Rings integration Image credit Pixabay/The DigitalArtistMulesoft (Salesforce) Research has published the 2023 Connectivity Report. The report looks at the state of digital transformation and the importance of integration within it. The findings were based on a survey conducted by Vanson Bourne across over 1,000 IT leaders from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.

The report itself is 54 pages long and consists of an executive summary with six main sections:

  • IT Delivers More as Leaders Invest in Efficiency
  • The Cost of Failing to Digitally Transform Is Higher Than Ever
  • Integration Challenges Remain as App Volume Surges
  • Customers Now Expect Connected Experiences
  • Teams Across the Business Demand Automation
  • APIs Help Maximize Cost Saving and Revenue

The report finishes with an appendix which shows sector and industry breakdowns.

Each section provides three key trends and then provides additional commentary with visualisations of data points. Despite its length there is little text in the report and no quotes from participants or thought leaders, to expand on the points.

Key findings

The survey data throws up some noteworthy findings.

  • 78% of IT Leaders expect budgets and headcount to increase over the next year
  • There are still barriers to digital transformation. The top three (all cited by 36%) are siloed apps and data, lack of skills, risk and compliance
  • Customers expect digital interactions, and 72% of them are getting them. However, 54% of organizations find it hard to integrate end-user experiences
  • Enterprises now have an average of 1,061 apps compared to 976 in 2022, further worsening the silo issue. Only 29% are integrated
  • Hyper Automation is key, and RPA adoption is increasing across the enterprise. 33% of organizations plan to invest in RPA, up from 13% two years ago
  • More than 50% of all business functions want autonomy from IT for process automation
  • Only 56% of organizations say they have a mature API strategy that enables non-technical business users to easily integrate apps/data sources
Matt McLarty, CTO, MuleSoft
Matt McLarty, CTO, MuleSoft

Matt McLarty, CTO, MuleSoft, commented, “We’ve seen significant investment and dedication from businesses looking to digitally transform. Even amid uncertain economic conditions, digital transformation efforts are well underway, and even speeding up in some cases. However, integration efforts are lagging, and businesses cannot realize the full value of their data and application portfolios. Integration tools and automation will help close that gap, enabling the productivity, efficiency, and innovation that will allow businesses to create success now and in the future.”

Unanswered questions

While the report has some interesting findings, it also raises more questions around the detail, that the survey has not answered. IT Leaders indicate that staff costs are likely to increase in 2023. However, with a recession looming, is that likely? While organisations are to invest in technology, will CFOs want to increase budgets to do so, or will they demand cuts? Salesforce and other major technology firms have announced job cuts recently.

While the number of applications has increased within organisations, how many of these are used actively? Are there grounds for a cull of applications, rather than investment into connecting everything? While APIs and hyperautomation are definitely the direction that most seem to be heading, there are other factors at play here.

Of perhaps greater concern and where the authors have not added much critical analysis is where APIs drive value. The most cited business benefit for APIs was greater agility across teams to self-serve IT. There is no indication of how successful these self-serve initiatives are. What is their long-term success, and does this mean that IT is decentralised. There is no investigation into this.

Furthermore, there does not seem to be a question around prioritisation. The authors note that “Organizations that fail to prioritize integration miss out on cost-savings, growth, and efficiency opportunities.” However, how are organisations prioritising integrations in 2023, has this changed from the previous year, from the midst of COVID to time now with a fear of a recession.

The most important section to read

While the executive summary is inciteful, the real nuggets of truth in this report lie in the Appendix where there is a breakdown of response by Industry and country. Of these, the US, with 250 responses, has the biggest sample, but the other countries all had 100 responses. The industry response numbers were more varied, with Healthcare (220) the highest and Construction and Property (22) and Business and Professional services (19).

There are some interesting differences between the industries, and business leaders should refer to these more pertinent statistics than the ones in the actual report. For example, data silos affect industries differently.

  • Financial Services – 88%
  • Communications, Media and Technology – 89%
  • Manufacturing and Production – 89%
  • Healthcare and Life sciences – 90%
  • Public Sector/Government – 93%
  • Retail and CPG – 93%
  • Energy, Oil & Gas, and Utilities – 94%

The differences in the percentage of successfully delivered projects vary immensely by country. Though unfortunately, the report does not dive into why this is the case.

  • The UK – 29%
  • France – 36%
  • Germany -36%
  • Australia 39%
  • Netherlands – 52%
  • Singapore 55%
  • The US – 56%
  • Hong Kong – 63%

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

This report has some fascinating statistics within it, especially when looking at the details of country and industry. However, the smaller sample does make the numbers more suspect. The report lacks depth and analysis, but despite its length can be read quickly. What is also useful are the information about how trends have changed over the last year, although the authors could have added a period that extended before COVID.

The trends highlighted included:

  • Average percentage of revenue generated from API projects: 2022 – 35%, 2021 -38%
  • Percentage of organizations that provide a completely connected user experience across all channels: 2023 – 36%, 2022 – 30%, 2021 -18%
  • Estimated IT time spent designing, building, and testing custom integrations: 2022 – 40.31%, 2021 -38.46%

With MuleSoft advocating Salesforce Flow and MuleSoft RPA for organisations to hyper automate their technology stack. The MuleSoft Anypoint platform that powers Salesforce Genie Customer Data Cloud, the inference is MuleSoft has an answer to the common challenges organisations face.

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