Integration challenges are threatening digital transformation within Australia, according to a new study from MuleSoft.
MuleSoft's 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report found that IT teams globally are spending over a third of their time on integration projects, and 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 across industries, the researchers state.
The report from MuleSoft highlights top challenges and opportunities relating to digital transformation for Australian organisations.
Organisations under pressure to deliver digitisation
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, the report states.
This past year, organisations relied on IT to support a rapid shift to remote working and the need for increased productivity and efficiency.
Migrating apps to the cloud (50%), integrating SaaS apps (40%), and improving customer onboarding (40%) were cited as the key initiatives that organisations are focusing on for 2021.
They were closely followed by automating business processes, using IT to create a safe working environment, and introducing new products and services faster (each 35%).
Meanwhile, demands on IT have increased massively.
Organisations asked IT to deliver on average 33% more projects this year. Less than half (48%) of respondents say they were able to deliver all IT projects last year.
The report also found that organisations have to go digital or get left behind.
The survey shows 87% of organisations say a failure to complete digital transformation initiatives will impact revenues over the next year.
This mode of working is also expensive. According to the report, IT is spending over two-thirds of their time (71%) on running the business, leaving little time for innovation and development of new projects.
Integration cited as top challenge
Data silos remain a challenge for 94% of organisations (unchanged since last years 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, MuleSoft states.
Integration will continue to be a major area of focus as organisations look to connect and derive more value from their new and existing apps and data.
On average, organisations use 884 individual applications. However, only 29% of these applications are integrated, highlighting huge potential for organisations to drive change and deliver more connected experiences.
In addition, connected customer experiences remain a challenge to achieve, with only 20% of organisations integrate end-user experiences across all channels, with almost half (44%) stating they have found it difficult to do so.
However, for those organisations that have successfully integrated end user experiences, increased customer engagement (62%), business transformation (54%) and innovation (52%) have been the major benefits.
Business roles have the biggest integration needs. Outside of IT, sales (46%), customer support (42%), marketing (38%) and business analyst (38%) 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.
Recognising opportunities and empowering users
According to MuleSoft, organisations recognise the strategic importance of integration to help achieve revenue goals and deliver connected experiences faster.
To lessen the integration burden on IT and drive innovation and productivity, organisations are looking to drive reuse of existing integrations and empower the wider business to connect apps and data.
Integration and API strategy is being led from the top with the majority (80%) of organisations saying they have a top-down approach to integration and API strategy. This highlights the growing importance of integration to achieving business goals.
API reuse is a massive area of opportunity, MuleSoft finds.
While most organisations (96%) are using APIs to build integrations and 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 a massive area of opportunity as organisations leveraging APIs experience increased productivity (60%), increased speed in meeting business demands (48%) and increased innovation (46%), the report states.
On enabling all business users, the report finds that more than four in five organisations recognise the need to make data and integration accessible to business users to increase productivity, deliver connected experiences and drive innovation.
One-third (33%) of organisations say they have a mature approach to enabling non-IT users to easily integrate apps and data sources through APIs.
Another 50% say they are in the process of developing plans, further highlighting that organisations are looking to empower business users with integration.
MuleSoft CEO Brent Hayward says, "Organisations across industries have experienced a rapid shift toward interacting with customers and employees through digital channels.
"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 organisation to drive innovation at scale and gain competitive edge."