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Make Your Customers Digital Disruptors, not Digitally Disrupted

May 21, 2014

In Accenture’s Technology Vision for 2014 report, the consulting giant cites six major technology trends, all tied to the proliferation of digital experiences as the model for business transformation.  Accenture found that enterprises have embraced technology more than ever to serve consumers, employees, and business partners and create business efficiencies through internal process automation.

These same technologies are catalysts to create new markets, new products, and new areas of growth and revenue. Businesses that harness the power of these technologies become digital disruptors in their industries, relegating their competitors to the unenviable position of the digitally disrupted.

APIs and big data form the fabric of a digital transformation, enabling enterprises to capture new opportunities, create business efficiencies, extend competitive advantages, and ultimately drive profitability.  

Five of the six trends identified by Accenture in this report are core to what Apigee delivers (the sixth we consider to be closely aligned with Apigee’s offerings).* 


Trend 1 - Digital-physical blur: Extending intelligence to the edge

What’s emerging is more than just an Internet of Things—it’s a new layer of connected intelligence that augments the actions of individuals, automates processes, and incorporates digitally empowered machines into our lives, increasing our insight into and control over the tangible world.

The Apigee value

APIs enable “connectedness with intelligence,” as they not only enable interaction and reaction based on the communication, but also provide coherent experiences within the enterprise, across customers and partners, and across connected devices. Apigee makes this possible with Apigee Edge core capabilities, including API Services with API Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) and Analytics Services with app performance monitoring.

Bechtel, the leading engineering and construction firm, is a visionary in this space. This Apigee customer embraced digital comprehensively throughout its operations. The growing demand for information, delivered securely anytime, anywhere, on any device to Bechtel’s construction engineers and managers, has stimulated the use of APIs to expose information securely to employees and partners through over 30 purpose-built apps.

These apps are now core to the Bechtel operational model and, as a result, the APIs that drive these apps have become critical to Bechtel’s strategy for meeting and exceeding industrial business needs globally.  


Trend 2 - From workforce to crowdsource: The rise of the borderless enterprise

Cloud, social, and collaboration technologies now enable organizations to tap into vast pools of resources across the world. Channeling these efforts to achieve business goals is a challenge, but the opportunity is enormous: every business has access to an immense, agile workforce.

The Apigee value

Apigee Exchange is an on-demand infrastructure for providing back-end services for digital marketplaces. There are common requirements in each marketplace: a product or service description, a rating and transparency system to enable community policing, a transactional system to enable billing and settlement, and analytics to understand the behavior of the marketplace (this is required in different forms for buyers, sellers, and the marketplace operator). Apigee Exchange is closely aligned with this trend and can be the foundational technology that enables this borderless enterprise.


Trend 3 - The data supply chain: Putting information into circulation

To truly unlock value, enterprises must start treating data as if it were traveling along a supply chain, enabling it to flow easily and usefully through the entire organization—and eventually throughout each company’s ecosystem of partners.

The Apigee value

Envisioning data this way evokes images of information streams flowing around and among enterprises. The fluidity of data in this supply chain depends on how easy it is to access and its performance (speed and routing). At the foundational level, data supply chains are built with APIs, which enable consumption of silos of data.

The activity in these chains represents business value creating a requirement for both technical/operational and business/strategic analytics. Mapping these supply chains, optimizing them to improve enterprise and partner business processes, and creating new insights by leveraging APIs are critical use cases for Apigee’s core products, Apigee Edge and Apigee Insights.

The World Bank is an Apigee customer that has implemented Apigee Edge to create a true data supply chain with free access to the world's most comprehensive collection of economic and development information. The World Bank provides access to time-series data, projects data, and finances data via APIs to app developers and data consumers around the world. With data series that can go back 50 years, more than 8,000 indicators, a wealth of projects information, as well as data on World Bank loans, credits, and financial statements, they enable policy makers, researchers, and the general public to track the impact of policies, develop new solutions, drive better decisions, and measure improvements.


