“If the business continues to rely on central IT for every project, organisations risk falling behind competitors and agile startups.”
Investing in digital transformation is at the top of the agenda for most organisations. From increasing operational efficiency to improving customer experience, the goals are clear, writes Paul Crerand, director of solution consulting, office of the CTO, EMEA, at MuleSoft.
However, many organisations are being held back by unforeseen integration challenges, which are stalling digital transformation initiatives. According to recent research, a concerning 84 percent of respondents admitted that integration challenges were slowing digital transformation progress, with almost as many citing data silos as creating business challenges.
Exacerbating the problem further is the growing business demands on IT departments. IT leaders are expecting to deliver 32 percent more projects this year, and budgets are failing to rise in-line with these demands. When coupled with the fact that only 36 percent of IT leaders completed all projects requested of them last year, it’s a bleak picture for the future of digital transformation.
The pressure on IT teams to deliver more, faster is unprecedented and growing worse. The disparity between what the business expects of IT and what is actually possible to deliver is growing—widening the IT delivery gap. To keep pace with project demands and initiate much-needed change, IT needs to transform from a tactical function to a business accelerator.
Leaving Data Silos Behind
In the race to digitally transform, organisations are looking to make improvements across the entire business, from solutions that can help them understand their customers better to providing differentiated experiences across channels in real time. As a result, businesses are increasingly investing in new and emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data. However, many organisations still rely heavily on legacy systems and infrastructure, and integrating new technology with these is the most frequently reported challenge to digital transformation.
In order to create more business value, data silos must be eliminated by IT; this requires seamlessly integrating all applications, data sources and devices—regardless of whether they were built in 2019 or 1979. If successful, IT will be able to empower all areas of a business to quickly extract data-driven insights that can in turn drive innovation, personalised customer experiences and new, unexplored revenue channels. IT teams have a major opportunity to set businesses up for lasting success and are increasingly turning to API strategies for support.
APIs in Action
If the business continues to rely on central IT for every project, organisations risk falling behind competitors and agile startups. Instead, lines of business need to view IT not just as a tactical function but as a strategic business partner that empowers them to self serve and champion innovation. For this vision to become a reality, IT needs to implement API strategies that package up existing data and capabilities as discoverable and reusable assets. By creating reusable assets, IT enables the wider business to increase overall delivery speed and capacity for IT projects.
An example of this approach working in action is the global communications satellite company, SES. With ambitions to transition from a wholesale infrastructure provider to an end-to-end service provider for customers, SES built reusable APIs that expose key systems, applications and data sources. The next step was to build a network of reusable components, easing the burden and pressure on IT teams to create every new project from scratch. The result? SES improved its customer experience offerings by creating a unified customer portal that provides insights and updates on satellite traffic patterns and more.
Another example is global sports footwear and apparel company ASICS, which had plans to unify seven global brands onto one eCommerce platform in order to create a more seamless customer experience. Once again, reusable APIs were central to achieving this; ASICS plugged the APIs into its application network to allow its new platform to access customer information, order status, real-time inventory and pricing—all data that had previously been trapped in silos. As a result, ASICS was able to harness reusable components to cut down development time.
For organisations to have a successful digital transformation, an API strategy is critical. From unlocking valuable data to speeding up development time, APIs are the humble heroes of the digital era. Those already experimenting with APIs are already feeling the benefits. For example, research has shown that 53 percent of businesses that have used APIs cite them as increasing productivity, and 29 percent claim they experienced revenue growth as a direct result of API use. When treated as discoverable and reusable products that live beyond one project, APIs help lay a flexible foundation for continuous change.
Building Blocks for Change
Digital transformation is no longer just an IT initiative. It has evolved into a business-wide strategy. As a result, IT is growing to be more than just a ‘part’, and is now proving to be a critical business partner in creating an application network that integrates every application, data source and device via APIs. With this flexible foundation in place, IT has the power to change the way organisations operate and win.