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Nearly all (92%) of businesses are currently undertaking digital transformation initiatives or plan to in the next year, but many challenges come with this type of change, including integration. Salesforce recently did an interview with MuleSoft CTO, Uri Sarid, and Salesforce EVP of Solution Engineering for APAC and International, Dan Bognar about those challenges and potential solutions. In part one of this series, they discuss the technological angle of data and integration, and in the second they focus on the people and change management needed to make successful integration possible. 

Here are the five key takeaways from those conversations:

#1: The problem starts with tech stack complexity and data silos. 

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Our 2020 Connectivity Benchmark Report revealed that companies have more than 900 enterprise applications, yet only 28% of those are integrated. Sarid and Bognar say that this is where the problem of data integration begins. The number of systems increases complexity and prevents many organizations from making the best use of their data and systems because they are not being properly integrated.

“Nobody wishes they had less data or capabilities, but a lot of people don’t know what to do with all that richness, are concerned about the data quality or the security of the capabilities, and don’t know how to manage them. They might have 12 different systems in the business, but they have no structural way to make sense of the tangled web of data and capability.” 

– MuleSoft CTO, Uri Sarid

#2: Those who don’t solve this problem for their organization risk falling behind the competition. 

The market rewards fast movers and innovators — we see this in companies like Uber and Airbnb that are disrupting entire industries. Sarid says that companies that don’t leverage an integration solution to solve their data silo problems risk being outcompeted and are creating more challenges for themselves down the road. 

“If the current data complexity within businesses is not solved, the business is already at a competitive disadvantage, and life is only going to get more difficult for those businesses as they grow.”

– MuleSoft CTO, Uri Sarid

#3: Functional and technical owners need to band together.

The business and technical sides of an organization don’t always speak the same language. Sarid explains that often line of business teams collect tons of data and hand that data off to IT to make sense of it all. The functional and technical teams need to come together under a common goal to solve the integration issues across the organization. 

“It’s the role of people who understand software and technology to be deeply partnered with the functional owners of different parts of the business.”

– MuleSoft CTO, Uri Sarid

#4: Reduce complexity with reusable APIs.

Sarid and Bognar say that the solution to this steep integration problem is putting well-defined APIs in place to expose the data from enterprise systems, which is what MuleSoft calls API-led connectivity. So first, enable each of your systems with an API to expose the data, treat these APIs as products, then use them to integrate the various systems within the organization. These APIs can be reused to drive connectivity for future integration needs and drive innovation with an application network

Don’t wait until everything is wrapped in APIs – create APIs only where there’s clear near-term value, or where there’s clear strategic value to expose data and capabilities. In this way, you naturally and sustainably create application networks, rather than applications that stand alone.”

– MuleSoft CTO, Uri Sarid

#5: Fixing the integration issue will improve the customer experience.

Customers can get frustrated that organizations don’t have all of their data, as they often have to repeat much of the same information over and over again. The data exists within the organization but is buried in disparate legacy systems, creating a disjointed experience. API-led connectivity can create this single customer view and improve the customer experience.

“Consumers are unaware – as they should be! – of the integration challenges being faced by businesses. They are instead concerned with why experiences are so disconnected, as well as about the volumes of data that are being collected about them, what is being done with that data, and whether it is being kept private.”

– MuleSoft CTO, Uri Sarid

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