MuleSoft Connect 2022: An ‘Expanded Universe’ of Integration Points and Users

Salesforce-owned unified automation, integration and API management company MuleSoft used its Connect 2022 conference programme to host hybrid virtual/real-life events in New York, London, Paris and Sydney - so just how much donkey work is this beast of burden now able to handle?

MuleSoft is known for its Anypoint Platform with its unified functions that centralise around integration, API management and automation. Named after the poor old mule, often shouldered with the donkey-work associated in any given task, the company’s technology takes the heavy lifting out of weaving together the foundational mechanics of software integration.

Salesforce completed its acquisition of MuleSoft back in May 2018. Widely regarded as a smart purchase, Salesforce’s previous integration technologies could be described as point-to-point connectors i.e., not a dedicated and unified platform-level approach, which is a key part of the central technology proposition that MuleSoft offers.

The Weight of Data Gravity

MuleSoft’s senior vice president of product Stephen Hsu is passionate on the subject of information management. He talks about the ‘weight of data gravity’ that exists in so many organisations, by which he means that there is an unseen force that works to lock down and contain information in corporate systems.

Continuing the analogy, MuleSoft’s technology is said to enable all enterprises to ‘surface’ their data i.e., to bring it forward and upwards out of applications, data sources and devices to a point where it can be successfully integrated with a view to building automations.

Salesforce used MuleSoft Connect 2022 to launch and showcase the next generation of MuleSoft. Now emblazoned with Salesforce cartoon family branding, MuleSoft retains its original company name and a good degree of its identity and personality. More importantly, MuleSoft continues to uphold its application network vision, which pledges to connect any application, data source or device – whether it touches Salesforce or not.

MuleSoft Enters RPA Arena

The total MuleSoft solution now includes MuleSoft RPA, a service built to deliver robotic process automation (RPA) no-code capabilities to automate repetitive manual tasks using software bots. This software enables users to connect data from any system (the company points to Slack, Stripe and Workday as perfect use case examples) with MuleSoft Composer.

MuleSoft Connect 2022
MuleSoft CEO and GM Brent Hayward

MuleSoft Composer itself is a technology service engineered to allow Salesforce administrator professionals to connect apps and data to Salesforce. The promise here is the ability to automate integrations with clicks, not code – directly in the Salesforce User Interface.

“As an integral part of Salesforce Customer 360, MuleSoft helps companies integrate complex systems and data, while expanding the universe of people who can use automation across any system or workflow,” said Shaun Clowes, chief product officer, MuleSoft. “The result is empowered business and IT users, from sales and customer service to HR and finance, who can do more with less – quickly creating workflows and integrations that drive efficient growth and faster time-to-value.”

MuleSoft Composer and MuleSoft RPA connect applications with pre-built enterprise connectors and bots. The resulting automations can be complex, sophisticated and highly functional as a result of being able to benefit from hundreds of connectors to important systems – they can even directly ‘invoke’ (i.e., connect to and exchange data with) APIs created by technical teams.

Customers Speak Up

MuleSoft Connect 2022
Taxi drivers wanted… if you’re looking for a job outside the tech world

UK and Americas-headquartered electronic security company ADT is using MuleSoft to focus on a corporate development mission that it explains as dedicated to creating personalised customer services. The company’s growth, through acquisitions and what it calls ‘purposeful change’, provided an opportunity to assess and improve employee and customer experiences by streamlining its technology stack.

“With MuleSoft, we’ve been able to integrate systems and automate processes more seamlessly to deliver unified and premium customer experiences from anywhere and across all our business divisions,” said Sam Jaddi, CIO, ADT.

Another global user with UK and European headquarters known for its cross-border, cross-currency money movement and payments is Western Union. The company is now using Salesforce Customer 360 to transform its digital banking platform.

“Our continued focus on customer experience requires that we increase our efficiency and productivity to deliver new experiences wherever our customers are. MuleSoft allows us to quickly access the information we need and automate workflows to drive omnichannel messaging capabilities, so our business teams can focus on providing great service and real-time conversations with our customers,” said Tom Mazzaferro, chief data and innovation officer, Western Union.

Digital Transformation, No, Really

What all this process of building automations comes down to is of course that thing we call digital transformation. But many of us are getting tired of this term digital transformation; we’re never really hearing enough of the granular mechanics and real world practices within it explained.

The creation of automations (plural) for digital transformation is the process of encapsulating work processes, work tasks, work systems and more digitally evolved workflows and encoding some or all of their parts into software-driven instructions, often through the use of RPA bots in a supporting integration platform – in this case, MuleSoft, obviously.

MuleSoft Connect 2022
Innovation seems to be a winner at the conference

Global field CTO for MuleSoft Matt McLarty understands the pain point here and works directly with customers to help them analyse the point at which they need to start restructuring what can often be complex organisational infrastructures.

“What most companies find – even if they have bought into the concept of digital transformation – is that it’s more complex than they may have first thought. No firm can just say – hey, let’s halt business and spend the next five years, months or even days just restructuring for digital,” explained McLarty, speaking at MuleSoft Connect 2022.

The so-called ‘journey to composable business’ is no plug-and-play quick fix. Where firms used to have departments, teams and business units to create some notion of composability, that dissection and division process now has to be enacted at a more granular level.

“What’s great about MuleSoft is the fact that we have the ability to say: here’s where you need to get to, but we’ll meet you at whatever point you are at now. As customers start to see how they can put business capabilities into APIs and so automate a process, they then realise that they can make that process faster and, at the same time, be able to reuse that capability at a future point,” clarified McLarty.

Thinking about how this process works in real world implementations, McLarty breaks it down into three tiers as follows:

#1 – Low-hanging fruit phase – where prototyping and experimentation can happen to validate wider initiatives to perform digital transformation.

#2 – The beacon phase – where the business moves to digitally transform ‘big statement’ applications and services that act as a beacon to illustrate how the organisation is changing to digitise where maximum business impact results, but within the realms of contained (i.e., managed and assessed) risk.

#3 – Widespread implementation – as it sounds, the extended process of digital transformation to integrate with an API-first approach and create automation.

Validation in the IT Echo Chamber

As a parting note to ruminate on here (Ed: don’t mix your metaphors, mules are monogastric herbivores, so not ruminants), we can certainly see that MuleSoft has brought a good chunk of the most widely popularised technologies that are all currently in their ascendancy to the table.

MuleSoft Connect 2022
A cool mule or a fool?

There’s unlocking data here, RPA, technology democratisation for citizen ‘insert here’ users… and there’s API-first centricity with a good dose of AI, ML and low-code no-code all presented with a generous topping of user experience (UX).

MuleSoft CEO and GM Brent Hayward says he is aware of that element and is very clear that all technologies tabled by the organisation have to validate their place, functionality and ability to deliver. Otherwise, in his own words, any technology vendor risks just reverberating around the ‘echo chamber’ of current tech trends, which MuleSoft quite visibly doesn’t.

The post-pandemic engineering that MuleSoft has now come forward with appears to be thoughtful, precision-engineered and delivered very much of-the-age that we now compute in i.e., across the always-on disaggregated containerised cloud. This mule is cool and is certainly no fool.

Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater
Adrian Bridgwater is a technology journalist with three decades of press experience. Primarily he works as a news analysis writer dedicated to a software application development ‘beat’; but, in a fluid media world, he is also an analyst, technology evangelist and content consultant. As the previously narrow discipline of programming now extends across a wider transept of the enterprise IT landscape, his own editorial purview has also broadened. He has spent much of the last 10 years also focusing on open source, data analytics and intelligence, cloud computing, mobile devices and data management.
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