(Image credit/Pixabay/Gerd Altmann)MuleSoft has reported that integration challenges continue to be a major roadblock for digital transformation initiatives. MuleSoft’s 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report found that IT teams are spending over a third of their time on integration projects. Custom integrations are costing large enterprises on average $3.5 million each in annual labor. As digital initiatives accelerate, integration has emerged as a critical factor in determining the success and speed of digital transformation.

(Image credit/LinkedIn/Brent Hayward)
Brent Hayward, CEO, MuleSoft

Organisations across industries experienced a shift toward interacting with customers and employees through digital channels,” said Brent Hayward, CEO, MuleSoft. “Although most organisations are prioritising digital initiatives, such as launching an eCommerce platform or increasing worker productivity. The research shows that data silos continue to hinder their capabilities to deliver on these key initiatives. Companies that empower their IT and business teams to easily integrate apps and data will be able to unlock the full capacity within their organization to drive innovation at scale and gain competitive edge.”

Based on a global survey of 800 CIOs and IT decision makers, the 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report also highlights new challenges and opportunities for businesses as they navigate a digital-first world:

Increased demands adding pressure to businesses

The last 12 months have seen a profound shift in the way people work and how organisations operate. Employees and customers alike want seamless digital experiences and expect organisations to deliver on these experiences, faster.

  • New initiatives to enable success from anywhere: This past year, organisations relied on IT to support remote working and the need for increased productivity and efficiency. Migrating apps to the cloud (51%). Enabling remote working (48%) and automating business processes (47%) were cited as key initiatives organisations are focusing on for 2021. They were closely followed by using IT to create a safe working environment. Modernising legacy systems, and integrating SaaS apps were also mentioned (each 45%).
  • When demand surpasses supply: Demands on IT have increased massively. Organisations asked IT to deliver on average 30% more projects this year. A number that is constantly growing year-over-year (315 projects in 2021 compared to 242 projects in 2020). Only 37% of respondents say they delivered all IT projects last year (compared to 41% the previous year).
  • Go digital or get left behind: More than three-quarters (77%) of organisations say failure to complete digital transformation initiatives will impact revenues over the next year.
  • The cost of “keeping the lights on”: IT is spending over two-thirds of their time (68%) on running the business. This leaves little time for innovation and development of new projects.

Integration challenges hold businesses back

Data silos remain a challenge for 90% of organisations (unchanged since last year’s report). And almost 9 in 10 respondents point to integration challenges as a blocker to delivering on digital transformation. If this trend continues, it risks stalling key business initiatives for many organisations. Integration will continue to be a major area of focus. Organisations increasingly look to connect and derive more value from their new and existing apps and data.

  • So many applications, so little integration: On average, organisations use 843 individual applications. However, only 29% of these applications are integrated (a slight increase from 28% in the previous year). This highlights huge potential for organisations to drive change and deliver more connected experiences.
  • Connected customer experiences remain a challenge to achieve: 18% of organisations integrate end-user experiences across all channels, with (48%) stating they have found it difficult to do so. However, for those organisations that have successfully integrated end-user experiences listed a number of benefits. This includes, increased customer engagement (53%), business transformation (53%) and innovation (50%).
  • Data-related roles have the biggest integration needs: Outside of IT, data science (47%), business analyst (42%) and finance (42%) are the roles with the biggest integration needs. This further highlights how business users and initiatives with a data focus are prime candidates for integration support.

Empowering enterprise-wide innovation

Organisations recognise the strategic importance of integration to help achieve revenue goals and deliver connected experiences faster. To lessen integration burden on IT and drive innovation and productivity, organisations are looking to drive reuse of existing integrations. They are also looking to empower the wider business to connect apps and data.

  • Integration and API strategy is being led from the top: More than two-thirds (69%) of organisations say they have a top-down approach to integration and API strategy. This is an increase from 63% last year, highlighting the growing importance of integration to achieving business goals.
  • API reuse is a massive area of opportunity: While most organisations (96%, up from 80% last year) are using APIs to build integrations. They are also using it to deliver new projects, best practices around API reuse remain an area of improvement. The reuse of code, APIs, and best practice templates has plateaued over the last two years. Organisations have on average 42% of such internal assets and components available for reuse. This is an area of opportunity as organisations leveraging APIs experience increased productivity (59%), self-service (48%) and increased innovation (46%).
  • Enabling all business users: Four in five organisations recognise the need to make data and integration accessible to business users. This is with the ambition to increase productivity, deliver connected experiences and drive innovation. 36% of organisations say they have a mature approach to enabling non-IT users to integrate apps and data through APIs. Another 44% say they are in the process of developing plans. This further highlights that organisations are looking to empower business users with integration.

Enterprise Times: What this means for business?

Last year saw a rapid acceleration toward a more digital world. Everything has changed. The ability for enterprises to be able to pivot quickly has separated winners and losers. Businesses, irrespective of size or sector, must be able to adapt to changing customer demands and deliver innovation with unprecedented speed. This isn’t simple. To do this, you need to do more than just unlock data and connect your applications. The traditional way of operating does not work anymore. As Amit Chaudhary, Principal National Offering Leader Cloud Engineering at Deloitte Consulting suggests. “Leading organisations of the future will be organized around reusability and collaboration, while being architected for real-time adaptability to deliver innovation at the speed of change.”


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