I Love APIs

Voices of Digital Business: Customer Conversations

Telstra, First Data, Mapquest, Belly, and others, in their own words

Over the past several months, we've had the opportunity to sit down with many of our customers to discuss their digital transformations, their experiences with APIs and API management, and their partnership with Apigee. We hope you enjoy a look back at these conversations as much as we did engaging in them.

Telstra Software Group's Charlotte Yarkoni discusses why APIs are a powerful business enabler for the telco.
McKesson's Matias Klein discusses how interoperability and innovation in healthcare will be driven by APIs.
Morningstar's Steven Englehardt discusses how API management provides better control, governance, and visibility. 
Pitney Bowes' Jon Spinney discusses how his company is using APIs to fuel its digital transformation.
Mapquest's Brian McMahon discusses the importance of the developer experience and what makes for a great API.
Ticketmaster's Ismail Elshareef discusses how the company is empowering developers with easy-to-use APIs.
Vodafone's Daniel Wolff discusses how APIs helped the telco rethink IT and adopt an agile approach.
Bugaboo's Sjoerd Nijland discusses how APIs enable a small company to fulfill big-brand aspirations. 
AWhere's Stewart Collis and Jeof Oyster discuss how the startup uses APIs to deliver agricultural and weather data to farmers around the globe.
Belly's Darby Frey discusses why the loyalty and rewards plan provider needed an API management platform (three-part series).
Magazine Luiza's Thiago Catoto discusses how APIs unlock valuable data in backend systems and enable omnichannel retail strategies.
Glh Hotels' Matthew Newton discusses how APIs are helping the company to "disrupt the traditional hotel management model."
Humana's Florin Fortis discusses how collaboration between technologists and business leaders is critical for a successful digital transformation.
Thomson Reuters' Saori Fotenos and Ian Cooper discuss the challenges and importance of marketing APIs within an organization.
First Data's Patrick Howard discusses how fintech firms must adapt to new customer expectations, and how APIs play a role.
Tradier's Dan Raju discusses the importance of carefully thinking through a solid API monetization strategy.
Vantiv's Shawn McCarthy discusses how APIs enable innovation in the payments field.

 

Thanks to all these customers for inviting Apigee along on their digital journeys. All of these videos and more are available on our Voices of Digital Business Pioneers YouTube playlist.

Swisscom: From Telco to Business Platform with APIs

Swisscom can safely claim as customers nearly all of the 8.1 million people living in the country, according to the telecom service company's head of product management Frank Fitzlaff. 

But the top provider of mobile, fixed-line, and internet access networks in Switzerland is looking to provide a variety of services well-beyond the telephony market, and is employing APIs to do so, he added. For example, APIs have enabled the company to operate a variety of core banking infrastructure applications (Swisscom offers a white label mobile payment app, digital identification and sign-on capabilities, and more).

Where this “is becoming interesting,” Fitzlaff said, is the push to combine financial services capabilities with more traditional telco services, such as locational services, to create whole new experiences for customers.

Innovations like these—powered by APIs—have helped Swisscom transform itself into a platform and expand its revenue streams beyond voice and messaging. 

Having traveled so far on Swisscom’s digital journey, Fitzlaff has good advice for other companies starting out with APIs.

“Be ready for suprises, be flexible,” he said. “Just get stuff done. Don’t talk too much; don’t plan too much. If it doesn’t work, then change.”

Swisscom chose Apigee as its API management platform provider because of its leadership position in the market, Fitzlaff said, but he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of best practices and industry insight we provided as well.

“One of the great deliverables of Apigee is getting the industry together—not just pushing their technology,” Fitzlaff said. “They are much more of a companion."

Humana: APIs for Collaboration and Partnership

APIs enable organizations to quickly adapt to change. But sometimes change offers a powerful opportunity to adapt to APIs.

The Affordable Care Act provided just such an opportunity for Humana, said the healthcare firm’s digital transformation and API strategy leader Florin Fortis. 

“It’s this time of change that prompts people to be open and embrace a new mindset,” Fortis said. “It was a great opportunity for us to promote the API mindset. It created the opportunity for the API program to be an enabler and an accelerator."

The myriad changes sparked by the federal healthcare policy also laid the groundwork for a collaboration between lines of business and technologists at Humana, Fortis said. This is critical to the success of any API program, he argued.

“The benefit … is that you have multiple stakeholders with skin in the game, so they are likely to support you,” he said. 

Thomson Reuters: Meeting Customer Demand for APIs

APIs are nothing new to Thomson Reuters. The media and information company has used the technology to help provide information to business people, financial analysts, lawyers, accountants, and scientists since the 1990s. 

But now Thomson Reuters is focused on revamping the experience of using APIs and marketing them throughout the company.

“We want to take it to the next level and make it easier for developers internally and externally to use our content,” said Ian Cooper, the company’s technology architect.

We spoke with Ian and his colleague, senior director of API platform Saori Fotenos, during I Love APIs 2015 about the challenges of driving broad acceptance of APIs across the business. 

