Around the world, companies have been faced with unforeseen interruptions to their businesses and operations as the impact of COVID-19 disrupts supply and demand.
One way that some businesses have been able to minimise repercussions to their operations is by tapping into the power of APIs to deploy rapid solutions and pivot operations.
Unfortunately however, many organisations, which are desperately striving to capture the true value of APIs are failing to achieve their objectives due to a range of roadblocks.
According to MuleSoft’s Connectivity Benchmark Report 2020, integration issues are at the core of these roadblocks.
The average organisation has 900 applications though only 28 per cent of these are currently integrated, leaving a majority of these applications trapped in siloes.
Integration challenges vary from organisation to organisation and can be a cause of workplace culture, technological barriers or a strategic fault.
Whatever it may be, failure to address these challenges will ultimately lead to loss of revenue, business inefficiencies and repercussions to customer experience.
In order to work towards the solution during this challenging period for businesses, leaders must shift their mindset and find a harmonious balance between short-term goals and long-term strategic thinking.
One way to strike this balance is to employ APIs to support critical demands for digital capabilities both in the immediate and medium-terms.
Reimagine and optimise your staff and customer journey
While working to tight deadlines and timeframes, it remains important to establish a strategic plan. The first step in developing an API strategy is to delve deep into understanding customers and operations.
Begin by establishing a view of both front and back-end processes, which will help to effectively inform strategic reasoning and development.
Creating a roadmap of staff and customers’ journeys will help to identify pain points along the path and pinpoint opportunities for improvement.
Developing this overview then enables IT teams to understand where best to apply APIs in order to generate the most value and develop projects that have higher rates of reusability.
Establish a top-down API strategy
In MuleSoft’s report, a majority (89%) of organisations surveyed claimed to have some form of an API strategy in place. As with any strategy, the effectiveness of these will vary.
However, the report also found that strategies mandated by those at the leadership level, drive the highest rates of productivity and innovation and are able to expand integration skills to teams outside of IT.
Additionally, organisations with a top-down API strategy – that is, those that are enforced and managed by leadership teams – are 67% more productive than those with a bottom-up strategy.
This approach encourages conversations between business and IT, enabling the wider organisation to gain an understanding of how APIs can benefit the business as a whole, leading to greater levels of engagement and collaboration throughout the company.
Embrace integration for all
Fostering a culture in the workplace that enables everyone across a range of departments to be involved and engaged in the process of integration, while fostering their understanding of APIs has two-fold benefits.
On an individual level, creating a workplace that democratises integration inspires engagement as people outside of IT are provided with the opportunity to upskill and broaden their knowledge and skill set.
From an organisational standpoint, inclusive integration culture will undoubtedly lead to increased levels of collaboration, creativity and innovation, and encourages the breakdown of siloes that help to foster a culture of interdepartmental teamwork.
By encouraging IT teams to work with colleagues across departments, they are able to gain a more holistic view of how different specialists and areas of the organisations work with systems and applications, which ultimately benefits the outcomes of the projects they deliver.
When integration and APIs come together, organisations reap the benefits by seeing increased productivity, innovation, revenue, collaboration and employee engagement.
IT leaders who wisely invest in building a culture of inclusive integration and take it upon themselves to lead this charge are rewarded with a multitude of business benefits, the most significant of which are time and cost efficiencies.
While it may seem insurmountable to begin to tackle the brave new world of APIs and integration, particularly in these chaotic times, a step-by-step approach to implementing an effective API strategy is easily achieved by organisations of all shapes and sizes with the right mindset and support from visionary leaders.
Marc Caltabiano is the Vice President – Australia and New Zealand at MuleSoft.