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Tech innovation crucial to growth, but barriers remain

By Catherine Knowles
Thu 12 May 2022

Businesses in the Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) region believe tech innovation is crucial to drive future growth, but 76% say they’re being held back by complex data architecture, MongoDB research revealed.

The APAC Report on Data and Innovation published by MongoDB surveyed 2,000 developers and IT decision-makers (ITDMs) across Asia, including 400 in A/NZ.

In the digital age, an organisation's success is often tied to how fast they can build and deploy new solutions and applications. This has increased the strategic importance of developers who have become the driving force for innovation, the researchers state.

However, as the report uncovered, developers are being held back from driving this innovation because of complex and legacy data architectures which take significant time and resources to work around. This is the recurring tax on innovation.

In fact, in A/NZ 67% reported that working with data is the hardest part of building and evolving applications and their single biggest technical challenge in application development is the integration of different data sources.

Despite 79% agreeing that regularly building new, innovative applications and features is crucial for their long-term success, many respondents report not being able to spend as much time on innovation as they would like.

Both development teams and ITDMs report spending just as much time maintaining existing data, apps and infrastructure (29%) as they are on building new value-added features or applications (28%).

The report found 59% of respondents described their organisations data architecture as complex and 76% said complexity was a limiting factor when it came to innovation.

Businesses also report that if they were unable to innovate the most serious consequences would be loss of revenue and an inability to respond to customers.

MongoDB CTO Mark Porter says, "When I look at the companies that are on the bleeding edge of innovation, they're not outsourcing their innovation to third-parties. Rather these organisations have a leadership team that understands the complexities of how software is built today and want to empower their development teams with solutions that make them more productive.

"Unfortunately, the data from our research echoes what I've been hearing from executives. Organisations still leveraging complex and legacy technologies are doing so at a detriment to the productivity of their development teams. Leaders heading up digital transformation initiatives need to be focused on how fast they can deploy an application, how quickly they can iterate on it as well as how predictably they can schedule application deployment."

A majority of organisations in A/NZ (59%) agreed that digital transformation has made their data architecture more complex. When it came to cloud, it was clear that some companies have had different experiences with nearly half (48%) of respondents saying moving to the cloud had helped simplify their architecture, while 39% reported that the cloud has actually made their data architecture more complex.

Legacy data infrastructure was another identified hindrance, with 76% calling it out as a blocker to innovation. As requirements for modern applications grow, so too can the underlying infrastructure bloat as more things are added, such as search functionality or a mobile app.

For example, 36% of businesses in the region reported having more than 10 databases. This complexity often requires developers to spend time maintaining the different multiple data models, integrating data sources, supporting legacy systems and bolting on security fixes, the researchers state.

MongoDB senior vice president APAC Simon Eid says, "Cloud is a vehicle for companies to innovate faster and more efficiently, but it's clear not all organisations are reaping the same benefits.

"The difference lies in how organisations think about their cloud journey: are they only looking to shift and lift existing operations and processes, which ultimately leads to disparate systems and complex, spaghetti type data infrastructures? Or are they taking a more holistic approach to understand what would reduce complexity and empower their developers to contribute to the organisation's innovation agenda.

"What we're seeing in Australia and New Zealand is that many organisations have found a better way. Regardless of size or industry, if you look at the brands that are innovating fast today and those that thrived in the pandemic, you will often find that they are the ones that have prioritised developer productivity, deployed elegant and repeatable architecture, refused to compromise on security & data privacy, and managed to get deployment flexibility."

The research also found:

  • The top priority for innovation is increasing internal efficiency/productivity
  • The single biggest contributor to data complexity is the pressure to create new products or features, as well as lack of coordination and planning
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