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Leveraging Integration to Bring People, Processes and Technologies Together to Achieve Digital Transformation

Every organization is currently undertaking digital transformation to build connected customer experiences, driving competitive advantage, loyalty, and growth. However, more than four out of five organizations note that integration challenges are slowing down the pace of their digital transformation. MuleSoft’s fifth annual Connectivity Benchmark Report sheds light on the opportunities for CIOs to implement new strategies that leverage people, processes and technology to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.

CIOs race to transform

The Connectivity Benchmark Report revealed that three out of four organizations expect a negative revenue impact if they don’t complete their digital transformation initiatives in the next 12 months. In addition, more than half of respondents say their IT budgets will increase by less than 10% while their project workloads are projected to skyrocket by 40%. To complete their transformation, CIOs need to look at new tools and strategies that can help close their delivery gap.

“Today’s increasing customer expectations and market disruptions are creating new challenges for CIOs across industries,” said Simon Parmett, CEO, MuleSoft. “The only way to navigate through customer demands, new technologies and industry disruption is to transform from a monolithic model to a composable enterprise. With a composable enterprise, organizations can easily leverage their capabilities and infrastructure with reusable APIs to easily and quickly bring new experiences and services to market.”

“The reality is that the majority of businesses today, across all industries, aren’t able to deliver truly connected experiences for their customers, partners, and employees,” said Lindsey Irvine, CMO, MuleSoft. “And that’s because delivering connected experiences requires a lot of data, which lives in an average of 900 different systems and applications across the enterprise. Integrating and unifying data across these systems is critical to create a single view of the customer and achieve true digital transformation. It’s also the number one reason digital transformation initiatives fail. As the amount of systems and applications continue to grow exponentially, teams realize that key to their success – and their organization’s success – is unlocking the data, wherever it exists, in a way that helps them deliver value faster.”

Technology: Creating integration building blocks with APIs

Luckily for CIOs, the Connectivity Benchmark Report shows compelling benefits for organizations that leverage APIs to solve their integration challenges. More than half of organizations said that IT has generated the most business value by building reusable integrations that save time and money on future projects. Despite this success, only 42% are leveraging APIs to increase the efficiency of their application development process. Organizations that do leverage APIs experience clear operational benefits including increased productivity (54%), increased innovation (47%) and greater cross-team agility for self-serve IT (46%).

Processes: Shifting IT’s role from maintenance towards a business enabler

Once organizations understand the value of APIs in unlocking data across the organization, they need to begin implementing clear processes that drive API use. While 80% of organizations are using public or private APIs, only 12% are mandated by leadership to abide by a company-wide API integration strategy for all projects. More than half implement APIs on a project-by-project basis or use a strategy that’s siloed within parts of the business.

“At Dreamforce this year, Eilen Rizzo, CIO of Ashley Stewart, joined us and offered great guidance for CIOs on the necessary organizational changes required to drive digital transformation. Two things really stood out: the first, if you don’t have an API-led strategy that drives towards re-use versus re-build, run, don’t walk. The second, an API-led strategy allows IT to be a strategic business partner, innovation steward and enabler, instead of bottleneck” said Irvine.

Rizzo shared, “I actually laid out an entire vision and roadmap illustrating how an API-led approach was going to make us more flexible, more agile, and allow us to move at the speed we needed to get things done for the business….The aha moment for [our leadership] was when I showed that data was continually being moved from system to system, adjusted in some shape or form, and then never being consolidated or aggregated to create a unified view. There was a lack of visibility, a lack of reporting, and multiple reports that were out of sync. It was clear we could do more with our data.”

People: Enabling the entire organization to innovate with reusable building blocks

While APIs and API strategies offer effective solutions for IT departments to connect applications, data and devices, they also need to consider the needs of new citizen integrators across the business. These non-technical, line of business users also need ways to easily reuse APIs to quickly introduce new experiences to customers. Outside of IT, the top three roles with integration needs include business analysts (40%), data scientists (38%), and customer support (38%). While 70% of respondents say they have a good strategy in place to enable these citizen integrators to easily integrate apps and data sources with APIs, 67% do not have a team dedicated to driving the sharing and reuse of APIs. Its unsurprising then that most organizations (80%) admit that they do not have an effective way of sharing APIs or integrations.

“When you build with an eye toward creating a composable enterprise – one in which IT can leverage composable business capabilities to build new processes and customer experiences – you’re able to identify and reuse your own assets or APIs across the organization. As a result, you have a much broader set of users who can engage with those capabilities and be empowered to innovate,” said Parmett. “Now lines of business across the organization can become orchestrators, consumers and composers of data and digital capabilities, leveraging those same APIs as building blocks. This dramatically shifts the role that IT plays within the organization into a business and innovation enabler.”

“Organizations have been heading in this direction for a while. Shadow IT was the first indicator that business users were going to attempt to solve their problems on their own if IT didn’t help them get access to the tools, and data, needed to solve for the business. On the other hand, IT saw these ‘citizen integrators’ as developing code IT can’t control, leading to more work on their plate and complexity for the organization,” said Irvine. “The reality is that by taking an API-led approach to connectivity, with a focus on re-use, IT is able to empower the entire organization to innovate at scale. It’s a whole lot easier for IT to secure, govern and manage standard APIs built for reuse than a bunch of custom code.

By unlocking data across systems with reusable APIs, IT begins to create a virtuous cycle of innovation where they are not only building integrations for the project at hand, but also enabling users across the organization to leverage those building blocks to compose new experiences in the future.”

Realizing the potential of digital transformation

While IT still has work to do to enable API reuse and line of business users across the organization, MuleSoft CEO Simon Parmett views digital transformation as a defining opportunity for CIOs to lead their businesses.

“The role of CIOs has shifted dramatically in the last two to three years as they’ve started driving digital transformation in earnest. This generation of CIOs needs to squarely focus on solving the integration problem that prevents their organization from achieving digital transformation,” said Parmett. “As they continue on their transformation journey, CIOs have the opportunity to realize career-defining growth as they unlock data and govern its movement in a way that increases speed, agility and innovation at scale. In effect, CIOs will earn the opportunity to become chief strategy and chief digital officers, uniquely positioned to drive technology and organization change. Leaders that can master the people, processes and technology of digital transformation, powered by data, will have a clear transition into CEO roles within their organization.”

For a full analysis on the Connectivity Benchmark Report, download the findings here.


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