Struggle to Integrate AI and Other New Tech Threatens Digital Transformation

Data integration issues are hindering AI adoption, Salesforce's 9th annual MuleSoft Connectivity Benchmark Report finds.

Sean Michael Kerner, Contributor

January 26, 2024

4 Min Read
cover of MuleSoft's 2024 Connectivity Benchmark Report

A new report from Salesforce highlights how data integration challenges are preventing organizations from fully leveraging new technology like artificial intelligence to drive productivity and business value.

The MuleSoft 2024 Connectivity Benchmark Report surveyed more than 1,000 IT leaders worldwide to understand the obstacles companies face adopting new technologies. While some challenges remain the same as what the 2023 Connectivity Benchmark Report revealed, one big new addition comes from the introduction of AI over the past year.

The report shows AI adoption skyrocketing, with 80% of organizations now using multiple AI models. However, critical barriers threaten this AI-driven future. The top challenge highlighted is integration, with 95% of IT leaders citing issues integrating AI into existing systems.

While AI is top of mind for many, it's not the only IT integration issue of concern as digital transformation efforts run into numerous obstacles.

Key findings in the report include:

  • 85% of IT leaders expect AI to boost developer productivity over the next three years. However, only 28% of applications are connected on average currently.

  • 62% say their organization isn’t equipped to unify data systems to take advantage of AI. Lack of data integration is hindering AI innovation.

  • 81% report data silos are obstructing digital transformation initiatives overall. 75% struggle to integrate data insights into user experiences.

  • IT project requests have surged 39% in the past year, straining IT teams. 31% now use robotic process automation to manage high demands.

  • 98% cite challenges with digital transformation. Top challenges are skills gaps and compliance concerns.

Related:Generative AI in ITOps: Its Potential and Limitations

Kahlon pulled quote


"MuleSoft’s 9th annual Connectivity Benchmark Report revealed that 62% of CIOs and IT leaders say their organization is not equipped to unify data systems to benefit from AI," Param Kahlon, executive vice president and general manager of Automation and Integration at Salesforce, told ITPro Today. "IT teams are inundated with requests, with the report showing a 39% increase in requested tasks, yet they continue to suffer from talent shortages, unclear AI goals, and internally siloed data."

Why Organizations Struggle Integrating Data Insights into User Experiences

Among the findings in the report is that many organizations are struggling with integrating data insights into user experiences.

There are a few reasons for this challenge, according to Kahlon. The AI boom has added a new layer of complexity to integration strategies. Integration challenges are primarily centered on two ideas, he said. First, organizations are having difficulty integrating generative AI features with their other software systems. Subsequently, there’s the challenge of needing to integrate between existing systems. Skill gaps, compliance considerations, and legacy infrastructure are some of the biggest hurdles for IT teams in achieving integration.

Related:Benefits of Digital Transformation: 5 Tools for Software Development

MuleSoft’s Connectivity Benchmark Report revealed that some 38% of IT leaders cited a lack of skill sets and experience within their current teams as a hindrance to their digital transformation efforts.

"To overcome these barriers, organizations must revisit their integration strategies and break down the data silos that contribute to digital transformation bottlenecks," Kahlon said. "A strong foundation of API connectivity offers comprehensive system visibility that can power integrations and help combat issues presented by disconnected data."

How Organizations Can Further Optimize and Benefit from APIs

APIs, which is what MuleSoft's technology helps organizations use and integrate, are critical to advancing the state of digital transformation, according to the company.

Kahlon noted that for many organizations that Salesforce surveyed, approximately 33% of all revenue is from APIs and their related offerings — a number that has remained steady for the past three years. Additionally, APIs have decreased operational costs for 35% of companies as well, he said.

"While the use of APIs is predominant in the industry, few companies have been able to use them as a strategic lever," Kahlon said. "This is because managing and securing data at scale has become increasingly complex with API sprawl, as nearly one-quarter of APIs goes ungoverned."

In Kahlon's view, it is imperative for IT leaders to create seamless integrations and increase interoperability. By doing so, he said organizations will be able to harness the full potential of AI and automation tools, which will foster a cohesive and agile technological stack.

About the Author(s)

Sean Michael Kerner


Sean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.

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