It's time to consider the business impact of APIs - Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay A platform approach to APIs creates a digital core to flexible business outcome.

APIs need to be discussed in terms of business impact. The API (application programming interface) has been considered a pure technology topic for too long. But with the need to digitise core business operations and deal with rising security threats, business and technology leaders must elevate APIs to strategic discussions.

Meanwhile, organisations must end the hidgepodge of APIs connecting their point solutions. They must adopt a modern integrated platform approach to APIs that will deliver business optimisation and improve the customer experience.

Why APIs are important

Organisations are having to deal with disruption. The impact from one or more of war, recession and inflation is putting pressure on every business. APIs are a central pillar of three trends: digital transformation, improving data access and enhancing the customer experience. This was one of the findings from the research commissioned with research firm Vanson Bourne. Understanding how to leverage APIs, or even better an integrated API platform can help mitigate some of the issues leaders face.

In the study, 58% of business technology leaders reported they were engaged with driving their organisations’ digital transformation. Furthermore, half of those surveyed were heading up projects to increase the use of data for business insight. Just under half (49%) were delivering technology-led improvements to the customer experience. However, these three demands will not be met if developers are hindered in their ability to innovate through poor API integration.

The importance of an API Strategy

APIs, therefore, can have a big impact on the organisation. They can enable the CIO and their team to create a great customer experience and improve the organisation’s operations. This can, in turn, benefit colleagues with a better working environment.  With infinite use cases across every function enterprises undergoing significant change must approach APIs with a strategic vision.

It is, therefore, concerning that 74% of organisations have not fully rolled out an API strategy. A symptom of this is that 95% are experiencing challenges with their customer identity access management (CIAM) platform. The research indicates that enterprises are not identifying the business objectives they want to achieve with APIs.

APIs first emerged as a developer tool to solve technical integration problems. It was a technology understood by developers for the IT department. However, the wider importance to business was rarely considered, which meant opportunities were missed.

The good news is that, as organisations embrace digitisation to deal with the economic pressure on the business, the benefits of APIs are better understood. Our survey found that 90% of enterprises in the UK and Ireland believe their developers would be better placed to innovate if the user experience was more connected. With 84% believe building, managing, and integrating APIs should be treated as one process rather than isolated aspects of the API lifecycle.

Is any Platform the solution?

Organisations embracing the opportunity offered by APIs are adopting a platform approach. Over 80% of the business technology leaders surveyed said the technology they currently use to build, manage and integrate APIs needs to be completely overhauled or has extensive room for modernisation.

Among executives surveyed, 45% say their organisations want to increase the speed that new digital products and services go to market. 48% want to enable more innovation. 42% have increased security requirements. As the economic ecosystem becomes increasingly connected, 80% of these businesses use or plan to use a single platform for employees, partners and suppliers.

But organisations are struggling. Over half (53%) face challenges in re-using existing APIs in new projects or business services. Existing API platforms are often hard to use and hinder efforts to build, integrate and manage APIs, according to 48% of business technology leaders. A similar number (47%) find that existing platforms limit the ability to customise APIs or scale – two key demands of the increasingly digital business environment.

A modern platform approach to APIs enables enterprises to optimise business processes, data flows, and customer services and increase security. The security of APIs is, unsurprisingly, highly important to transformation leaders. 78% said their organisation uses an identity and access management (IAM) platform, and 67% use a CIAM platform.

Digital core

The central problem is that not all APIs are equal. When an organisation defines an API, there must be a planned and clear approach to what the business wants to achieve with it. This means having an agreed set of metrics between business lines and the IT department to measure and know the role of every API. This will allow the business to define which APIs can be monetised.

For example, a major Spanish hotel chain is providing services to the banking sector as a result of identifying which of its APIs can be monetised. At present, however, most enterprises cannot monetise the full range of APIs within their estate because they don’t have the right levels of metrics and governance in place.

APIs and integrated developer platforms, when managed effectively, become the digital core of the business, and as anybody that does yoga or pilates knows, a strong core makes every other form of exercise easier and more rewarding. A strong core enables other parts of the body to be more effective. A good digital core does the same for the organisation, adding power to business processes, employees, digital customer services and the products the business is known for.

Put an API platform at the core of your business

APIs, therefore, have the potential to create a big impact on the business and have to be considered in terms of this impact. Organisations looking to digitise, whether to deal with pressure points or meet the demands of their customers, have to discuss APIs not as a technology but as a method of delivering a business outcome. A platform approach enables a more secure, efficient, and innovative digital business, one that has a digital core and monetisation opportunities.

WSO2 LogoFounded in 2005, WSO2 is one of the world’s best open source integration vendors, helping digitally driven organisations become integration agile. WSO2 is a global organisation with offices in Europe, the Americas, Sri Lanka and Australia.

WSO2 solutions give enterprises the flexibility to deploy applications and services on-premises, on private or public clouds, or in hybrid environments and easily migrate between them as needed. All of the products are pre-integrated allowing enterprises to focus on value-added services and get to market faster.


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