Uncertainty is certain - transformation is not an option, automation and adaptability are key to success

Paolo Malinverno Profile picture for user Paolo Malinverno August 2, 2022
"That's the way we've always done things", isn't going to help organizations thrive. Paolo Malinverno of Mulesoft explores how teams can overcome the obstacles to digital change.

Adapting to change as a business idea with a man walking on tightrope that transforms into a staircase © Lightspring - Shutterstock
(© Lightspring - Shutterstock)

We can’t even talk about the ‘new normal’ anymore, as the word ‘normal’ has lost its meaning. In an uncertain world of supply chain disruption, rising inflation, and growing labour shortages, change is the only constant for organizations today.

How effectively they can adapt and manage this change by digitally transforming is what separates success from failure. However, old thinking – "That’s the way we always did things, why should we change?" - business process roadblocks, and legacy technology are making it harder to accelerate innovation and meet rapidly evolving customer needs. Those organizations that can land on a winning combination will be best placed to adapt to current challenges and get in front of whatever new crises come down the road.

Planning ahead in an uncertain world

One thing that has not changed in recent years is organizations’ desire for growth. According to Gartner, 56% of CEOs say growth is their number one strategic business priority in 2022, and the overwhelming majority mention the word ‘transform’ when articulating their priorities. The pandemic taught us the true extent to which transformation is possible. However, the need for digital transformation was not just a pandemic blip – it is here to stay.

Economic growth rates are declining in most countries. On the other hand, soaring inflation has combined with weak business investment, tax rises, and the global economic shocks of the pandemic and war in Ukraine to create even more challenging conditions. Related labor shortages and supply chain bottlenecks continue to drive up costs further still. The bottom line is that organizations are being forced to deliver more value to customers and employees at the lowest possible cost.

As a result, the conversation on growth and transformation has evolved, and business leaders are more likely to be talking about improving efficiency, productivity, and resilience to ensure they continue to thrive. That’s not at all surprising given the macro-economic challenges facing today’s organizations.

Driving transformation faster and more efficiently

When striving for efficiency and capacity, organizations face a choice of tapping into existing resources or implementing new solutions. In many cases, it’s not a black and white decision, and the most effective options combine old and new. Organizations were never hungrier for automation to streamline processes and drive greater value from current technology – the concept of hyper-automation is becoming more popular. They are also well aware they can unlock new sources of innovation by leveraging non-technical business users with low-/no-code tools, in a governed way.

To this end, organizations are frequently tasking agile groups with implementing new ways to streamline processes both internally and with their customers and partners. Fusion groups composed of representatives of various parts of the organization are also becoming more common. That is the way digital transformations are advanced. However, streamlining processes typically involves going through tens of different existing applications, containing data in different formats, which must be carried throughout the process.

Here’s where the ability to integrate at scale plays a fundamental role. Research shows that integration challenges continue to slow digital transformation initiatives for 88% of global organizations. Too much time is being spent on custom integrations, which increase technical debt. Risk management and compliance concerns are also common roadblocks to digital change. While IT budgets are up, so is demand, creating more urgency for digital project delivery.

These challenges underscore why automation, transformation and integration must be key strategic priorities to provide organizations with the agility and resilience to think and act beyond today. For the organizations that get this right, there are huge potential rewards. For example, Bayer Crop Science has embraced a modern API strategy to enhance scalability and reduce maintenance and support costs. It was able to accelerate product innovation by 200% by reusing existing integrations, cutting development time from six to just two weeks and speeding time-to-market by five-fold.

Empowering every team

The challenge for many is identifying how they can turn this more agile, technology intense approach into a core competency for their business. This is best enabled by harnessing the potential of every single business user to drive transformation, rather than relying solely on the technology skills of an IT department. The key to this is to bring multi-disciplinary fusion teams together, and task them with specific innovation goals. These teams must accomplish their innovative tasks by using whatever technology skills they already have, or quickly develop the new ones that are required.

This strategy is best enabled by leveraging the power of automation and no- and low-code tools to allow business users to drag-and-drop composable building blocks – starting with APIs, evolving into packaged business capabilities – to create new customer experiences. When pieced together, these building blocks can deliver the innovation consumers crave, and the business process automation needed to bring innovation to the fore internally and with customers and partners.

Ultimately, this enables the team and their organization to reap the benefits of composability, so they can adapt faster to meet the challenges not just of today – significant as they are – but also those of tomorrow, whatever it may bring.

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