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Three ways to optimise your API strategy for enterprise success

"Exposing APIs via a centralised integration platform fosters a culture of reuse..."

The first decade of the millennium was all about the rapid expansion of the world wide web. The next ten years saw major progress in mobile technology. In the 2020s, winners and losers will increasingly be defined by how well they can deliver seamless digital experiences. After spending so much time in front of their screens, both consumers and employees have sky-high expectations for what digital experiences can and should deliver. Whether organisations can meet those standards is another matter. Central to their efforts will be the streamlined integration of applications, data, and devices through API strategy. If implemented effectively, these strategies create secure, consumable, and reusable integrations that enable increased automation and empowerment of teams across the business, to drive business agility and faster innovation.

Here are three ways organisations can optimise their API strategy to achieve better business outcomes.

1) Create a composable business built on reusability

Research shows that 77% of IT leaders believe a failure to complete digital transformation initiatives will impact revenues over the coming year, but just over a third (37%) were able to complete all of their projects in the previous 12 months. The challenge is that IT is increasingly finding itself as a bottleneck to innovation. While the need to accelerate digital transformation continues to increase, IT still only has finite resources at its disposal, so it’s increasingly difficult to keep up with demand.

See also: For telcos, going cloud-native can be liberating

To alleviate this bottleneck, IT leaders must help their organisation become a composable business, comprised of interchangeable digital building blocks that drive agility, speed, and resilience. In the context of creating new digital experiences, reusable APIs are a great way to achieve this. Exposing APIs via a centralised integration platform enables organisations to foster a culture of reuse, by creating a mindset among the workforce that “there’s an API for that”. This accelerates innovation, because teams don’t need to start projects from scratch if capabilities have already been created elsewhere.

2) Empower business users to innovate for themselves

Research found that the volume of digital initiatives doubled during the pandemic, even as IT teams were pulled away from these transformation projects to support urgent operational requirements. This added to the already significant burden IT is under as it strives to keep up with the business. IT leaders can help to reduce the pressure by empowering business users to take some responsibility for IT project delivery through reusable APIs.

Implementing low- and no-code tools as part of an API strategy can enable businesses to encourage the emergence of business technologists – employees outside of the IT department who work on digital projects. This approach enables business users to simply drag-and-drop data and capabilities to create new integrated experiences. Nearly 90% of organisations agree that if business users could do this in a secure way it would improve business outcomes, which is why so many are developing plans to allow business technologists to integrate apps and data sources through APIs.

The result of these efforts is that projects can be delivered more quickly, accelerating time-to-value and innovation-fuelled growth. In the process, organisations can free-up IT to focus more of its time on complex projects that require their specialist skills. It’s no coincidence that Gartner is predicting the vast majority of tech products and services will be built by non-IT professionals in a few years’ time.

3) Your API strategy can help deliver a 360-degree customer view

We are in the midst of a data explosion. According to IDC, over 64 zettabytes (ZB) of data was created in 2020, and that figure is predicted to grow at a rate of 23% up to 2025. Yet more data doesn’t mean it’s easier for business and IT teams to gain the insights they need to create better user experiences. Proprietary systems, data silos, and IT complexity all stand in the way of their ability to deliver the integrated digital experiences their users and customers are demanding.

To overcome these challenges, organisations need the ability to manage their data end‐to‐end, all the way from ingestion and integration through to analytics and the critical decisions it drives. This can only be achieved if they find a way to break down the silos between their data and unite it into a single source of truth. Rather than moving data between systems, the best way to achieve this is through a centralised integration platform, where APIs provide access to data wherever it resides. By making these APIs easily consumable and reusable, teams across the business can quickly and easily unlock a 360-degree view of every customer, to enable more informed decision making and drive more personalised experiences.

By optimising their API strategies in these three key ways, organisations will be in a much stronger position to maximise the opportunities they create by taking a more strategic, long-term approach to integration. This will be essential to their ability to thrive in a post-pandemic era characterised by intense competition and continually rising customer and user expectations.

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