Standardize, Innovate, Disrupt and Expand Digital Business with Open APIs

Global enterprise is going through a disruption, wherein companies are trying to redefine their business models, create and sell differentiated products and services, engage customers and communities, and innovate and optimize to remain competitive.

"…CEOs were quick to recognize that there are significant challenges that are causing disruption across all aspects of their organization," Mark A. Goodburn, Global Head of Advisory at KPMG, told Forbes when discussing their research into growth in a more competitive environment.

This requires a hard and fresh look at the way enterprises run IT and operations. An open business approach is needed to fuel innovation, increase agility, reduce business risk and improve customer satisfaction.

In order to accomplish these goals, companies must break boundaries to work with customers, partners, communities, and even competitors to create a thriving ecosystem. The following are the key areas of focus to drive next-generation integration and Application Program Interface (API) strategy, and point-to-point (or edge) data integration:

Digital business models enabled by Open API

New business models are going beyond the core services. Organizations are starting to provide value-added services—such as loyalty and rewards, service brokerage (i.e., for lending, travel, and insurance), and personal advisory services (such as mobile wallets). Most of the e-payment and e-commerce vendors are providing APIs to enable innovative business models.

To succeed in open API economy, enterprise IT architects need to play a larger role in designing an infrastructure blueprint that enables a digital ecosystem, enabling IT systems to interact with others and investment in services firms, retail and corporate customers, IT software and services providers, telecom and networking providers, data providers, industry utilities, regulators, and other entities that collectively deliver value.

Differentiated product and value-added services delivered through Open API

Rolling out differentiated products and value-added services across business segments requires a strong open API ecosystem.

Organizations have started to expose APIs for various core processes, such as account opening/onboarding, information (consolidated account, reconciliation and transaction information), foreign exchange (quotes and execution) and others.

Companies have also started to provide value added services using open API platforms to increase stickiness and loyalty. API marketplaces are emerging across vendor, partner and enterprise ecosystems. These are essentially developer portals to discover, access, test, and sign up to web APIs for new web or mobile applications. An effective revenue model is emerging by hosting the developer portal functionality on behalf of the API provider.

There are mainly four types of app stores emerging:

  1. Public app stores
  2. Vendor app stores are either cloud-based or on-premises, and are sponsored and branded by a technology vendor to enable licensed customers to discover and download apps. Two distinct models are communal and crowd-sourced.
  3. Enterprise app stores for employees provide three types of apps—enterprise-specific, business-specific, and third-party consumer apps.
  4. Enterprise app stores for customers are usually provided by organizations that have deployed public web APIs, and Software Development Kits (SDKs) for third-party developers to custom-build apps.

Customer and community engagement, using Open API

In an era of hyper communication and social networking. Enterprises need to make sure they engage with their customer community-at-large in effective way, using customers as part of the development, innovation, decision-making and feedback process. Open API platforms are enabling engagement of customers and communities to engage and co-innovate. For example:

  • Citizen development—Budget shortages and a lack of resources often impedes rapid IT response. Citizen development is an effective way to engage outside the IT organization for application development.
  • Internal and external hackathons—More and more enterprises are using external hackathons to drive location or context-specific solutions and ideas across sales, marketing and customer services. Internal hackathons fuel innovation at workplace, encouraging developers to think differently and more deeply about digitally enabled business opportunities. Hackathons are becoming a leading forum for employees, product vendors, IT service providers, IT, community developers and other third-party service providers to come together, engage and innovate.
  • Crowdsourcing for open business—A large bank has used crowdsourcing as a cornerstone of its Store initiative. These crowdsourcing activities generate ideas that are increasingly selected through voting by participants, with the final selection made and developed by the organization's employees.

Continuous innovation, optimization and agility, driven by API

While some institutions point to agile development as a means to achieve faster reaction times to the customer and the business, to be truly transformational, agile software development needs to be combined with an architecture and governance model that can accommodate dynamic change. There are efforts, such as the open business project or open-source business platforms being built to drive innovation and agility.

API governance and security

While the API economy is proliferating, it is becoming important to govern the API ecosystem, which involve setting and enforcing policies for their definition, design, and usage by applications. With adoption of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), and growing importance of mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT), API management is essential in a digital business environment.

Open API enabled development is the future. The quicker enterprises understand that, the better it is for them to standardize, innovate, disrupt, and expand business in this progressive digital economy.

For more information on how we can help, visit our Enterprise Business Integration and API Management sites.

About the Author: Abhi Chatterjee