Automation and integration: the next digital frontier.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically accelerated the pace of change across the business world, with an unprecedented number of businesses migrating to a work-from-home or hybrid-work model. IT and business leaders have had to work closer than ever before to find new ways to improve productivity, efficiency and collaboration in their new work environments. It’s been encouraging to see business leaders become increasingly aware of how important IT is in meeting their business goals, and strengthening their value proposition.
However, there’s a new set of challenges for businesses as they incorporate more technology into their daily operations. More technology means more opportunities for data to be compromised. Business leaders feel these concerns are holding them from automating more of their business, integrating systems, and innovating in their field.
We recently surveyed IT and business leaders worldwide to gauge their business priorities in the wake of COVID-19. They told us that the pandemic has led to an even greater need for operational efficiency, increased productivity and faster innovation. Nearly every leader (99%) realised automation would be necessary to meet these goals faster, and most of those we surveyed have started automating their processes.
Business leaders also recognise that integration is critical to achieving their efficiency and productivity goals. Integration can help the entire workforce do their jobs faster and deliver new services to customers. As businesses add more services and functions to their IT stack, connecting disparate systems becomes more complex.
As the need for automation and integration rises, so do the lingering data security and governance concerns. Of those we surveyed, 66% told us that security and governance were the biggest barriers preventing their business from automation and integration. Even more shocking for more advanced businesses is that these challenges are also slowing down the pace of innovation.
Automation initiatives are also being held back by the data silos that house critical data needed for successful automation. On the other hand, 85% of those surveyed said integration suffers due to security concerns when non-technical users feel apprehensive about integrating their data and processes with the rest of the company, opening up more opportunities for data to become compromised.
Businesses and their employees are right to be concerned about data security. Cyber attacks have only ramped up in frequency amid the pandemic, particularly ransomware, and the impact of a personal employee or customer data being compromised would be catastrophic to a business. However, there are solutions to these challenges.
Businesses can create a central foundation of governance as a single source of guidance for the entire organisation. By establishing a central foundation of governance in a single platform, the IT department can establish, apply and enforce its policies through just one lens, or “a single pane of glass” approach. This approach required the business to be agile so that every employee can access and comprehend whatever information is relevant to them. It's not giving different information to different departments but tailoring the same platform's view for each function to keep the entire organisation on the same page.
As for automation and integration, an API-led approach will help businesses bring their services to market faster while reducing the strain on the IT team, all while reducing costs. APIs can be reused across the business for any other applicable function, making each integration faster than connecting every system in the stack individually.
Using reusable APIs will empower all business users to integrate their data, not just the IT team. No-code and low-code platforms, which allow all users to use a “drag-and-drop” approach to developing APIs, are becoming more popular for this reason. No longer are APIs and application development the realm of the IT team, every department can stand up a product or application without roping in the IT team every time.
Companies are shifting their thinking to digital-first and it’s hard to argue that point when every employee can develop their apps. As businesses continue their digital journeys, whether through automation and integration or catching up to the hybrid-work model, business and IT leaders must continue to work closely together to achieve their goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a catalyst for leaders to rethink their business and focus on digital change, but it certainly won’t be the last. The companies that position their business and IT decision-making closer together will be the ones prepared to take on whatever comes next.