Digital transformations tend to focus on the desired high-level benefits such as greater efficiency and profitability, more operational and business agility, and better customer experience. This top-level view overlooks a major, pivotal element of digitalisation which is foundational to the success of all transformation efforts – integration.

Integration is what pulls technology initiatives together into a cohesive, actionable strategy. It is especially important as companies of all sizes and types evolve into extended enterprises – that is delivering services, solutions and products via an ecosystem of partners through platform-based business and operational models.

These models are the most efficient ways ever found of bringing together buyers and sellers, as shown by the fact that many of the world’s most valuable companies are platform-based.

This shift to platform models is only part of the story though: Enterprises are running their IT systems across many different infrastructures, from on-premise, to public, private, hybrid and multi-cloud. Integration is what enables them to work seamlessly, and the systems to become infrastructure agnostic.

Done correctly, integration ensures business outcomes are greater than the sum of the smoothly interoperable parts. Done badly, it becomes an inhibitor, preventing the recycling and reuse of IT building blocks, and stopping internal capabilities from being consumed by external – and possibly even internal – parties.

No wonder that in 2018, Gartner predicted, “Through 2020, integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform”. This white paper explores how a platform-based approach to integration itself and the democratization of integration are the keys to success.

Gartner’s solution to many faceted challenge of transforming integration as an enabler of wider digitalization efforts is the hybrid integration platform or HIP. The ‘hybrid’ in HIP describes the essential co-existence of legacy and modern integration technologies as part of digital transformation.

Over time, enterprises will transition from integration technologies that have been around for a decade or more, progressively moving to the newer tools and approaches, which form the building blocks of modern integrations. Not all legacy technologies will be modernized, but their retirement still needs careful oversight.

Specifically, newer integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) and cloud native integration models deliver better return on investment from integration transformation.

As interconnections with partners in extended enterprises proliferate, so do the number of integrations, which will evolve to become a part of everyday business life for many more people, rather than the province of specialists. A hybrid integration platform provides easy access to user-friendly tools, boosting reuse and consistency.

Integration transformation is integral to the success of any enterprise’s digitalization and specialist help is recommended, as outlined in this paper. The paper sets out to demonstrate that although transformation attempts fail, and typically at considerable cost, it doesn’t have to be that way.


Integration is often overlooked in the rush of corporate enthusiasm for digital transformation but it is a large, inherent part of any digitalization initiative. That means that integration itself needs to be transformed as part of and to enable the wider digital transformation. Already IT teams globally are spending over a third of their time on integration projects, according to the MuleSoft’s 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report, and custom integrations are costing large enterprises on average £2.5 million ($27.55 million) each in annual labor.

As digital initiatives accelerate, integration is a critical factor in determining the success and speed of digital transformation across every industry sector. What’s more, integration’s importance and impact are expanding all the time as:


Integration is no longer solely about enabling and improving internal processes and interoperability. It is essential to enable companies to evolve into extended enterprises, offering services, products and solutions to customers as part of an ecosystem. Many businesses in every sector are moving towards this model because as the world’s largest platform- and ecosystem-based companies show (such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google), it is the most efficient way yet found to bring buyers and sellers of products and services together.


Partners in ecosystems interact via platforms that bring buyers, sellers and end users together, enabling B2B and B2B2X transactions. The platforms also help organizations open their internal capabilities to third parties via open APIs.


Applications run across different kinds of infrastructure and straddle boundaries, such as a company’s own data centres and public, private or hybrid cloud, or even multi-cloud. The backend of an organization typically runs traditional back-office systems and applications in parallel with those on the cloud.


Increasingly enterprises are looking to leverage the full capabilities of running applications in a cloud native environment, rather than simply doing a ‘lift and shift’ of legacy applications to the cloud.


Integration is also at the heart of other defining characteristic of digital companies, such as the fact they are data-driven, which means being able to pull data from varied, multiple sources to extract intelligence from them with analytics, and, increasingly, AI.


Integration is an intrinsic element of automation, which is most useful when implemented from end to end, rather in islands. Automation can only ever be as good as and as extensive as the integration that underpins it.


During digital transformation initiatives, integration often becomes a bottleneck with demand outstripping enterprises’ capacity. Also, the scope of traditional integration tools and approaches are unequal to the new tasks asked of them because they weren’t designed for those purposes, which makes progress slow, expensive and unsustainable.

As Massimo Pezzini, Research Vice President and Gartner Fellow (now Emeritus), said back in 2018, “The complex challenges posed by digital business transformation require a radical change in the integration technology platform and in the way organizations deal with integration.”


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