“The biggest barrier is overcoming the fear of what APIs might mean to a company that sees its core asset as the information it owns,” Fotenos said. “It’s not about opening up for letting go, but opening for partnerships and actual growth.”

Two key factors have helped to surmount this hurdle, Fotenos said. First, customers are beginning to demand APIs. Second, business leaders at the company are beginning to realize how APIs make innovation faster and simpler, she added.

“Our customers actually want this openness or connectivity and partnership,” she said. “The next step is to make it so plain, simple, and easy for [the various business units] to use the tool and the platform that they don’t even have to think about this.”

Glh: Disrupting the Hotel Model with APIs

When hotel management company Glh went live with its first API (a hotel room availability API), it expected a trickle of interest. It got a torrent.

“We partnered with a travel agency and we thought we’d get a hundred calls. We got 150,000 calls a day, seven days a week,” said Glh enterprise architect Matthew Newton. “It took us completely by surprise.”

Glh was prepared, however. Its room availability API was running on Apigee Edge, which enabled the company’s API team to instantly see the high traffic and adjust accordingly without disrupting its back-end systems, Newton said.

“Apigee provides a brilliant platform to physically run our API on,” he said during an interview at I Love APIs 2015. “That’s been instrumental in making sure that … we haven’t been pulled back by small snags.”

APIs are playing a key role in helping Glh in its push to “disrupt the traditional hotel management model … and enrich the customer experience,” Newton added. 

APIs "get so many conversations started,” he said. “They are simple enough for everyone to understand; they are technical enough for those people that know how to use them to make real inroads and developments. It answers the question of ‘How can we get all of this information to work together?’"

Magazine Luiza: An Omnichannel Strategy Built on APIs

For Brazil-based retailer Magazine Luiza, digital transformation had evolved from a question of “why,” to "when."

So said the company’s IT manager Thiago Catoto in an interview at I Love APIs 2015 when asked what sparked Magazine Luiza’s digital journey. The company realized that customers wanted to buy its products via new channels beyond the 750 physical stores it operates across the country. 

From improving the speed of its mobile apps with caching capabliities to helping the company create a platform to support an omnichannel retail business model, Apigee has played a significant role in Magazine Luiza’s digital transformation, Catoto said.

"All the information about the stores and inventory was in the backend ... it was real tricky to get information," he said. "When we do it with Apigee ... we just expose it with one API and then bam, we just connect and get the information."

Digital Disruption at I Love APIs Europe 2016

Technology and culture shifts for the digital revolution

Shifts and disruptions caused by new digital technology mean that we live in a time of promise and peril. Apigee CEO Chet Kapoor delivered this message Wednesday to 500 technologists from the ranks of business strategy, IT, and developers as he kicked off I Love APIs Europe 2016 in London. The themes of the day were opportunity and disruption.

The importance of the shift to digital for people, businesses, and societies was underscored by the discussion of the fourth industrial revolution at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, Chet said. This shift is characterized by a range of new technologies that is fusing the physical, digital, and biological world, impacting all disciplines, economies, and industries, and even challenging ideas about what is means for how we interact with the world around us.
 
The focus was on the promise of digital technology and the challenges of the culture shift that must accompany technological shifts. In short order, the giants of the previous industrial era—the masters of the old linear value chain—were displaced by platform businesses. Companies such as Apple and Uber became disrupters and highly valued businesses. Many other companies across multiple industries are also making a shift. Apigee chief marketing officer Denise Persson described how digital is driving amazing business results for many companies worldwide, highlighting the growth and payoff for Emirates NDB, aWhere, Pizza Hut, Philips Hue, and Burberry.

Technology

Ed Anuff, Apigee's head of product strategy, described the critical technological requirements for digital business success. He highlighted the importance of building systems that support massive scale and high availability, security for people and systems across a new digital value chain, providing an awesome developer experience for developer success and productivity, and building a data-driven enterprise. Ed underscored developer centricity, microservices, hybrid cloud, and adaptive learning as the technological underpinnings to future proof a modern digital business.

People

The great peril that Chet mentioned arises if people and organizations are unable to adapt. Strategy services lead John Rethans took the stage to describe how moving fast and delivering a radically different and better digital experience requires companies develop new communication mechanisms and challenge the software development lifecycle. Avoiding disruption requires companies to:
  • get cross-functional
  • get agile
  • eliminate liaisons; put marketing and developers together—and in the driver's seat
  • use APIs to abstract out the complexities of back-end systems and increase the speed of iteration
  • set metrics on speed and iteration
Cultures—both corporate and world cultures—are defined by what they value, how they invest resources, and how they create value. Digital transformation and speeding time to value require that IT organizations move from a project culture that is time-bound, itinerant, and risk-averse to a product development culture focused on value creation and customers.
 
The most successful companies adopt a top-down priority approach to digital. They shift their mindsets to nix the traditional idea of organizational structures and leverage their employees, as well as their partner and customer ecosystems, to act quickly on the right set of priorities.

Speed

Chet closed the keynote sharing some of the data from the State of APIs Report released on the morning of the conference. The increased pace of digital transformation in enterprises is evidenced by a tremendous growth in API traffic in the Apigee cloud: 280% year-over-year. It may be a surprise to many that B2B use cases—more than the connected digital experience that is so readily observed in our day-to-day—drive enterprise APIs. Fifty-six percent of enterprises are using APIs to extend their business capabilities through partner channels and ecosystem engagement initiatives. Internal operations initiatives focus on empowering sales and support teams to deliver superior customer value.
 
Technology has changed the game. Every industry now understands that APIs are the key to corporate survival in our increasingly digital world. The ability to adapt will determine who wins. Speed matters most; companies must succeed—or fail—fast.
 
These notions of speed of changing technology and adapting to change were reiterated by Jack Ramsey of Accenture Digital in his subsequent presentation.
 
"The question is not will things change, but rather, how fast will it happen and what will be the consequence for us?" he said.
 
Jack took us on a journey of companies disrupted and disrupting and the societal, technological, economic, and environmental impact of the revolution that we can't stop—but that we can shape if we adapt and move fast.
 
The keynote presentation is available on SlideShare.
 
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Join the conversation (or start one) in the Apigee Community.

Pearson: Building an Education Platform with APIs

Pearson, the world’s largest education company and book publisher, is looking to solve new challenges unique to its user base.

Having grown from offering a small handful of APIs to over 50, the U.K. company is trying to make those APIs as easy to use as possible for anyone—including the instructors or university department heads who have no IT staff or budget to take advantage of Pearson's poweful APIs.

“We’re focusing on removing that barrier of ‘You have to be a developer to use our APIs’,” said Allen Rodgers, the director of Pearson's developer program and API network. “We’re looking heavily into technology that allows anybody to leverage our APIs.”

Rodgers, who spoke with us during I Love APIs 2015, said the company also aims to take the lessons learned from its external API development and apply them internally. 

Rodgers acknowledged that that this approach might be viewed as backward, as most organizations begin their journey with internal APIs. Pearson’s approach, however, was driven by its overarching need to open up its education data to external developers and partners. Now that’s it has succeeded on that front (the company has over 300 partners and more than 20 apps have been developed on its APIs) it is working on managing its microservices, Rodgers said. 

“What Apigee is helping us do is understand how to take advantage of the same kind of API management you’d use in a public or partner program and apply that to an internal program,” he said. “We’re looking at extending our external program internally."

For more on choosing the right API initiative, download the free eBook, "What's Your Problem? Internal, Partner, and Open API Initiatives to Fit Your Business Challenge."

Bugaboo: How APIs Boost a Brand

Dutch stroller maker Bugaboo is a relatively small company with big-brand aspirations.

“We have to live up to the big expectations that consumers have,” said Sjoerd Nijland, the company’s e-business architect. Nijland spoke with us at I Love APIs 2015 about how APIs enabled Bugaboo to quickly move from supplying its high-end strollers to retailers to selling directly to consumers worldwide. 

“APIs gave us a dynamic way to connect systems together and build a consistent experience,” he said. They also hid the complexity of Bugaboo’s backend architecture, Nijland added.

“By being smart about it and being really flexible and using APIs—this is how we can play the big game."

APIs will play an even larger role in Bugaboo’s future, Nijland said. The company has been growing very fast, and APIs can help facilitate the agility needed to continue its trajectory.

“What’s next?” he asked. “Thinking about how fast can our company grow, and how can we use APIs to speed that up and not get bogged down. You have to think about being flexible enough to continue that growth."

AWhere: Feeding the World with Data and APIs

AWhere is a small company with a big mission: supplying agricultural data around the globe to help farmers feed the world.

We sat down with Stewart Collis, CTO and cofounder of aWhere, and Jeof Oyster, the company's senior product manager, at I Love APIs 2015 to discuss how the company uses APIs to achieve its goals and enable developers building apps for the agriculture industry.

"Getting the right information to farmers is critical to our business and our mission," Collis said. "I love APIs because they connect people and help us get the right information to the right people at the right time.”

Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., aWhere delivers data culled from a multitude of sources (including satellite and ground radar observations and weather stations) to a wide variety of use cases, ranging from large North American farming operations to research and development organizations to farmers with a couple acres in Africa and no smartphones. 

“We can’t design software for all those use cases,” Oyster said. “We’re small, we don’t have that many engineers. For us, the API platform was the way to take our rich depth of data and deliver it to as many use cases as possible.”

Because aWhere was a young and lean startup, it needed a quick way to deploy APIs at low cost. So Collis and Oyster were excited to join the pilot program for Apigee Edge SMB, our API management platform for small to mid-sized businesses.

"SMB brought the functionality we needed at a price that we could actually afford,” Oyster said. “That has allowed us to get to market not just with an API gateway but actually to deploy full APIs to our customers with zero engineering effort."