According to newly unveiled ASUG and SAP research, almost all SAP customers will embark on integration projects in 2024. However, organizations must work to overcome knowledge gaps and other challenges if they're to reap the full benefits of such initiatives.

In the fast-evolving realm of enterprise technology, integration has been an established priority for organizations seeking to streamline operations, enhance data usage, and drive successful business outcomes. Since 2020, integration projects have remained a top focus for organizations, according to ASUG Pulse of the SAP Customer research. In the five years since ASUG first started tracking member organizations’ focus areas, organizations have only furthered their efforts to tackle such projects. 

Is 2024 the year of integration? Recent ASUG research, conducted in collaboration with SAP, reveals that almost all SAP customers will conduct integration projects this year. The research results, gathered in October 2023, reflect insights from 129 ASUG members and SAP customers, providing a comprehensive snapshot of integration strategies, challenges, and benefits.

Integration Strategies: A Holistic Approach

Almost half of SAP customers have a defined integration strategy, indicating a growing awareness of the importance of seamless connectivity in today’s complex business landscapes. Those who reported having detailed strategies in place indicated that these strategies center on honing the tools their organizations rely on and strictly sourcing all data elements to establish clear governance and security. 

While 39% of those surveyed are still in the planning stages for their integration projects, and 18% of organizations report not having a strategy in place, these results highlight the journey many enterprises are now undertaking to align their systems for optimal integration efficiency.

Members of the ASUG community with a plan in place offered these four tips for building a detailed integration strategy:

  • Rely on the tools you have from SAP
  • Source all data elements and establish strong governance/security
  • Find the right people (dedicated internal teams, SMEs, and SAP partners)
  • Implement in phases, or process by process

Integration Benefits and Challenges: A Balancing Act

The integration landscape is not without its challenges. Despite the myriad benefits integration provides, like streamlined business processes, improved use of data and analytics and better adoption and use of applications, organizations pursuing integration projects face hurdles in the form of staffing constraints, data inconsistencies, budget limitations, and the perpetual struggle to keep up with rapidly advancing technologies.

Learn more about the specific challenges SAP customers face in this interactive data.

The Human Element in Integration: Skill Development and Staffing

Integrations are handled by a range of internal and external resources. For most, external resources consist of integration experts, such as consultants, and third-party providers who offer support. Meanwhile, internal resources comprise a mix of existing staff members who acquire skills through on-the-job training and established experts within the organization.

Recognizing the importance of skilled personnel in integration projects, this research underscores that slightly more than half of organizations are presently investing in building integration skills among existing staff. Furthermore, half of the organizations surveyed boast integration expertise on their teams, emphasizing the need for specialized knowledge in managing complex integration scenarios.

Members of the ASUG community provided these recommendations for organizations preparing to focus on leveraging integrations: 

Selecting Integration Providers: A Delicate Balancing Act

The decision-making process for selecting integration providers involves a range of criteria. SAP customers prioritize ease of integration with other systems, scalability, and global capabilities. The research underscores the importance of choosing providers that align with the specific integration needs and future scalability requirements.

Future Trends and Considerations: AI, Automation, and Beyond

As organizations continue to evolve and integration issues persist, the integration landscape is set to witness a surge in AI and automation adoption to assist organizations in completing their 2024 projects. 

ASUG asked members if they feel their organizations can fully optimize integrations by innovating with event-based architecture, enterprise automations, or AI. 40% believe these innovations are critical to fully optimizing integrations, while 25% do not believe this to be the case, and the remaining respondents were uncertain as to the integrations they’d optimize through these innovations. 

For those who reported they aren’t able to optimize integrations, the main barriers included lack of knowledge/skills, structural issues at their organizations, lack of standardization/agility, and too much complexity/customization.

Driving Business Forward with Integration

The trends identified in the ASUG and SAP research reveal a business landscape increasingly cognizant of the critical role integration can play in achieving operational excellence. 

Organizations position themselves to succeed by building comprehensive integration strategies, swiftly overcoming challenges, and investing in technological and human capital. This allows businesses to drive innovation, capitalize on emerging technologies, and realize better business outcomes. 

As SAP customers overwhelmingly embrace integration in 2024, the journey toward a seamlessly connected digital future continues to unfold. Explore this research and download insights here.

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