be standardized into the proper format for your app regardless of its shape or resolution. The number of customers who already use Cloudinary’s technology is literally too long to list! You can check them out here.
Designing Impactful Products
At Tyrannosaurus Tech, we have years of experience building solution-oriented, cloud-based software for our clients. We believe it’s our responsibility to educate clients on the various building blocks available to create the best solution for their organization. Our team is not programmed (see what we did there?) to churn out code without a purpose or spend unnecessary time and money building something that already exists. As your strategic partner, we are determined to gain a holistic understanding of your business goals and create the best product using the right building blocks that align with those goals. Typically, our clients are pleasantly surprised and excited to learn about these various integration options that can make the development process more efficient and cost-effective.
We believe that big-hearted technology isn’t extinct. We promise to keep your best interests in mind and act as a true partner that operates in good faith while demystifying the development process for you every step of the way.