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Organisational silos hampering integration efforts in Asia

Many organisations in Asia still approach integration in silos, choosing to build hard coded integrations that tend to be brittle and more prone to failure

Organisational silos have been hampering companies in Asia from integrating their applications to deliver good user experiences, a study has found.

According to the Asia-Pacific edition of Mulesoft’s 2022 Connectivity benchmark report, organisations in the region are using 1,020 individual applications – higher than those in the US and Europe – yet only 28% of these applications are integrated on average.

Brian Kealey, Mulesoft’s area vice-president for Asia, attributed this to the fact that many organisations in Asia take a siloed approach to integration.

“There’s not always a consistent integration and automation platform, which means each project team implements their own integration in their own way,” Kealey said. “And those point-to-point or hard coded integrations tend to be brittle and more prone to failure as the systems around them change.”

More recently, the growing adoption of cloud by more organisations in the region has made integration harder as organisations could be using legacy integration systems that are not cloud-friendly.

“A typical enterprise service bus probably won’t work very well connecting with your SaaS [software-as-a-service] applications and so we’re seeing a lot of refreshes in that space,” he said. “In Asia, there’s still project-by-project coding of those integrations, and that’s really the enemy of the agility and speed that customers are aiming for.”

Still, there are some enlightened organisations that have taken a more holistic view of their integration efforts.

Take, Insead, the French business school, which has a campus in Singapore. Kealey said Insead built a “composable enterprise strategy” to provide a seamless experience for students, from recruitment to the time they attend classes on or off campus, and after they graduate to become alumni.

“They broke down all their systems into building blocks and when they want a new process, they reuse what they’ve built using something like Mulesoft,” he said. “When new projects come along, they reuse those assets and contribute new assets where they don’t exist, so each project becomes a little bit faster and cheaper.”

Acquired by Salesforce in 2018 for $6.5bn, Mulesoft is a cloud-based integration and application programming interface (API) platform that helps enterprises connect up different applications and orchestrate workflows between them.

The market for such so-called integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) offerings usually come with prebuilt connectors to common business applications, from Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) and SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to Workday’s talent management software.

“Anyone that’s credible in the space will have connectors. The things that differentiate us is the quality of those connectors, so having a connector for SAP doesn’t necessarily mean it’s as effective as someone else’s.

“We believe we’ve spent the time – and we’ve been in this market long enough – to build one of the most robust connectors for those common systems on one platform,” Kealey said.

In addition, Kealey said Mulesoft provides “solution accelerators” on top of connectors that organisations can use to build APIs for specific business processes, such as loan origination in the financial sector.

“You can expose those APIs to yourself or to third parties – customers choose us because they don’t just get an iPaaS, they also get an API platform with the accelerators and methodology to help them do that stuff much faster than they might otherwise be able to do,” added Kealey.

As one of the fastest-growing business units in Salesforce, Mulesoft is bullish about its growth prospects in Asia, having doubled the size of the region’s channel partners team in the last four months in response to market demand, Kealey said.

“It’s a good place to be, and as customers start to build enterprise platforms with reusability and composability to compete, they’re going to need to break down those silos to deliver enterprise-wide customer experiences,” he said.

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