In today’s digital economy, staying competitive requires integrating cloud applications and automating processes to improve customer experience and productivity. In fact, having this kind of agility can make the difference between excelling or merely maintaining the status quo.
But don’t take our word for it. Gatepoint Research recently conducted a survey of executives across multiple industries on application integration and business process challenges and strategies.1 Let’s review some key findings.
The Results Are In: Application Integration and Process Automation Matter
Application integration and process automation go hand-in-hand: Application integration allows different software systems to communicate and exchange data seamlessly, while process automation streamlines business processes by automating tasks and workflows. When combined, organizations can achieve a higher level of efficiency and accuracy in their operations — non-negotiables to maintain a competitive foothold.
With that in mind, it makes sense that the Gatepoint survey results indicate:
- 41% of respondents believe manual and redundant tasks plague their organizations
- 32% of executives are concerned about the impact on the customer experience caused by their disconnected processes
- 49% of organizations are focused on automating their critical business processes in the next 18 months
And while most advanced organizations are investing in cloud applications, they may also have existing investments in on-premises applications. Connecting all these applications — and the data sources spread across on-premises and multi-cloud environments — is critical to automate and orchestrate business processes.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the data to learn about the challenges — and strategies — to help improve productivity and boost agility with application integration and process automation capabilities.
Top Ways to Overcome Application Integration and Process Automation Challenges
Below are five challenges uncovered in the survey and recommended strategies that can help uplevel your automation and integration efforts.
1. Challenge: Managing the application programming interface (API) lifecycle. According to the Gatepoint survey, 40% of organizations are leveraging APIs to meet their application, data and business process challenges. That makes sense since APIs automate and integrate various business processes, such as data processing, payment processing, customer service and marketing automation. But given that the average organization today has over 15,000 APIs in place,2 being able to manage them successfully can be a challenge. Case in point: The Gatepoint survey indicated that 31% of organizations need a way to manage the full lifecycle of their growing volume of APIs.
Strategy: APIs have become commonplace, and with so many different personas throughout the API lifecycle (architects, business technologists, developers, consumers, producers, designers, citizen integrators, etc.), the need for end-to-end API lifecycle management is critical. API lifecycle management capabilities can help organizations manage APIs — from creation to retirement — across multiple clouds and on-premises systems within and outside their firewalls. This can help reduce operational costs by streamlining the full API lifecycle and increase business agility with democratized API development.
2. Challenge: Leveraging point to point integration. Another finding in the survey: 22% of organizations still use point to point integration as an application integration strategy. This approach is often used when pre-built connectors or an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solution is not available or feasible. While useful in very specific use cases, point-to-point integrations can become complex and difficult to manage as the number of systems and integrations increase. This can slow down decision making and delay the development of new innovations — a certain path to mediocrity.
Strategy: An iPaaS solution is ideal for organizations who are looking to move beyond point-to-point integrations. That’s because an iPaaS provides a centralized platform that simplifies the management of multiple integrations, which makes it easier to maintain and scale. For example: Suppose a company uses an e-commerce platform to manage its online store and a CRM to manage its customer data. With an iPaaS solution, the company can synchronize customer data from its e-commerce platform with its CRM system in real-time. This is done through pre-built connectors and integration patterns, which simplifies the integration process and reduces development effort.
3. Challenge: Using legacy middleware or ESB to integrate and automate. According to the survey, 20% of organizations continue to integrate applications and automate their business processes on their legacy middleware or enterprise service bus (ESB) solution. Because it’s an on-premises service, an ESB solution may not be able to connect to cloud-based applications or services, which can limit an organization's ability to fully integrate its systems and applications. Plus, ESBs are not scalable nor flexible and can be expensive to maintain.
Strategy: Due to its flexibility, an iPaaS can integrate with a wide range of cloud-based and on-premises applications. This enables organizations to build complex integrations that span across multiple systems and applications. Unlike an ESB solution, an iPaaS can automate intricate workflows, enabling businesses to streamline their processes and improve efficiency. An iPaaS also ensures data accuracy and consistency across systems and applications and enables real-time data exchange, faster response times and personalized interactions.
4. Challenge: Utilizing custom-coded integration. Thirty-six percent of surveyed organizations reported they use custom-coded integration, which involves developing an integration solution from scratch. While this can be a good approach for distinct use cases, it’s not ideal as integration requirements become more complex. Plus, custom-coded integration can be more time-consuming and expensive since it requires specialized development skills and ongoing maintenance and support. Not only is time lost, but costs can get out of hand.
Strategy: Leveraging an application integration solution can help organizations overcome the hassles of custom-coded integration with low-code/no-code capabilities that help design integrations. This is accomplished with intuitive wizards, AI and drag-and-drop options. These innovative tools help organizations to streamline their operations, reduce costs and improve productivity — must-haves in a crowded market.
5. Challenge: Relying on application vendors or hyperscalers for connectivity. The survey states that 26% of organizations rely on their application vendors (such as Oracle and SAP) for connectivity options for application integration and process automation. Sounds convenient, right? Unfortunately, connectors provided by application vendors and hyperscalers are typically designed to work specifically with their own limited niche set of applications. This can result in a patchwork of integrations that are difficult to manage and maintain over time.
Strategy: An iPaaS provides a range of connectors for building and managing complex integrations between multiple applications. With an iPaaS, businesses can connect multiple applications and systems, whether they are provided by the same or different vendors. iPaaS connectors offer greater compatibility with different technologies, protocols and data formats. This can lead to rapid integration, reduced complexity, improved productivity and better agility.
The bottom line? Organizations that want to effectively compete in today’s digital economy must automate their business processes and integrate their application stack.
Are you ready to transform business operations, automate business processes and accelerate innovation at lower costs? Informatica can help.
Learn more now:
- Find out how to achieve radical productivity and increase business agility with our application integration and process automation solutions.
- Hear how customers have used Informatica iPaaS, a service of Intelligent Data Management Cloud™ (IDMC), to drive their digital transformation, integration and automation initiatives. It’s not too late to attend Informatica World virtually on May 9–10.
1Gatepoint Research, Pulse Report, Application Integration and Hyperautomation Strategies, November 22, 2022