The ways we interact with customers and conduct business are changing, emphasizing digital engagement and seamless, multichannel processes. In line with this change, IT teams face increasing demands to accomplish more with less, and to do so faster.
2020’s global crisis underlined these cross-industry challenges, forcing companies—particularly IT teams—to collaborate and innovate to survive.
Now more than ever, organizations need to stay nimble to change and build agility within their companies to be ready for future challenges and opportunities.
Across industries, there’s a unified answer for acquiring this agility: APIs. Throughout the pandemic, companies with an API-led infrastructure in place held the advantage in their ability to access data from multiple sources within a modular system and adapt to shifts in the nature of customer demand.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at how exactly APIs are digitally transforming the business world with the future in mind—and what your business can do to harness the power of API-led integration to prepare for potential crises ahead.
The operational demands of digital transformation
IT teams have historically struggled with speed of delivery and data integration. The pandemic only exacerbated these operational challenges: according to MuleSoft’s 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report, only 37% of surveyed organizations declared that IT met all project demands in 2020.
Many organizations also pull the bulk of their data from silos, isolated data sources in their company that make it difficult to integrate end-user experiences across all channels, a critical capacity that only 18% of organizations claim to currently have. Reliance on legacy systems and point-to-point integration can further compromise a company’s ability to be technically agile in a crisis and make changes to existing IT infrastructure.
It’s also costly. On average, 85% of IT spend funnels into non-cloud technology and other legacy systems; the average enterprise spends $3.5 million annually on IT labor for custom integration projects. Companies that don’t launch digital transformation right now face financial consequences, and industries know this: 77% of survey respondents in the Connectivity Report claimed that failure to digitally transform will impact their revenue in 2021 and 2022.
When the pandemic began, it underlined the digital divide between agile, API-enabled organizations and those that had yet to digitally transform to meet the moment. These companies used cross-silo system data landscapes to enable project teams, promote an organizational culture of collaboration, and respond to shifting customer and employee demands. Companies at the start of digital transformation, on the other hand, were forced to innovate within the constraints of their existing legacy platforms and data silos. In both cases, this recent global crisis revealed the twin imperative of agility and real-time data.
API-led strategies and innovation
Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow enterprises to be technically nimble in their ability to make data available and consumable in real-time. In financial services alone, organizations leveraging APIs experience increased productivity (60%), self-service (47%), and increased innovation (47%).
The power of APIs lies in their reusability and the connectivity that sits behind them. API-led infrastructure enables a unified, systematic data landscape with a clear access and governance model. It also allows developers to reconfigure system components instead of redeveloping them entirely or creating costly custom builds. Given that, in general, 80% of IT projects require the same 20% of data, this notion of reuse is essential for project efficiency and speed of delivery.
APIs also allow internal and external ecosystems to work together by making data accessible and usable across an organization. This is why the first step in implementing API-led integration has to do with a company’s data access level—giving users the same access to the same data. In many cases, this requires replacement of an ERP system with a foundational API layer that consists of core reusable processes all future projects can utilize.
An established API strategy is thus invaluable for driving speed and efficiency in completing projects, given its support of reconfigurable system architecture and delivery of rapid, real-time information to teams. Yet to ensure security and reusability, a company’s API strategy should be synonymous with its data strategy; application networks, after all, provide a framework for how to think about the data and functionality you need to unlock at any stage of development in a consistent, repeatable manner.
Tools for future-proofing
To be future-ready in today’s world is to have the ability to sense and react to changes of any scale, whether those changes are the result of a supply chain disruption, financial crisis, or a global pandemic. Every CIO and CEO should thus have a post-COVID assessment in place to regularly inspect the capability of their IT landscape to react to such changes. In transitioning to a primarily digital business strategy, companies across industries can also use APIs to maximize system flexibility and adaptability.
API-based platforms like MuleSoft offer robust solutions for the kind of digital transformation businesses need right now—one that eliminates data silos, emphasizes cloud-based architecture, and allows for connectivity and reusability. MuleSoft, in particular, brings integration, connectivity, and API management in a single, unified platform. As an industry leader in integration technology, MuleSoft also offers valuable thought leadership on API-led thinking and reusability.
- Kurt Anderson