MuleSoft has released a study detailing three big challenges facing IT executives in the year ahead.

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As part of a survey of over 1,000 CIOs and IT decision-makers, MuleSoft has found a number of challenges and opportunities faced by organizations as they attempt to create and automate a seamless digital experience.

The survey brings up a number of concerns for CIOs and IT executives, namely the issues faced with integration and API strategy, failed digital transformations and the monetary setbacks those have caused to enterprises, and the difficulties of creating connected user experiences.

Digital transformation initiatives

According to the study, organizations could lose $7 million on average if the company fails to reach its digital transformation initiatives. MuleSoft found that on average 72% of customer interactions are now digital. With these interactions now being so heavily skewed towards the digital side, organizations also now have an average of 976 discrete applications, but only 28% of these applications are integrated. The growing number of applications coupled with the issues in integration has caused businesses to spend over $3.6 million on average just on custom integration labor, causing a drain on time and budgets.

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As integration has become a large point of contention, the speed at which projects are completed is critical. The study details that 93% of those surveyed say that project completion times are definitely faster than they were five years ago. Integration is the key to speeding these digital transformations up even more, as 38% of IT decision-makers and CIOs responded that integration was the biggest challenge slowing or hindering their organization. Of the respondents, 88% said these integration issues continue to slow their digital transformation initiatives, nearly the same amount as the 2021 figure of 87%.

Custom integration has also become a sticking point for revenue, as the 2022 report details that nearly $9.5 million on average has been spent on IT staff within the last 12 months to integrate apps and data from across the enterprise. By focusing more on the wrong areas, these companies are increasing their technical debt. Application programming interface (API) led connectivity could be a solution to some of these problems in integration.

APIs and robotic process automation

MuleSoft found that APIs provide enterprises with genuine value when it comes to leveraging these systems. Organizations responded that using APIs has enabled them to increase productivity (52% of respondents), drive agility via self-serve IT (52%), enhance innovation (45%), increased speeds in meeting demands (42%) and increased employee engagement and collaboration (44%). Of the enterprises leveraging APIs, 40% said they have seen revenue growth as a direct result of utilizing these systems, an increase of 12% from 2021. On average, 35% of organizations’ revenue was driven by technology and API-related implementations.

Automation was another key ingredient in working through tasks quickly and efficiently. Nearly one-third of organizations plan to invest in robotic process automation (RPA), over double the amount from a year ago (13%). Most are managing and tracking this process through IT; 72% of IT developers and 66% of IT operations department workers responded that they are the most involved in automating business procedures and tasks. The combination of automation, integration and API management will prove fruitful for enterprises looking to cater to the wants of their employees and customers moving forward.

Volume of IT projects

As IT budgets continue to rise, so do the demands placed on these departments. Of the respondents, 85% said their organization’s IT budget has increased over the past year, but by the same token, the number of projects IT is entrusted with has jumped by 40%. Due to this increase in the amount of projects needing to be addressed, many IT executives have found their departments struggling with running their businesses, rather than focusing on development or innovation of new processes.

As a side effect of the jump in volume of IT projects, those surveyed said 52% of projects were not delivered on time this year. This increase in the number of projects reflects the growing importance of being strategic with digital transformation and IT during the pandemic. One big challenge faced by IT departments is how much time is spent simply running the business from a day-to-day perspective. IT spends on average 71% of its daily budget running the business, leaving less than a third of its time for innovation and development.

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One big roadblock seen by IT departments is existing infrastructure and the effects it has on the efficiency of work. A large majority (70%) of IT workers said they find it hard to introduce new technologies because of the enterprise’s IT infrastructure. Over three-quarters of those same workers said their IT infrastructure systems were overly dependent on one another, making it difficult to introduce new facets without affecting the legacy systems.

Suggestions made by MuleSoft to address these concerns came in the form of empowering business users by encouraging API reuse, handing low and no-code tools to business technologists and addressing security and governance issues. If companies do this, it may see fewer pain points when it comes to the loss of revenue and the time it takes to complete tasks and innovate new processes.