digital transformation

Telia Company: Reaching New Heights in Digitization with Apigee

Editor's note: Today we hear from Remco Jansen, Telia Company’s API program manager who is responsible for API strategy and execution. Learn how this leading Stockholm-based telco uses APIs and API management to improve customer experience, partner connections, and organizational agility. 

We at Telia Company have  been working with APIs for a long time. Like many technology companies, we have thousands of APIs in use in our organization, but recently we decided to actively pursue a strategy to exploit the full range of possibilities with restful APIs—and also to deploy Apigee.

Three pillars for API success

When we decided to implement the Apigee API management platform for specific use cases, we soon realized that we needed to have a more clear API strategy to really leverage the technology. We had been building a lot of point-to-point integrations and also doing integration through an enterprise service bus, and we knew that this model was not going to be sustainable.

The driver for adopting the API gateway came from an architectural standpoint: we needed to have a way of decoupling back-end services from consumer services, but also needed to introduce common interfaces across the group—even when the back-end services were different across several regions.

We built our strategy on three pillars: customers, partners, and organizational agility. Our larger enterprise customers in particular expect us to have APIs to integrate their systems with ours. APIs also help us to improve the omnichannel experience for our customers, giving them the same high-quality experience, irrespective whether they visit our stores, go to our website, or use our mobile apps.

Further, we see APIs as a key enabler for collaboration with partners and aim to make our APIs region-agnostic to be even more relevant across our footprint.

And finally, we want to increase the agility in our organization by leveraging APIs so that it becomes easier and more cost efficient to develop new solutions and make changes to existing ones.

Innovating connected services

The results we’ve seen have been amazing; what can be done with a simple function has enabled some terrific use cases! I love APIs because they enable new unpredictable solutions to be created. The power of APIs is that you never know what people are going to build on top of them. That idea is clearly illustrated by our flagship use case, the Telia Zone service, which is a very simple API built on Apigee that uses the information about devices connected on a given Wi-Fi network with a Telia broadband connection.

Telia Zone now enables all kinds of home services to users, like smart doors, thermostats, ID services and logins, security, music, home automation, karaoke, and much more—all based on one simple API. About 900,000 households in Sweden have Telia Zone boxes, and soon we’ll be rolling it out in other countries, too.

Scaling for success

Over the last year we’ve seen immense growth in our API program. We’re exposing around 50 APIs and went from almost zero calls to 34 million per month by the end of last year. Our next big area of focus for the API program is productization. We’re working on getting all of our divisions to have a product manager for APIs so that we can achieve more collaboration at the product level within the company.

We will soon launch a new developer portal that will combine our existing portals and provide a single portal for all our APIs. My expectation is that the portal will drive further internal conversations about reuse and productization of APIs. We’re already seeing that even without the portal we’re starting to identify cases where we can say to stakeholders, “You know we already have an API for that.” And that’s the tipping point that we’ve been waiting for. That’s when APIs really become powerful and start to drive agility, when you can reuse APIs for new cases and don’t have to keep solving the same problem.

When Culture Is a Cop-out

Digital transformation is hard. Imagine Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. That represents the challenge of digital transformation a few years ago. Today’s digital transformation "Atlases" aren’t just holding the globe—they’re juggling ten of them.   

Things like e-commerce and mobile apps—signs of digital sophistication just a few years ago—are now table stakes. The scope of transformation efforts has expanded to include cloud computing, machine learning, conversational interfaces and much more.

As enterprises wrangle with this growing complexity, they often look for inspiration — or simply to crib best practices—from large technology companies. Just last week, an intelligence technology leader at a Fortune 100 firm asked me, “How do we just do things the way Google (my employer) or Netflix does them?”

In this process, many enterprise executives come to realize that the differences between their businesses and the big technology leaders are not just about software, products or use cases—they’re about a holistic way of operating that can be so complex that it often gets tagged with the catch-all, not particularly meaningful label of “culture.”  

Read the full story in Forbes.

Landing page image credit: Je suis Eli (Flickr Creative Commons)

Digital Transformation: Executing on the Plan

In this series of blog posts, we’ve been delving into the common ingredients we’ve discovered in working with hundreds of enterprises on their digital transformation journeys. In the the previous post, we explored the key aspects of alignment. In the final post of this series, we’ll wrap up with a discussion about the important elements of execution.

As we said in the first post of this series, aspiration is easy in business, but execution is hard. Over the years, we’ve observed many companies that try to execute their digital transformation plans but encounter strong headwinds due to a lack of executive support, basic disagreements about goals, and other problems that crop up due to insufficient vision and alignment.

When we assess execution, we look at how effectively the business can build and scale available APIs. This encompasses the software development lifecycle (SDLC), the ability to attract and retain strong technical talent, and “self-service”—the ease with which an organization’s APIs can be consumed.

Software development lifecycle (SDLC)

If you attempt to deploy an API-first approach using old governance and waterfall methods, you won’t achieve the speed, innovation, and cost reduction goals that motivated the transformation in the first place. Executing in the digital world means maintaining leverage amid ever-changing customer preferences.

To accomplish this, leading companies build APIs using modern, agile, iterative methods. Test-driven and behavior-driven design, as well as a focus on automation, are all parts of an API-first approach. Your SDLC is tightly coupled with how you fund and measure project success—in fact, it is an expression of how projects are funded and what is valued (project forecasting accuracy prioritized over customer experience, for example). Therefore, maturity in this dimension is predicated on proper alignment in leadership, metrics, and funding.

Talent

Developers are a key link in the digital value chain; they translate the raw materials of a company’s data and functions into apps and digital experiences that create value for the business. An organization’s ability to attract and develop strong technical talent is among its most important digital competencies.

Leading companies often require API skills of all software developer roles, and a solid understanding of digital business—including the role of APIs—should be required of all business roles. The API program will only produce results if it is paired with agile governance and funding, so organizations should empower developers to adopt modern development best practices such as automation and DevOps.   

Talent retention is also crucial, especially as digital business skills have become more hotly coveted by employers. To keep developer engagement high and help teams produce impact, competitive enterprises establish communities of practice, including API evangelists and a developer portal to share updates, distribute best practices, and help developers more quickly and easily explore, test, and use APIs.

Self-service

Self-service is where concepts—such as API-first strategies and developer-driven value chains—meet reality. If the developers you engage (internal or external) are not able to quickly consume your APIs, the program will fail to deliver impact. The gold standard for TTFHW, or “Time to First ‘Hello World’,” is five minutes.

To meet this goal, enterprises frequently build developer portals. Fully-developed portals typically include API catalogs to help developers quickly find the resources they need; API keys, sample code, interactive documentation, and testing tools that let developers start using APIs immediately; and forums and blogs to foster community.

Next steps

Companies have always relied on one another to create business value: component suppliers feed manufacturers who feed distributors, and so on. But in the digital world, the complexity and fluidity of these relationships reach a new level.

Enterprises can extend their services with scale and speed that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. They can focus on their core strengths while leveraging resources from other ecosystem participants, creating richer, more valuable digital experiences than most companies have the resources to produce alone and spreading their businesses to new audiences and markets. The speed of change and the range of opportunities are dizzying—which is why it’s so easy for businesses to hit hurdles or chart the wrong course.

Though there is no single “correct” path to digital competitiveness, there are common dimensions that virtually all digitally sophisticated organizations share and common relationships among those dimensions, regardless of industry.

To chart next steps, businesses should understand not only how these dimensions currently manifest within their organization but also how the dimensions interrelate—how strength in one area, such as funding, may be a prerequisite to excellence in another, such as agile software development cycles. This perspective helps business leaders to prioritize which steps, among seemingly infinite options, will actually bring the company closer to its digital transformation goals.

To help organizations with this process, we launched Apigee Compass, an online tool to help businesses chart a path through their digital transformations. Apigee Compass curates and delivers the information we've gathered and the lessons we've learned from working with Walgreens, Pitney Bowes, Magazine Luiza, Experian, and hundreds of other companies. The interactive, self-service tool can be used by anyone to assess their organization's digital maturity and chart a path to digital success.

Once you’ve assessed your business with Apigee Compass, focus on the dimensions in which your organization is weakest. Use the recommendations to understand what other dimensions this weakness affects as well as the steps you can take to remedy this weakness and advance to the next level of digital capability.

For more on the topics covered in this series, check out the eBook, “The Digital Transformation Journey: Chart Your Path with Apigee Compass.

Digital Transformation: Getting Leadership, Funding, and Metrics Right

In this series of blog posts, we’ve been delving into the common ingredients we’ve discovered in working with hundreds of enterprises on their digital transformation journeys. Previously, we explored vision, one of three broad digital transformation concepts. Here, we will discuss the key aspects of alignment: leadership, funding, and metrics.

Leadership

As Conway’s Law observes, systems reflect communication patterns. If your organization is siloed, your systems will be too. These divisions can fragment the brand experience your company presents to end users and hinder your company’s ability to change. Teams typically grow accustomed to existing methods and incentives, so don’t expect change to occur organically. Because digital transformation relies on not only deploying new technologies but also adopting new organizational approaches, leading organizations drive change from the top.

A top-down commitment is required to achieve the necessary cultural alignment. Apigee customer Magazine Luiza, whose omnichannel strategy has helped it thrive in a tough Brazilian economy, made this point clear in its Q4 2016 earnings statement, writing, “Technology [must move] from the background to center stage—and [be] seen as the brain of the business … Hierarchical structures, paralyzed by excessive bureaucracy, the fear of change, and attachment to past successes, usually strongly reject the digital culture.”  

Funding

Modern business demands agile operations. API programs typically struggle when saddled with funding models, development cycles, and governance processes built for waterfall methods or other legacy approaches. Explicitly funding the API program as a platform can free teams to use data and iterate without having to frequently lobby for more money or navigate organizational bureaucracy. Organizational processes that support agile digital product teams are mandatory.  

Metrics

Because APIs are at the heart of modern business interactions, leading enterprises typically embrace metrics rooted in API consumption patterns. Traditional enterprise ROI metrics assume certain conditions: long payback periods and predictable patterns around transaction volume and pricing strength, for example. Digital business operates under different conditions, such as shorter opportunity windows and more fragmented customer segments, and these require different metrics.

Arbitrary metrics are even less useful than no metrics. Avoid measurements that are not connected to business results, such as the number of APIs produced. Focus on metrics that reflect API consumption and how APIs drive transactions; for example, which APIs produce the highest-value transactions per call, which APIs generate the highest partner and developer engagement, and which APIs are decreasing time-to-market for new products.  

Leading businesses use metrics not only to inform new strategies but also to align leadership. Executive sponsors support things they can see—such as an API that’s attracting substantial developer attention or accelerating delivery of new products. Enterprises can accelerate their transformations by using API metrics to unite leaders around digital strategies and justify continued platform-level funding for the API program.

Coming up next, we’ll explore the final big topic that’s key to succeeding in digital transformation: execution. And for more on these topics, check out the eBook, “The Digital Transformation Journey: Chart Your Path with Apigee Compass.

Cambridge Assessment: Earning Top Marks in Delivering Business Value

How the Apigee platform accelerated development time for global assessment

Cambridge Assessment has been around for over 160 years, so we’re definitely not what you’d call a “digital native.” But like many organizations today, we’re on a digital transformation journey, and APIs are playing an important role.

We’re a wholly owned organization within the U.K.’s famed University of Cambridge. We operate three exam boards that provide assessment services to leading academic and government customers in more than 200 countries. Every year, we serve millions of people.

Our assessments are used for everything from visa to university applications and, as you might imagine, our services are of enormous importance to people at pivotal points in their lives. The results of the assessments they take, whether it’s to qualify for a job, temporary residence in another country, or acceptance in a university, can determine their future.

A platform for accelerating business

The nature of assessments is constantly evolving around the globe, and transitioning from paper to digital (though a lot of tests are still completed on paper). Consequently, the materials used for assessments is changing as well, to include more digital, audio, and video. From an IT perspective, we have to manage a growing body of digital information.

How could we be more efficient, better serve our customers, and open up new revenue streams? APIs are a core part of our answer. We’d been using APIs for more than nine years to share information with partners. But now we understand the full potential of APIs to benefit our partners as well as our own organization.

An on-premises platform with powerful management tools

Our initial implementation is on-premise, allowing us to take advantage of the Cambridge University Tier 3 data centers. In addition, we wanted a platform that offered powerful management tools, faster development, and the ability to more securely provide customers with access to our APIs. The Apigee platform performs exceptionally on these and other tests.

One of the first things we did with Apigee was build APIs to enable employee data access from one of our apps. We were able to build those APIs in one month, saving us £50,000 by reducing development time by about three months.

Building a chatbot from conversational APIs

Since then, we’ve put six APIs in production from the Apigee platform, with more in development. For example, we have a new headquarters building, The Triangle, where we’re consolidating staff from 11 offices around the city. We used conversational APIs on the Apigee platform to build chatbots that allow employees to easily find and book meeting rooms in our new headquarters using an app. For us, that’s exciting.  

Additionally, with Apigee we created an internal API development portal to accelerate information sharing among our users. The ability to quickly turn on an internal API that allows parts of applications to access data is something that would have taken as long as six months to accomplish in the past.  

Gracefully handling sudden peaks

For us, a key requirement in an API platform is the ability to gracefully handle sudden, enormous peaks in people accessing our services. When we release assessment results for universities, there may be a sudden surge of 200,000 candidates, all wanting to access the test results portal. The demand may only last for several hours, and then it dies down for another few months. Apigee handles this surge with ease.

To be sure, Cambridge Assessment is on a transformational journey. And transformations like this don’t occur at the speed of light. And yet, the Apigee API platform has already sped up the delivery of value to our business in many ways—and we’re just getting started.

Sam Patient is head of integration and API services at Cambridge Assessment

 

Digital Transformation: The Vision Thing

In a previous post, we introduced three broad and important concepts—vision, alignment, and execution—and the 10 core digital transformation dimensions that fall into these areas. Here, we’ll dig into vision.

When we talk about vision in the context of digital transformation, we consider how an organization has the right mindset to achieve digital transformation, and whether leaders understand the scope and core concepts involved. It encompasses the following dimensions: Platform, APIs, Outside-In, and Ecosystem.

Platform

Modern businesses are agile: they combine and recombine software to repackage their core capabilities for new use cases, interaction models, and digital experiences. Legacy IT architectures and traditional systems integration techniques can’t achieve this kind of speed. A platform approach is required. Enterprises build platform capabilities by creating APIs that empower developers to leverage core systems and data to build new services and products.

Apigee customer Magazine Luiza, one of the top retailers in Brazil, has leveraged its API platform in numerous ways. In June 2016, for example, the brand launched a new digital marketplace that enables third parties to sell under the Magazine Luiza banner, with new participants entering the ecosystem via Magazine Luiza’s API platform.

This approach means the company incurs virtually no marginal cost to add new marketplace customers. Magazine Luiza’s marketplace dramatically expanded the company’s e-commerce capabilities, supplanting a legacy sales and distribution system that supported only 35,000 SKUs. As of late 2017, the marketplace offered over 1 million SKUs.

Magazine Luiza’s other platform initiatives include an ecosystem of mobile apps that enable new services, from an app for in-store associates that provides real-time inventory information and enables customers to pay on the spot to a logistics app that coordinates hundreds of delivery contractors across Brazil.

APIs

Modern, RESTful/JSON APIs are the backbone of a digital transformation. They encourage developer productivity by providing both programming flexibility and an intuitive, accessible interface for accessing core systems. Leading digital businesses typically recognize APIs as strategic assets—to be designed and managed as products that empower developers.

If an enterprise treats APIs as middleware—as a way to do systems integration or to expose assets—it can undermine virtually all of its digital transformation efforts.

Sophisticated organizations monetize their APIs by packaging them for the needs of different developers. When Apigee customer AccuWeather began designing APIs for individual external developers, for example, it recognized that some developers would need up-to-the-minute weather information, which would generate billions of API calls, whereas others would prefer daily forecasts, which impose a much lower data overhead. The company customized multiple API packages to let developers purchase according to their needs.

Outside-In

Successful digital businesses adopt an outside-in perspective that focuses on how customers and partners experience the brand. Our most successful customers are typically also those most fanatical about exceptional customer experiences.

Organizations that master this dimension use analytics to understand the needs of both customers and the developers translating APIs into experiences for those customers. Armed with this information, companies can produce a more relevant set of APIs and offer apps and experiences that seamlessly cut across product, service, and internal organizational boundaries.

Ecosystem

As the preceding examples demonstrate, digital ecosystems enable companies to focus on their strengths while relying on developers, partners, and other ecosystem participants for the infrastructure and services that turn those strengths into fully-featured digital experiences, expand the reach of those strengths, generate more demand, and facilitate entry into adjacent businesses.

This enables enterprises to distribute demand generation and value creation across potentially infinite digital networks. In many situations, it can also create network effects that cause momentum in one part of the ecosystem to spread elsewhere, creating the conditions for non-linear growth.

Competitive businesses recognize that ecosystem strategies are diverse—that a business doesn’t always need the gravitational center of an ecosystem to be successful. Often, rather than attempting to build a platform on the scale of Android or Facebook or attempting to be the central platform for an industry, companies grow simply by partnering with other ecosystem participants to expand their reach.  

APIs can enable ecosystem participation by enabling companies to combine and recombine software and data without friction—but only if those APIs are designed and managed for this purpose, with developer and partner ease-of-use in mind.

Pitney Bowes, for example, has expanded its ecosystem by offering productized APIs to developers via its Commerce Cloud, as mentioned above. The company also leverages the Android operating system for its SendPro C-Series of all-in-one mailing, shipping, and tracking solutions, opening the devices up to the ecosystem of Android developers.

It will soon launch an online marketplace, built with Google Cloud’s Orbitera platform, to deliver apps built around its services. These ecosystems of external software, infrastructure, and developers have combined with the company’s internal strengths in shipping, logistics, and technology to open new revenue opportunities that arguably wouldn't have been available without an ecosystem approach.

Coming up, we’ll delve into the next important digital transformation concept: alignment. And for more on these topics, check out the eBook, “The Digital Transformation Journey: Chart Your Path with Apigee Compass.

10 Core Dimensions of Digital Transformation

In a previous post, we explored two key principles of digital transformation. Here, we’ll introduce three broad and important concepts—vision, alignment, and execution—and the 10 core digital transformation dimensions that fall into these areas.

While partnering with enterprises on their digital transformations, we’ve discerned a number of patterns that businesses fall into at different stages during their journeys. From these patterns, we’ve discerned 10 core dimensions of digital transformation that fall into three broad areas:

  • The Vision area measures whether your organization has the right mindset to achieve digital transformation, and whether leaders understand the scope and core concepts involved. It encompasses the Platform, APIs, Outside-In, and Ecosystem dimensions.
  • The Alignment area gauges the business’s commitment to digital transformation and whether it has the resources and governance to support agile API product development. It encompasses the Leadership, Funding, and Metrics dimensions.
  • The Execution area assesses how effectively the business can build and scale available APIs. It encompasses the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC), Talent, and Self-Service dimensions.

Typically, a strong vision helps a company to more easily align, which can enable more effective execution. That may not sound revelatory, but over the years, we’ve observed many companies that try to jump into execution but encounter strong headwinds due to lack of executive support, basic agreements about goals, and other problems due to insufficient vision and alignment.

The 10 dimensions help to bridge these gaps by highlighting where to apply support and reinforcing that API-first digital transformation impacts the whole enterprise. The dimensions are meaningful in relation to one another. This is where the digital score comes in, packaging a business’s specific combination of dimensional strengths into an overall measure of digital competitiveness.

The score applies across industries. Vertical-specific expertise is still relevant in the digital world—but we also live in a world in which Amazon is a grocery store, companies such as Alphabet and Apple are innovating in the automotive space, and scores of digital upstarts are impacting insurance and finance. This means that certain core capabilities—described by the dimensions, categories, and digital score in Apigee Compass—are relevant regardless of industry.   

Consider the following digital score from Apigee Compass.

This is a fairly typical pattern, with the organization on the cusp of moving from a lagging position to a progressing one. The company leaders have a fairly advanced vision and recognize the importance of platforms, an outside-in perspective that uses data to improve customer experience, and the ability to leverage software for greater ecosystem participation.

But there are also glaring weaknesses that stop the company from executing on and advancing this vision. Chiefly, the company treats APIs mostly as a way to expose assets and hasn’t recognized their role in the processes mentioned above. Additionally, the lack of self-service resources blocks developers from moving fast, and the persistence of legacy approaches across the company’s metrics and software development models aren’t helping either. C-suite leaders will likely need to better align around the value of APIs to push the organization forward.

Coming up next, we’ll dig into the first four dimensions of digital transformation by exploring the role that vision and the right mindset play in digital transformation.

 

Understanding Digital Transformation: Two Key Principles

In a previous post, we discussed the challenges of executing on the best laid digital plans. Here, we’ll delve into two key tenets of digital transformation.

In unpacking digital transformation and modern business, let’s focus on two principles.

Modern business isn’t (just) about adopting a mobile strategy or using the cloud to generate efficiency savings. Most crucially, it’s about embracing a shift in the nature of supply and demand.

Consider Apigee customer Ticketmaster. Decades ago, it was an analog business: customer interactions occurred via physical locations or a phone number—a limited supply delivered through limited, often purpose-built channels. This changed when Ticketmaster moved online, but only to a degree. Transactions were still channeled through a limited set of pipes, such as core websites, and offerings were still constrained, relying on customers to seek them out.

Contrast that with today’s Ticketmaster, which makes its core business services, such as ticket purchasing and event discovery, available via APIs. This provides a programming interface that empowers partners—Facebook, Broadway.com, Costco, and Fox Sports, among others—to combine these services with their own. Rather than shouldering the full burden of building channels and attracting customers to them, Ticketmaster can now benefit from demand generated by third parties and transactions fulfilled in channels it didn’t have to create.

Infinitely scaling digital assets

This sort of example represents a fundamental rethink of traditional supplier-distributor and value creation paradigms. Strategies no longer focus on piping a finite set of goods and services through limited channels toward a rigid set of possible customer interactions. Instead, businesses can infinitely scale digital assets. Unlike physical resources, these assets can be reproduced at virtually no marginal cost; whether they’re purchasing and discovery services such as Ticketmaster’s, navigational services such as those offered by Google Maps, or almost any other digitized enterprise capability, the assets can be endlessly extended to new developers, partners, and users.

This scalability enables organizations to leverage software—both their own and software from others—to not only provide products and services when and how the customer wants but also to distribute value creation across ecosystems of digital participants, allowing businesses to benefit from resources they didn’t have to build themselves.

Pitney Bowes and Walgreens, also Apigee customers, further exemplify this idea. After nearly a century in mailing and shipping solutions, Pitney Bowes has transformed into a provider of digital logistics and e-commerce solutions. It’s done so by making its core services, such as location intelligence and shipping capabilities, available to partners and developers who can build them into third-party applications.

Similarly, Walgreens has made its services, such as photo printing and prescription fulfillment, available to software developers. This has helped the company transition from a brick-and-mortar business into an omnichannel organization that interacts with customers across both physical and virtual space. It now fills a prescription every second via mobile devices.

APIs for repeated leverage

As these companies’ respective successes demonstrate, digital transformation and the modern business dynamics it enables rely on a company’s ability to package its services, competencies, and assets into software that can be repeatedly leveraged. This requires APIs.

