Introduction

If you’re not a technical person but you’re looking to synchronize your data from multiple specialized cloud applications (your CRM, help desk, financial system etc .) and access all your data from across those applications, you’ll need an easy to use software that integrates with all of your applications.

The most famous vendor that addresses this problem is probably Zapier. Some other noteworthy softwares address these problems with various approaches: some have a different user experience than Zapier, some are just cheaper, others aim at more complex use cases.

This article looks only to compare Parabola.io and Zapier in terms of pricing, integrations, use cases and UX to help you choose which software is right for you.  The chart below highlights a few of these features and more that we think critical. If neither Zapier or Parabola have all the features you need or do not focus on the most important, check out actiondesk’s full analysis of the 9 best alternatives to Zapier here.

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Parabola

29 integrations and counting

Parabola distinguishes sources (apps you can pull data from) and destinations (apps you can push data to). They have 29 sources (including MySQL and PostgreSQL) and 10 destinations, plus a few custom destinations (ie., those not attached to a specific app) such as API export, CSV export, email and PDF export. You can expect Parabola to add many more sources and destinations in the future.

Wide catalogue of operations

Parabola really distinguishes themselves with a wide variety of operations you can perform on your data. A few interesting ones are:

  • Join: few data integration tools enable you to fully combine data from various sources
  • Aggregation of data (or group by)
  • Sentiment analysis (using Google Machine Learning API)
  • Remove duplicates
  • Add a column to your data

You can see the full list here.

Neat Drag and drop interface with a bit of a learning curve

Parabola is pretty straightforward to use, even though you do need to spend more time to understand how it works than you do with Zapier. They have an intuitive drag and drop interface. One very nice thing is that you can actually see the data you are manipulating and see immediately the result of the operations you perform on your data. You will need to spend a bit of time to understand what each operation does (for example, the difference between pivot and group by is not super clear to me).

Use cases

Parabola is a powerful and flexible tool, and as such can be used for widely different use cases. One interesting use case they mention on their website is sending email interaction data from Mailchimp to Salesforce. Of course, it could be another email automation tool and another CRM.

Thanks to Parabola, you can import email interaction data from Mailchimp, manipulate your data to get the date of the last opened email of your prospect and then feed that data to Salesforce.

This data can be very useful for the sales representative the next time they call that prospect.

Pricing on the higher end of this benchmark

Parabola doesn’t have the usual plan system. You will pay a certain price per flow. This price will depend on the maximum number of rows you will need in each workflow and how frequently you want your workflows to execute. For example, if you need 10,000 rows (the minimum), and want to execute your flows every 10 minutes, you will pay $58 per flow. For 10,000 rows and daily execution, it will be $18 per flow.

Parabola has a pricing page that will tell you your per flow cost depending on your needs.

More powerful use cases than Zapier

Thanks to its capacity to manipulate and retreat data, to use past data, and to customize triggering events, Parabola can address use cases (like the one above) that Zapier could not handle.

However, their catalogue of apps is still quite small.

 

Zapier

More than 1,000 integrations!

Zapier supports more than 1,000 apps. They support both MySQL and PostgreSQL and for both have the following triggers and actions:

  • Triggers
    • New row
    • Updated row
    • New row (custom query). This means you can write a custom sql query and every time this queries returns more rows, it will trigger your workflow
    • New column
    • New table
  • Actions
    • Update row
    • New row

Zapier adds more and more useful options to transform data

Via the search function, Zapier enables you to take one trigger and combine the data coming from that trigger with another app.

For example, if one of your existing customers fills in a Typeform or Google form, then you can look them up in your CRM and update whatever new data she gave you. If the lookup doesn’t find anyone, it means this customer doesn’t exist yet in your CRM in which case you can create the record.

One caveat to this: Zapier doesn’t allow you to combine data using any field. If I take Hubspot CRM as an example, if you want to combine some records in a Google Sheet to your companies in Hubspot, you will have to join the data using the name of the company. If you don’t have the name and wanted to pair using another field (address, ID, etc.), that won’t be possible.

To summarize this point, Zapier does enable you to combine data but not in such a flexible way as other apps (Parabola, actiondesk).

Before very recently and the introduction of Paths, you couldn’t have an if / else logic in one workflow. You’d have to build as many workflows as the number of conditions you’d have.

Zapier also enables some simple formatting of data (number, dates) or retreating (append, pick from list, etc).

Zapier doesn’t allow you to use past data, your workflows will only trigger for new events. For example, if you trigger a workflow with a new contact (for example, to feed a Google Sheet), you won’t be able to trigger that workflow for all the contacts that were created before you set up your workflow.

Finally, Zapier doesn’t enable the user to customize the triggering event, it has to be one event in their catalogue.

An easy user experience

In my opinion, the user experience is a big part of Zapier’s success. It’s very simple to create a basic workflow, and you don’t have to have any skills. Zapier’s interface has definitely inspired many of its competitors.

It’s a sequence of simple forms to fill in. Each step is quite fast, so you really feel you’re making progress.

For simple “if this then that” use cases, Zapier has the best UX. When it comes to more advanced options, such as search or data transformation, I do find the UX a bit less intuitive, and it will take you a bit of time before you understand what to do.

Pricing

With Zapier, you can run 5 workflows (what they call zaps) for free. Then they have the following 4 plans:

  • $25 for 20 workflows
  • $62 for 50 workflows
  • $156 for 125 workflows
  • $312 for unlimited workflows

For simple workflows, I think Zapier is the best solution. When potential prospects ask me about simple workflows, I usually recommend that they use Zapier. If you feel you’re limited with Zapier and you’d like to do more, I would highly recommend checking out the other solutions presented here!