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We’re living in the age of customer experience, and digital native consumers expect nothing but the best from their chosen brands. As a result, the pace of digitalization has increased sharply across all industries. Amid this pressure to create incredible customer experiences, IT and business teams must collaborate to bring these experiences to life.

To understand how different industries are faring when it comes to IT-business alignment, MuleSoft recently surveyed 2,400 senior IT and business leaders globally. The findings show that alignment has, in fact, improved across the board in the last 12 months – 87% of respondents believe that IT and business teams are seeing eye-to-eye. In the high tech, communications, media and telecommunications (CMT) sector, the sentiment was even higher, at 92%.

However, the research also revealed that challenges remain. Security, data silos, and integration barriers all persist as major problems that hinder the success of digital initiatives. 

Four digital challenges across industries 

1. Legacy IT continues to hold back business agility

Business agility was ranked as a key competitive advantage even before the pandemic, but its importance has only increased – jumping by 10% on average. Looking at industries, the importance of business agility has risen 12% for healthcare and life sciences and CMT organizations, and 11% for those in the public sector. 

However, many organizations are struggling with legacy IT, which threatens their ability to become more agile: 94% of public sector organizations say they have found it challenging to modernize legacy IT without disrupting mission-critical processes. Elsewhere, approaching half (44%) of healthcare organizations cited legacy IT systems as one of the major challenges to sharing clinical data effectively. 

2. Enabling automation and accessibility to innovation 

The research also highlights that integration remains a challenge across the board, as organizations continue to digitally transform and adopt new technologies. For example, 90% of financial services organizations say that increased consumer demand for digital and mobile services has put pressure on their organization’s development and integration capabilities.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of organizations also say that automation initiatives are being hampered by integration challenges. This comes at a time when the vast majority of organizations across all sectors are looking towards automation as a means to improve connected customer experiences, operational efficiency, and more. Automation can also be harnessed to enable the rise of business technologists – employees outside of the IT department – who can work alongside developers using low or no-code tools, reusable technology components, and self-serve capabilities to drive their own automation initiatives and deliver wider value for the business. 

Addressing integration concerns will be pivotal in enabling organizations to achieve their priorities over the next 12 months. More than three-quarters (76%) of retailers, for instance, want to improve operational resilience with real-time visibility into supply chain data, and 64% of manufacturers want to transform employee safety and productivity. 

3. Navigating IT security concerns 

For many, the increasing number of systems, applications, and data sources that need to be connected has raised concerns around security and governance. Nearly three quarters (72%) of healthcare and life sciences organizations have concerns in this area, along with 71% of retailers, and 69% of those in the public sector. Adding to this, 87% of respondents said that concerns around security and governance are also slowing the pace of innovation.

To counter these concerns, implementing  a central foundation of governance in one unified platform will be key. This provides a sustainable, scalable approach as IT looks to centrally establish, apply, and enforce its policies and best practices through a “single pane of glass.” 

4. Enabling teams beyond central IT 

The mounting pressures around digital innovation and digitalization are expected to long outlast the pandemic, meaning organizations must empower business users to create connected experiences of their own to ease the innovation burden on IT. 

An overwhelming majority of organizations agree that business outcomes would improve if their workforce was able to use low or no-code to securely connect apps and data to create connected experiences on their own. For instance, 88% of both retail and CMT organizations agree with this, as well as 85% of financial services organizations. 

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Understanding what’s in store in our digital-first world 

Innovation and rapid digital growth will be hallmarks of the near future. As economies continue to adapt, organizations that make the shift to becoming a composable enterprise to empower anyone in the business to connect data and applications stand the best chance of success.

To find out more about the state of IT and business alignment, download our new  IT and Business Alignment Barometer report.