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To understand the value of community and evangelism to your organization, it’s important to imagine one without it.

You set out with excited anticipation for day one of a new job. Upon arrival, excitement slowly gives way to disappointment as you’re shown your work area: a single solitary silo arranged amongst countless others. Over time, devoid of all energy and color, loudspeaker overhead bellowing tasks, it becomes increasingly isolating, stifling; it’s seemingly able to drain more from you today than the day before. You hear bits and pieces from other silos offering a vague idea of what’s going on and how, but not enough to make a difference in your day nor yours theirs.

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This scenario is a reality for many organizations that lack community. In many such cases, communication is focused on the hierarchy (up and down communication) and not the network (up and down as well as side-to-side communication). Sharing and collaboration beyond a silo is incidental — if it happens at all. Among developers, this kind of culture fosters undisciplined and ungoverned development resulting in solution redundancies, overlaps, inefficient designs, depressed morale, ever-increasing maintenance costs, growing fragile ecosystems, plurality of like platforms and systems, and erosion of market share. This costs organizations between $450 and $550 billion annually. Put simply? This culture puts you at risk of being rendered irrelevant in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Integration best practices: the value of a strong developer community

Organizations that invest in community and evangelism often attract and keep the best talent. Companies that make developing a vibrant community a top priority have been reported to see 202% gains in productivity. Breaking down silos within an organization enables increased productivity, greater agility, and a culture of inventiveness and innovation. The beauty of this is that the talent necessary likely already exists in your organization in large part. Enable and connect that talent, learn once and share everywhere, yell at the mountaintops about your successes.

Digital transformation pioneers engage top talent to foster innovation

For many traditional enterprises, digital transformation requires a drastic shift in both mindset and behavior – from one that shies away from change to one that embraces risk. However, digital transformation pioneers have proven that doing so is critical to attract and retain top-performing talent. Successful digital businesses like Apple have created a vibrant internal and external developer community that fosters creativity and has become one of the most sought-after technical hubs for top talent.

When an organization builds a community that truly rallies behind their application network they benefit from increased productivity, lower rates of project failure, and the sharing of ideas that lead to new innovations. Organizations can facilitate this exchange by engaging the community in activities like workshops and hackathons.

Additionally, as organizations mature in their digital transformation journeys, the onramp to application network becomes completely automated. Training plans and content, such as API reference, articles, and sample code, which traditionally required manual updates, are automatically updated with refreshed assets that are regularly contributed by community members. When frequent and compelling communications, including developer programs and forums, are built into the culture it drives ubiquitous awareness of the success of the platform.

How to enable integration best practices in your organization

For many enterprises, the journey to digital transformation is hazy. In today’s digital world, the sheer number of options and speed of change is overwhelming — which is why it is so easy for businesses to veer off course or hit roadblocks along the way. The steps below help enterprises take the lead on technology-enabled business transformation and focus on delivering emerging technologies that support business strategy.

Step 1: Establish a baseline of your digital transformation maturity

The first step in the digital transformation journey is to assess the digital maturity of your application network and integration capabilities. Establishing a baseline will allow you to understand critical areas of opportunity and provide a benchmark to measure success along the way. The digital transformation blueprint lays out the assessment process, which can be repeated as necessary to track improvements and clarify traceable correlations in business and technology results.

Step 2: Develop and execute a program

Multifaceted capability development inside of an enterprise that is focused on business outcomes requires perseverance and strategic insight. Initiative and program planning processes are often based on a “fit for purpose” model where teams and leaders are recognized and rewarded for meeting specific delivery goals that center around dates, scope, and quality. Without a new structure or mechanism that aligns short-term delivery with long-term capability improvements, teams often follow plans that ritualistically build new silos or contribute to those that already exist. Transformational initiatives require a program that embraces new models and rituals designed to help autonomous teams adapt to new expectations on delivering software designed for reuse.

Step 3: Get the incentives right

Existing corporate reward systems often incentivize behaviors that align with the status quo. Creating opportunities to recognize and reward individuals, leaders, and teams is often necessary to help employees and managers understand that the enterprise values efforts that put enterprise goals ahead of individual goals. Once organizations put the right incentive structure in place to reward actions that contribute to transformation, such as API-led integration and reuse, the people, process, and technology will fall into place. Skewing towards a multifaceted approach with varying techniques — such as attachment to compensation incentives, formalized socialization, and compelling communications that target key audiences — will gain top down executive support and bottoms up commitment.

6 integration best practices for digital transformation

Though there is no one-size-fits-all path to digital transformation, there is a set of standard characteristics that effectively all sophisticated enterprises share and common relationships among those characteristics. With MuleSoft’s digital transformation blueprint, an enterprise can easily assess its digital competitiveness and identify the path forward. The digital transformation blueprint encompasses six key elements: strategy, organization and governance, software development life cycle (SDLC), discoverability and self-service, operations, and community and evangelism. It has been instrumental in helping our most successful customers establish and advance their application network maturity and integration capabilities.

Access the blueprint with integration best practices for your organizations in the Hands-on guide to digital transformation whitepaper.