Pitney Bowes: How APIs Boost Development Speed
Producing new apps that tap into Pitney Bowes' wealth of data is a key part of the company's "commerce cloud"—its cloud platform that provides a range of solutions, analytics, and APIs.
But it was a slow, laborious, and costly process before the Stamford, Conn.-based company implemented an API management platform, said senior vice president of technology and commerce James Fairweather. The act of connecting apps to back-end systems involved a drawn-out integration process that had to be repeated over and over, he said.
“By building a common way to integrate applications to our back office, we’ve dramatically accelerated the speed to market and lowered the investment per product,” Fairweather said. “We had programs that would have taken 18 months to get to market. It’s four or five months now.”
Just getting internal developers up and running has sped up dramatically, he added. With an API management platform in place, no longer do they have to deal with figuring out installations or interfaces.
“There’s a clean site, internal developers go to that site, they get provisioned against a capability, and they start consuming it,” he said. “We manage it in one place, with excellence across all products.
“It’s a huge acceleration for us.”
A less tangible effect that APIs and implementing API management have involves the way partners view Pitney Bowes’ technology competency. Partners are a key part of the company’s strategy—and enable Pitney Bowes APIs to be used in ways never imagined within the corporate walls, Fairweather said.
Without API management, however, integration issues again became a challenge, because very specific domain expertise was required to organize and respond to partner requirements—and all of this takes time, Fairweather said. It painted a picture of Pitney Bowes as a “digital laggard.”
“By having APIs in place, you’re having a conversation about the technology and solving the problem much faster with partners,” Fairweather said. “They see you as a digital leader.”