Data integration and silos hinder success of AI

Photo by George Morina

New Salesforce research shows 86% of IT leaders in APAC expect AI to increase developer productivity at their organisations over the next three years — a welcome relief as they simultaneously report a 39% increase in IT requests in the last year alone.

However, 69% also say their organisation is ill-equipped to harmonise data systems to fully leverage AI. This is impeding the transition and further heightening the strain on IT teams.

Adding to these concerns, 98% of IT teams in APAC today report experiencing at least some degree of challenge with their digital transformation efforts, with 34% citing data silos and 77% grappling with systems that are overly dependent on one another.

MuleSoft’s annual Connectivity Benchmark Report surveyed 1,050 CIOs and IT decision makers around the world, including 400 in APAC, to understand these challenges and how organisations can use integration, automation, and APIs to build successful AI strategies. 

Successful AI strategies that drive ROI and business value hinge on integrating and unifying data

Successful AI strategies rely heavily on strong data integration strategies in order to reap the benefits of improving operational efficiency, productivity, and employee and customer experiences. Within APAC, the report shows:

  • AI adoption on the rise: IT leaders in APAC expect a 89% increase in the average number of LLMs they’ll use over the next three years – significantly greater than the 69% increase expected globally – with 88% of organisations reporting they already use multiple predictive and generative AI models today.
  • Integration is a hurdle to AI innovation: While AI drives efficiency and productivity, it is dependent on integrated data. However, only an estimated average of 28% of apps within APAC organisations are connected and 82% of IT leaders report that integration challenges are hindering digital transformation within their organisations
  • Security, trust remain as barriers to adoption: 64% of IT leaders are concerned with ethical AI usage and adoption.

Breaking down data silos can unlock AI’s full potential and provide a seamless user experience

Data silos are significant barriers to progress and business value, with 82% of APAC respondents reporting that silos are hindering digital transformation efforts. As a result, there is a greater need for better integration to unify all structured and unstructured business data to power and deploy trusted, relevant AI across all business functions. APAC results show:

  • Organisations are challenged to connect data with AI applications: 77% of IT leaders find their current infrastructure overly interdependent, with 69% reporting their organisation is not equipped to harmonise their data systems to leverage AI technologies – notably higher than the United States (55%) and Europe (60%)
  • Data insights go untapped: 74% of organisations say they’re struggling with integrating data insights into user experiences.
  • Digital customer experiences aren’t fully baked: Only 26% of organisations report providing a completely connected user experience across all channels.

Automation is essential as business users seek self-sufficiency, yet overburdened IT teams largely hold the keys

IT teams are often responsible for automation adoption, but remain cautious to allow business stakeholders to self-serve — only 25% of IT leaders in APAC report that their strategy to help non-technical business users integrate apps and data sources via APIs is up to date.

Simultaneously, a skills gap within IT teams poses a hurdle. Closing this gap through strategic collaboration and upskilling is essential for organisations to best use automation for both innovation and efficiency. APAC results show: 

  • IT teams are under immense pressure: IT teams are struggling to integrate efficiently, as 98% report facing challenges regarding digital transformation. Skills gaps and compliance concerns top the list of IT challenges.
  • AI can help IT teams’ performance: 86% of IT Leaders expect AI to boost developer productivity.
  • IT teams use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to ease the burden: IT teams globally increasingly adopt automation to manage high demands, with one in three teams now preferring RPA, a notable rise from 13% in 2021 to 31% in 2023.

Virtually every company runs on APIs, and they can be a strategic lever for growth

APIs streamline data access and utilisation to fuel growth by seamlessly connecting different applications and systems. In APAC, 33% of all revenue is from API and API-related offerings, a number that has remained steady over the past three years. 

  • APIs unleash revenue potential: APIs have contributed to increased revenue for 41% of respondents — and decreased operational costs for 37%.
  • APIs boost operational efficiency, enhancing productivity: IT leaders report that APIs increase productivity (50%), increase agility and promote self-service (48%), and benefit business teams by helping them meet their demands (43%).
  • Integrations are only as good as a company’s APIs: APIs continue to help successfully build integrations with over half (51%) of respondents.

“The potential of AI is limited only by the data that organisations can connect it to, and the outcomes they can drive from it,” said Brian Kealey, Vice President, APAC, MuleSoft.

“The report shows that IT leaders across APAC are increasingly aware of these integration and automation challenges, and underscores the need for a robust data strategy, with a focus on data currency, reuse and access. Data integration across applications through an enterprise API strategy will empower leaders to accelerate innovation and operationalise AI to drive business value and growth for the future.”

“A lack of integration is the top barrier to adopting emerging technologies, especially AI,” said Kurt Anderson, Managing Director and API Transformation Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“And as demand grows for seamless, personalised customer experiences, the interoperability of systems is crucial for harnessing the full potential of data, AI, and automation. That’s why integration should be the cornerstone of every IT leader’s digital transformation efforts in 2024.”