Application development still a clunky process, survey shows

Project work keeps piling on, and integration needs are getting out of hand.

If you want to understand how IT managers view their application development processes, ask them how its going. A common response will be that the application development process itself is still too clunky, and integration in an increasingly complex environment is even more of a headache than it ever was before. Almost all IT managers, 93 percent, admit that their application development process "could be more efficient."

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

These are some of the takeaways from a recent survey of 650 IT executives conducted by MuleSoft, which finds development processes aren't always smoothly running streamlined affairs. For example, 83 percent of IT managers say their organization does not always reuse software assets when it comes to developing new products and services. In addition, only about one-third of organizations' internal IT software assets and components are available for developers to reuse.

Yet nearly all of the surveyed IT managers said the number of projects they are being asked to deliver in their organization is increasing; on average, they reported a 27 percent increase in projects since last year. Twelve percent say their workloads even increased by more than 50 percent. At the same time, two-thirds of IT managers admitted they were not able to deliver all of the projects asked of them last year. On average, IT managers they oversee at least 1,020 applications on average.

Despite this huge number of applications, a relatively small number (29 percent) are integrated or connected together. A significant number (81 percent) of IT managers admit that "point-to-point integration has created some of the biggest headaches their organizations have ever seen," the survey report adds. The same percentage also agree that point-to-point integration needs to put out of its misery, and soon. There's just too much time being spent on one-off connection projects that are sapping the energy away from more productive pursuits.

IT managers say they continue to spend the majority (63 percent) of their time on keeping the lights on, compared to innovation and development projects.

There are ways to improve things, and IT managers are in general agreement about some ways to do it. For starters, 93 percent believe that IT self service will be critical to their digital transformation success.

APIs are also seen as a way to rapidly assemble applications and functions. Among organizations that own APIs, more than half (58 percent) have been able to leverage them to increase productivity; while nearly half (48 percent) say they have helped to increase innovation. Additional benefits include increasing employee engagement and collaboration (43 percent), and meeting line-of-business demands quicker (35 percent).

Notably, 35 percent also say APIs have provided an avenue to increase IT self service.

There is also fundamental work underway to improve IT's delivery of services to organizations. The top initiative underway at this time, the MuleSoft survey finds, is legacy system modernization, cited by 36 percent. Since legacy modernization is a broad topic, it can be assumed it encompasses a range of activities, from cloudifying and webifying back-end applications to migrating COBOL code to new platforms. Oh, and open source implementations. Additional initiatives cited in the survey include integrating SaaS apps (32 percent), investing in mobile apps (30 percent) and migrating apps to the cloud (31 percent).

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