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Cloud Adoption Hampers Integration for the Digital Enterprise
December 11, 2015 Blog Business Intelligence

Adoption of cloud-based applications has skyrocketed in certain segments, such as marketing automation and sales force automation, according to a new industry report by Scribe Software.

The reports notes that overall, the increased use of cloud applications is leading to an explosion of best-of-breed applications. Integrating cloud applications, however, was one of the major challenges highlighted in the survey, and is driving the need for agile new integration options. In fact, 61% of survey respondents expressed a lack of satisfaction with their cloud-to-cloud integration capabilities.

Scribe Software, a global data integration company, this week unveiled a new industry report, “Connectivity in the Enterprise: The Rise of Cloud and Its Integration Challenges” in partnership with Spiceworks.

The report examines current industry application deployment trends and data integration practices, uncovering key opportunities and challenges faced by almost 300 IT leaders adapting to new agile connectivity needs in enterprises shifting to cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) applications.

“The current reality is that enterprises are purchasing more cloud-based SaaS applications, which means that IT professionals must prepare for constant change, connecting more applications at a faster rate than ever before,” said Keith Guttridge, research director at Gartner.

“Enterprises need to prioritise connectivity as a strategic imperative today. The old ‘tried and true’ integration methods simply lack the agility required to keep up with the current explosion of cloud applications.”

Though cloud adoption has gained momentum in recent years, inertia from on-premise applications means hybrid environments remain dominant in the enterprise. For the time being, core business applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI)/analytics have remained largely on premise, with this year’s survey results showing a modest cloud adoption increase when compared to Scribe’s 2013 survey.

The combination of on-premise and cloud applications increases the complexity, velocity and volume of data, causing businesses to struggle to achieve a 360 degree view of their customers.

As of this year, 59% of survey respondents are not satisfied with their ability to synch data between cloud and on-premise systems — a clear barrier for businesses that seek to move beyond integration fundamentals like enabling reporting and basic analytics.

The report finds that custom coding to individual application programming interfaces (APIs) is still the most popular method of integration, with 54% of respondents using it as their primary choice for connecting applications — an increase from the 48% who relied on custom code in Scribe’s 2013 report. The prevalence of the custom coding approach continues due to its familiarity to development organisations.

However, enterprise IT consistently underestimates the long-term cost of custom-coded integration, especially in hybrid deployments where cloud applications — which are updated multiple times a year — are involved. Survey respondents reported their top integration challenge is the time to develop a solution (45%), followed by the solution’s cost (36%). The time or ongoing effort required to update solutions was less of a concern.

Despite the popularity of custom coding to an API, dissatisfaction with cloud integration capabilities has led 59% of respondents to use third party software, connectors and platforms to simplify the process.

“Successful enterprise IT teams are recognising the need not only to connect their applications up front, but to build an agile integration capability that can evolve alongside the application,” noted Shawn McGowan, president and CEO of Scribe.

“Business needs change quickly, and IT professionals are beginning to realise the value that an agile integration platform as a service (iPaaS) offers throughout the lifecycle of the integration.”

Additional findings include:

Top data integration initiatives include migrating data from one system to another (42%), back office to front office (37%), integrating data for BI/analytics (37%) and integrating on-premise apps (35%).

Large companies ( > 1,000 employees) were also focused on master data management (MDM) and big data, with 32% and 22% reporting those as top data integration initiatives.

The most important factors organisations consider when evaluating data integration solutions are core characteristics such as the ability to learn the system (51%), ease of use (47%), data quality (39%), connectivity (39%) and scalability (38%).

The report also contains prescriptive steps on how IT leaders, SaaS providers and systems integrators can tackle integration moving forward.

You can download the full report online here: