Integrate to automate - MuleSoft upgrades its offering to unburden IT by empowering business process users

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan June 30, 2022 Audio mode
Summary:
"When you do it right, it makes sense." True of so many IT developments. MuleSoft aims to make it easier to do it right, with automation at the forefront.

connectivity

You can't really automate unless you integrate. Automation that is not built on an integration mindset tends to fail.

So said Brent Hayward, CEO of Mulesoft, on the eve of the integration specialist unveiling what it’s pitching as its “next generation” offering with a focus on automation of processes. As per the official announcement, MuleSoft Automation can:

  • Deliver intelligent automation anywhere, with MuleSoft RPA replacing repetitive and manual tasks with bots that can intelligently process data from any system.
  • Focus on business team use with no code tech as both MuleSoft Composer and MuleSoft RPA connect applications with pre-built enterprise connectors and bots. 
  • Integration for MuleSoft RPA and MuleSoft Composer with the Anypoint Platform, so automations can tap into hundreds of connectors to important systems and APIs created by technical teams. 
  • Offer end-to-end automation at scale by integrating RPA bots with Salesforce Customer 360, the Anypoint Platform, and MuleSoft Composer.
  • Maintain security and governance via the Anypoint Platform.

Automation everywhere

Prior to the formal launch at the MuleSoft Connect event New York yesterday, David Schmaier, Salesforce Chief Product Officer, outlined the firm’s approach to automation:

The top priority that I'm hearing from customers in every single industry is all about automation. I believe automation is at the center of digital transformation and MuleSoft is the key piece of this puzzle. To put this into context, we're seeing greater adoption than ever for our suite of automation capabilities, which we call Salesforce Flow and the Salesforce Flow Automation Suite.

Let me just give you a few statistics. In March of 2022, Salesforce ran 1.3 trillion automations on the Salesforce platform. That amounts to $2.19 trillion in customer business value. That's 1.3 trillion times that somebody didn't have to write an email, send a notification, change his status field on a back office or mid office system, or manually duplicate data. Customers in healthcare, in financial services, in non-profit companies, in the manufacturing sector can use automation to do more with less. They're replacing these tedious and manual tasks with automated processes to accelerate productivity and to provide better customer and employee experiences at scale.

MuleSoft research suggests that 91% of organizations polled have seen increased demand for automation over the last two years, he added, while 77% of workers say automation has saved them time so they can deepen their relationships with customers:

What that means is, now wealth managers can focus on client outcomes versus automating repetitive tasks, healthcare providers can improve the patient experience and supply chain managers can unify data and integrate their disparate systems and legacy systems by streamlining order fulfilment and vendor management using automation with MuleSoft at the center.

This was a theme picked up by Hayward, who focused on the volatility of the current macro-economic climate and the pressures this places on organizations:

Long term plans are necessary, but the future is harder to predict when there's just so many vectors that are changing at once. We're finding that the organizations that thrive in the current digital economy are the ones that adapt to these changes fastest.

So for companies everywhere, this really comes down to three main things. One, you've got to be able to grow with efficiency. Two, you've got to be able to deliver agility at scale. And three, you've got to adopt a pattern of continuous innovation. And that's where automation and integration play a critical role and become some of the most relevant conversations we're having today with CEOs, CIOs, IT decision makers, and organisations that are focused on these goals.

There’s a need to focus on collaboration between IT and business, he added, providing the latter with a chance to take some of the weight off the shoulders of the former:

Experts in the business process are sometimes more expert than IT on the process side of what needs to be done, on what needs to be automated, but they're not developers. So they need low code tools that allow them to unburden IT, to take on some of this work. And then IT can prioritize were the heavy integration, heavy development and API management lives on the back end.