Trend 4 - Harnessing hyperscale: Hardware is back (and never really went away)

Hardware matters more than ever for transforming enterprises into digital businesses. Access to unlimited computing power that can be turned on and off as needed is now critical to maintaining and scaling business operations.

The Apigee value

Enterprises moving from virtual infrastructure to cloud infrastructure (whether on-premises or in a public cloud) are driving the need for hyper-scale infrastructure to meet the demands of business anywhere, anytime. This trend requires cloud computing APIs and SDN (software-defined networking).  Both are core capabilities of Apigee Edge.

Apigee customers including kt Corp., Equinix, and AT&T offer their enterprise and individual customers this hyperscale Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Equinix, the data center giant and global leader in building dynamic Internet exchanges, offers a cloud ecosystem that gives businesses the ability to choose from the best combination of cloud infrastructure, platform, and software service providers.  

APIs built on Apigee rapidly expose, allocate, monitor, and provision virtual circuits in near real time, automated end-to-end from the Equinix Cloud Exchange to any service provider. Equinix’s telecom customers, as well as those in a variety of verticals including healthcare, advertising and financial services, must address concerns about data and where it resides. Businesses in these sectors can rise or fall on a lost or saved millisecond.  


Trend 5 - The business of applications: Software as a core competency in a digital world

Organizations are rapidly moving from monolithic enterprise applications to purpose-built apps. As large enterprises push for greater IT agility, there is a sharp shift toward simpler, more modular, and more custom apps. Customers and employees are looking for consumer-grade experiences everywhere.

The Apigee value

Consumption of any kind of business service—for customers, partners or employees—now occurs through apps, and apps are becoming critical for enterprise business operations. Tying together the digital-physical blur and data supply chains trends, the business of applications trend is also core to Apigee Edge.

In addition to enabling secure access to enterprise resources, these apps require enterprise-grade infrastructure for operation, maintenance, and enabling zero-downtime upgrades. Apigee Edge and Apigee Insights let enterprises transact with internal employees and external customers and partners viaequin interactive and business-effective apps where and when needed.

Apigee customer Walgreens has seen a 6x increase in in-store purchases as a result of customers using their apps. This 110-year-old company has taken its business to where its customers are, beyond the brick and mortar stores, through new channels. Through its API-defined ecosystem, Walgreens enables internal and external developers and partners to create apps that enable customers to send pictures to or request prescription refills from a nearby store.


Trend 6 - Architecting resilience: “Built to survive failure” becomes the mantra of the nonstop business

As organizations migrate toward digital, every aspect of their businesses are becoming increasingly interconnected and automated. Further, in natively digital businesses, the digital channel may be the only channel. In this context, resilience—the ability of IT systems to maintain wholly acceptable levels of operational performance during planned and unplanned disturbances—is increasingly important to revenue and brand reputation.

The Apigee value

Resilience requires an underlying hyperscale infrastructure. It also requires a set of practices and the assumption that the underlying computing infrastructure is susceptible to random failure. As a result, reliability and process visibility must be layered on top of this infrastructure. Apigee Edge Analytics Services including App Performance Monitoring provide enterprises with the information and operational visibility needed to constantly monitor and predict any breakdowns in API-delivered apps and business functions.

Any network failure in an operation as large as AT&T’s could have a significant effect on the company’s bottom line. Using hyperscale infrastructure in its own cloud operations, AT&T is innovating with employees and partners to constantly improve the resiliency of its systems.  Leveraging Apigee Edge as AT&T scales its operations to meet the demands of millions of subscribers and customers, the telecom giant  is designing resiliency into all of its business operations.

APIs and big data are core to or tightly aligned with the six critical trends detailed above. The Apigee platform for digital business has been the foundational technology for large and small enterprises as they innovate and transform themselves into digital disruptors, and protect themselves from becoming the digitally disrupted.

*Accenture is an Apigee investor and a member of our advisory board.


Image sources (in order of appearance): Accenture, Apple, Equinix, Walgreens


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