It is already well known that integration has become a key determinant on who leads and who lags in today’s global economy. Businesses with cutting-edge integration strategies have raised the bar with faster project delivery, lower operational costs, and new revenue systems. As a result, they are quickly leaving more traditional players in the dust.
Despite its growing importance, organizations still struggle to achieve a truly ‘integrated state’. The average business transaction now crosses 35 different back-end systems. This is generating more data than ever before and the traditional (point-to-point) approach to enterprise application integration is no longer sufficient.
The right integration strategy allows organizations to cut complexity and drive tangible business value by quickly connecting new information and operationalizing it across the entire enterprise.
With that said, IT project demands will increase by 32% this year, but despite this growth, most of the IT teams will see a budget increase of less than 10%, which prevents IT from focusing on innovation.
What’s more, this comes at a time when customer demands are changing. To remain competitive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, companies now must implement a multitude of technologies such as SaaS applications, blockchain, AI, cloud and much more.
The more digital transformation initiatives that need to be implemented, the wider the delivery gap gets and it’s a balance most organizations still struggle to find.
To combat these challenges, many businesses are beginning to rally their organizations behind an API-led integration strategy.
But what is API-led?
API-led connectivity is a methodical way to connect data to applications through reusable and purposeful APIs. These APIs are developed to play a specific role in unlocking data from Systems, composing data into Processes, or delivering an Experience.
These services, created for reuse, dramatically improve developer’s productivity and project quality. With that impact, IT’s focus shifts from ‘keeping the lights on’ to innovating and this creates opportunities to improve project speed, security, and cost reduction. It also unlocks business value, extra revenue, and provides faster time to market.
When the entire organization adopts what is known as API-led, everyone in the business is empowered to access their best capabilities in delivering applications and projects through discovery, self-service, and reuse.
With this approach, the Central IT team is devoted to producing reusable assets, and in the process, they ‘unlock’ key systems, including legacy applications, data sources, and SaaS apps.
Other teams can then reuse these API assets and compose process-level information. Then app developers can discover and self-serve on all these reusable assets, creating the experience layer of APIs and ultimately the end-application. This new approach brings agility and productivity to the next level.
The APIs used in the API-led approach to connectivity fall into 3 categories:
- System APIs – these usually access the core systems of record and provide a means of insulating the user from the complexity or any changes to the underlying systems.
- Process APIs – these interact with and shape data within a single system or across systems and are created here without dependence on the source systems from which that data originates, as well as the target channels through which that data is delivered.
- Experience APIs – are the means by which data can be reconfigured so that it is most easily consumed by its intended audience. An Experience API is usually created with API-first design principles where the API is designed for the specific user experience in mind.
All these APIs in one place form an “application network” of services to be consumed, regardless of their underlying implementations. That network allows other consumers from other parts of the business to come in, discover and use those assets.
One of the most important things to notice when talking about API-led is that with that approach of delivering IT projects, you are not only on time and budget with your first project, but you have built the reusable assets that will save your company time and money, you created an infrastructure which is designed for change, you have built in visibility, compliance and governance and, most importantly, you’ve met the needs of the business, which is long-term sustained agility.
As a result of the above-mentioned, API-led not only enables you to move fast on your first project but then actually accelerate further from your second project onwards. All of this allows you to spend more time on innovating and per reports leads to delivering projects 3-5x faster compared to legacy or homegrown integration solutions, while also increasing team productivity by 300%.