In the real world

Representing the end user point of view was Christine Tran, Head of Engineering Platforms at investment management specialist, Invesco, whose tech team works across the organization with other functional groups, such as enterprise architecture and data analytics, as well as with product development and the wider business side:

Not only are we responsible for the whole central API solution, the MuleSoft Anypoint platform, but we also collaborate necessarily with other teams to really put together that standard, that best practice, kind of those patterns that our developers are going to want to leverage to support the solutions that they're having to put in place…We’ve made great strides in our digital transformation journey so far and now, more than ever, it is time to leverage these highways, these pre-built roads that have already been made for us, and reuse them to accelerate our speed to deliver and innovate apps, while strengthening our guardrails and guidance.

There are four pillars around which Invesco's corporate and tech strategies operate - investing in talent; discovering and delivering value-added services; transforming investment outcomes; and championing client delivery, which includes digitizing client sales and engagement, ensuring stable and secure platforms and modernizing where and how Invesco’s people work. Tran said:

Technology has been on a very purposeful journey, transforming from a business enabler to providing a competitive advantage for Invesco. So as a part of our journey over the past couple of years, we’ve made progress on getting fit, becoming more operationally efficient and effective. Many of our top transformation initiatives are in flight today. We not only just focus on that drive for operating efficiencies overall, but on how are we simplifying, how are we making things easier, to use but also to maintain and support across the board? And then going forward, we definitely have a lot of ambitious ambitious targets to further simplify those environments.

All of this is where the need for ever more automation comes in, she explained:

We all agree that we need automation…Increasing automation uptake for the last couple of years is definitely something that [Tran's engineering customers have] seen and have seen the good impacts of. Automation can improve efficiency and the quality in the things that we're building and we can see the reduction of costs and help create more meaningful opportunities, just not for us, but also for our clients. Automation has become the strategic business enabler due to its effectiveness and proven ability to really accelerate the growth that we've had and maximizing a lot of our market opportunities.

There's also an employee experience angle to all this, she added: 

From an employee perspective, we've seen a lot of benefits in the automation world as well. There's some returns to the work/life balance, not being required to be online or in large major rollouts that are planned, that take up the whole entire weekend and take you away from your family. So automation is definitely something that we value and not just from a customer perspective - the employees are seeing the benefits. When you do it right, it makes sense. It's definitely something that we continue to know that we want and need as as we go on.

That’s particularly true in terms of enabling Invesco to operate as an agile organization, she explained: 

With the pace of change in our industry, MuleSoft has really allowed us to get the right information to the right customers at the right time, and empower our sales teams to leverage additional connection points to serve our customers. So we're improving data quality and accessibility and enabling our business to use the data strategically and, of course, at scale. Data and technology need to be considered together for Invesco to really gain that full potential of competitive advantages. And, of course, with the technology foundations that we have already put in place, with APIs really enabling faster integrations with external ecosystems, we're able to explore more in the digital assets, the technologies behind blockchain, and even smart contracts.

Invesco’s experiences are a prime example of the importance of integration and automation, concluded Schmaier:

Our view is digital transformation is going to transform every single industry, and there's going to be winners, and there's going to be losers. If you didn't believe in this thing we call digital transformation before the pandemic, now, every CEO and board of directors has got the memo, and they're trying to do this as fast as humanly possible.

He cited the example of a large telecommunications customer as a case in point:

[They had] a digital initiative to basically take phones and mobile service and put it on the internet so that people could buy, sell and get service and activate their phone on the internet. When they did this, the number of calls per year went from 50 million a year, down to 8 million, and the net promoter score went from in the 40s to 73. So they were able to save literally hundreds of millions of dollars by transforming the way they serve. It was not only a lower cost-to-serve, it was not only more efficient, but the customers loved it. And they almost doubled the Net Promoter Score. That's what we call 'digital in action'. And that's happening in telecommunications, that's happening in healthcare, that's happening in insurance, banking, you name it.

My take

When you do it right, it makes sense.

It’s a compelling argument from Tran, backing up the pitch from MuleSoft. 

It might be overshadowed of late by Slack, but MuleSoft has long been one of Salesforce’s most successful acquisitions.

More from MuleSoft Connect in the days to come.

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