MuleSoft, provider of the world’s #1 integration and API platform, today reported that more than three-quarters (76%) of retailers say improving operational excellence with real-time visibility into supply chain data is their top priority for next 12 months. Other priorities included creating connected omnichannel experiences (68%), delivering differentiated customer experiences (68%), expanding into new markets (47%), and achieving a single view of the customer (41%).
MuleSoft’s IT and Business Alignment Barometer found that nearly 70% of automation initiatives are being hindered by security concerns and data silos. However, it also revealed opportunities for retailers to overcome these challenges and enable faster innovation across their organizations. IT and business teams working closely together can shrink or even eliminate silos, significantly reducing time to market. The report shows that almost 9 in 10 (86%) say IT and business alignment has improved over the last 12 months, leading to a number of benefits, including improved customer experience (65%), collaboration (64%), and operational efficiency (60%).
“Consumers are increasingly expecting seamless, digital experiences, so it is imperative that IT and business teams are on the same page,” said Paul Crerand, Field CTO EMEA, MuleSoft. “As retailers look to build new omnichannel experiences and embrace automation, empowering more people – developers and non-developers alike – to connect data and apps in a secure, yet frictionless, way will be key to future business success.”
Based on a global study of 400 IT and business decision makers (ITDMs and BDMs) within retail organizations, the IT and Business Alignment Barometer also highlights organizations’ business priorities and challenges over the next 12 months.
Digital imperative increases automation adoption
In a digital, work from anywhere world, it’s never been more important to sense and respond to changing market dynamics — and the needs of customers and employees — with speed, agility, and efficiency. Automation has become a rising focus for many retailers to drive convenience, speed, and cost reductions. Retailers report that:
- There’s automation everywhere: 96% of retailers have implemented or are in the process of implementing automation initiatives to improve operational efficiency. 95% see automation as a means to create better customer experiences and 94% to improve productivity.
- IT leads automation initiatives: Almost two-thirds (65%) of retailers say their automation initiatives are IT-led (i.e., driven by the IT department and the technology that is available).
Security concerns and data silos slow down business
Security and governance along with data silos continue to pose a challenge to automation initiatives, slowing down innovation.
- Security concerns slowing down the pace of innovation: The majority (85%) of IT and business leaders in retail say that security and governance concerns are slowing down the pace of innovation.
- Disparate systems cause security headaches: Almost three-quarters (71%) of retail organizations say the integration of disparate systems has increased their concerns around data security and governance – 26% say it had ‘significantly’ increased concerns.
- Retailers still wary of empowering non-technical users: Most retail organizations recognize the need to empower business teams to help take the operational strain off IT. However, the majority remain wary about the security implications; 86% admitted security concerns were holding them back from empowering non-technical users to integrate data sources.
Collaborative innovation model for IT and business drives agility
To overcome integration challenges and become more agile, IT and business teams need to work together to co-create value and keep pace with the speed of digitalization. IT teams can focus on producing secure and governed reusable assets, and empower business teams to integrate and self-serve these IT-approved assets to deliver innovation faster.
- COVID-19 has sparked a new focus on business agility: The majority (80%) of retail organizations say improving business agility to remain competitive will be extremely important in the future. This is a notable increase from 71% who said it was a focus pre-pandemic.
- IT increasingly drives business outcomes: The majority (88%) of business and IT leaders agree that IT has become even more important in driving business outcomes in the last 12 months. Nearly half (47%) say it has become ‘significantly’ more important.
- Value of integration is recognized by the business: Almost 9 in 10 (86%) BDMs feel that improved integration will help them meet their business objectives – 40% say it would help them “a lot”.
- Empowering business users to create connected experiences: The vast majority (88%) of retail organizations agree business outcomes would improve if business users were able to use low or no-code to securely connect apps and data on their own to create connected experiences. This capability would enable organizations to improve productivity (51%), create better connected customer experiences (51%), become more data-driven (48%), improve operational efficiency (48%), and become more agile for change (48%).
MuleSoft’s IT and Business Alignment Barometer report, in partnership with Coleman Parkes Research, surveyed 2,400 IT and business decision makers across the globe regarding their business priorities over the next 12 months, and the technological and operational challenges they face making them a reality. An online survey was conducted between April and May 2021 across the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand. Only suitable candidates participated in the survey and were verified by using a rigorous, multi-level screening process. Respondents are all IT decision or business decision makers — those who hold a managerial position or above. All respondents work at an organization in the public or private sector with at least 1,000 employees.