Building APIs doesn’t automatically transform an organization, of course. Indeed, because APIs are the means through which developers connect data, systems, and applications—that is, the mechanism through which software talks to software—most companies are already using APIs. What’s important is how the APIs are operationalized to support platform and ecosystem strategies. This brings us to the second principle:

Digital transformation is bigger than IT investments or even platform strategies. Successful digital journeys require overhauling the organization’s operating model.

Successful organizations recognize IT as an enabler of business opportunities, not a curator of infrastructure, and that APIs are the strategic levers that make those opportunities possible. Technology leaders and business leaders should break down traditional silos and work together to solve business challenges. If legacy mindsets persist, they can open operational chasms throughout the organization, as the following graphic illustrates.

For example, many companies want to drive new sources of revenue via an API program—but because these companies classify APIs as “technical infrastructure,” they don’t make other necessary adjustments to their go-to-market, sales, marketing, and product management approaches.  

APIs as products

This sort of schism isn’t uncommon, as the Apigee Compass statistics in the previous post alluded. Closing the gaps requires that businesses not only use APIs but design and manage them as products for developers.

The point isn’t merely to expose systems—it’s to create an interface that lets developers reliably leverage assets to create new apps and digital experiences. Managing APIs as products involves offering self-service features that enable developers to quickly access the resources they need, adopting operational models that support agile development, supporting evangelism and other marketing strategies to promote the APIs, and much more.

Companies that fail to make operational changes might succeed in building APIs, but they’ll struggle to achieve the desired level of adoption and impact. Many organizations want to gain speed and agility by using APIs, for example, but API programs in organizations that continue to employ legacy funding and governance processes often succumb to long delays and stifling bureaucracies.

Coming up next, we’ll discuss ten key ingredients and interdependencies of digital transformation.

And for more on these topics, check out the eBook, “The Digital Transformation Journey: Chart Your Path with Apigee Compass.

 

The Digital Transformation Journey

New ebook

Digital transformation has been all the rage the last few years, with virtually every enterprise feeling the heat to reinvent itself for the modern age. Just look at this Google Trends chart for the phrase “digital transformation”:

The problem is, when a term becomes this popular, it starts to mean a lot of different things—which inevitably leads to it meaning almost nothing.

Does digital transformation mean building mobile apps? Offering wearables? Generating efficiencies with the cloud? Using chatbots? Hiring lots of developers? Using platforms? Becoming a platform? Modeling yourself after Google or Amazon or Netflix? All of that? None of it?

As the questions pile up and grow more complex, you can practically feel CEOs and CIOs around the world pulling out their hair.

The digital transformation misnomer 

This ambiguity is a significant reason why businesses have had uneven success in their digital transformations, despite spending more and more on IT. It’s also why we wrote our new ebook, The Digital Transformation Journey.

Informed by Apigee’s work with hundreds of enterprise customers, The Digital Transformation Journey is both:

  • a standalone examination of the nuts and bolts that make organizations successful in today’s economy.
  • a complement to Apigee Compass, a free tool we recently released to help businesses measure their transformation efforts with a digital score and accelerate their progress with curated recommendations.

One of the key themes in The Digital Transformation Journey is that “digital transformation” itself may be something of misnomer. There is no finite journey from point A to point B, and there is no single transformation from one thing into another. Successful transformation efforts aren’t about any single technology or business model.

Rather, when businesses really succeed at what we broadly refer to as “digital transformation,” they gain the technical and operational agility to adapt to perpetual change. The pace of technological change isn’t going to slow down. Customer expectations are only going to get harder to satisfy.

The ability to “transform” must be baked into a company’s business models. Digital journeys only end when companies go out of business. For those that continue to compete, there will always be a new platform or a new interaction model.

Accelerate your digital evolution

Adapting to this world of perpetual business evolution requires changes throughout the organization, from corporate visions that lay out goals and foundations, to the metrics and processes used to drive internal alignment, to the tools used to execute over the “last mile.”

Like Apigee Compass, The Digital Transformation Journey dissects this process into ten core dimensions: platform, APIs, outside-in, ecosystem, leadership, funding, metrics, software development lifecycle, talent, and self-service.

Grounded in real-world examples including Apigee customers Walgreens, Ticketmaster, Magazine Luiza, AccuWeather, and Pitney Bowes, these dimensions illustrate how companies can continue to leverage their core competencies while delivering them via new channels and ecosystems required by the modern world.

Help your business accelerate its digital evolution. Dive into your copy of The Digital Transformation Journey today.

Apigee’s Top API Editorials of 2017

2017 was a big year for APIs.

They continued to solidify their position as the mechanism through which value is exchanged in modern economies, with literally quadrillions of API calls connecting apps, data, and systems throughout the world each day.

Apigee experts published dozens of editorials last year, both externally and via our Medium publication, to help developers, IT architects, and business leaders understand how to maximize the value of APIs and keep pace with constant technological change.

Here are some of our top articles from 2017, organized by some of the year’s biggest themes. Thank you to all of our readers, and stay tuned for more in 2018!

API management best practices

The nitty gritty details of API management can be challenging, but Apigee experts are here to help with their observations from the field. Be sure to check out “KPIs for APIs and Digital Programs: A Comprehensive Guide” by Michael Leppitsch and “Building an Outside-In Approach to APIs” by Chris Von See.

APIs and digital transformation

Virtually all companies understand the digital transformation imperative: if you don’t continually use technology to evolve your business, you’ll go out of business.

John Rethans explains why APIs are central to this imperative in his Forbes article, “APIs: Leverage for Digital Transformation.” And to explore why the technologies that businesses have been using for years are simply no longer good enough, read Brian Pagano’s “Legacy IT: Like a Horse on the Autobahn.”

To maximize the leverage John discusses in Forbes, APIs must be managed as products that empower developers—not as middleware. For details, see my article “How APIs Become API Products,” which includes real-world examples from Apigee customers Pitney Bowes, Walgreens, and AccuWeather.  

To appreciate the full scope of an API-first business evolution, check out “Lessons from Magazine Luiza’s Digital Transformation,” in which John interviews the CTO of one of South America’s hottest companies. And to understand where multicloud strategies fit into the mix, read David Feuer’s “Multicloud: Taming the Rookery.”

Caught up on how APIs are used today? For a glimpse into the future of digital transformation and the role APIs will play as new technologies emerge, don’t miss our article in Business Insider,How APIs are Key to Successful Digital Transformation.”

Security

New software vulnerabilities and attacker techniques emerge on a daily basis, so security remained a leading concern for enterprises in 2017. David Andrzejek wrote two of our top articles on the topic. “Using Behavior Analysis to Solve API Security Problems” in Help Net Security examines how user behavior can be monitored in near-real time to identify suspicious behavior and block malicious actors, and “Grinch Bots are out to Spoil the Holidays” in VentureBeat explains how businesses can stop a trend that plagued many online shoppers last year: attackers who use bots to buy up the most in-demand, supply-constrained items.

Digital ecosystems

To adapt to shifts in customer behavior and the competitive landscape, a business doesn’t need to become a platform company, invent new machine learning technologies, or build loads of new software in-house. Instead, it should leverage what others have built to complement its own capabilities, reach new user groups, and explore adjacent markets.

Anant Jhingran and I discuss these ideas in our CIO.com articles “APIs, Ecosystems, and the Democratization of Machine Intelligence” and “Do You Really Want to be a Platform?” For a deep look at these ecosystem dynamics, including a set of simulations, check out Anant and Prashanth Subrahmanyam’s CIO.com article, “3 Golden Rules for Winning in Software-Driven Ecosystems.”

Industry trends

APIs are playing into business strategies in virtually all industries, but there are still scores of specific trends, use cases, and regulatory requirements from one vertical to the next. Some of our top industry-specific stories from 2017 included David Andrzejek’s “Why Haven’t More Banks Embraced Digital Platforms?” in The Financial Brand and Aashima Gupta’s “Voice Interfaces Will Revolutionize Patient Care” in VentureBeat.

Image: Flickr Creative Commons/Jlm Ronan