From the web services of SOA to the RESTful API approach of modern integration architectures and associated platforms the holy grail for CIOs and Architects has always been a successful re-use model to free up central IT resource and accelerate time to value
Whilst some vendors have pushed this message harder than others and some organisations have deployed a reuse approach better than others the fact remains that typically any re-use is still constrained to the realm of central IT and in fewer cases out to a wider partner or developer ecosystem.
One of the reasons for this is that APIs are still seen as the purview of a traditional code developer to use – we talk about developer portals and developer engagement when trying to get our APIs out into the wider world – and the majority of tools that enable access to APIs are still very code friendly developer focused.
Thinking about a broader API Program approach : in order to create a much wider set of digital connections in your value network of APIs we need to consider all those groups of people who can obtain great value from the data and processes opened up by central IT via APIs (whether for systems of record, differentiation or innovation as defined in the Gartner PACE model, alternatively described as system, process or experience APIs in other models) if it is easily pluggable and can be automated. Classic examples are Sales Ops or HR Ops teams – the teams who traditionally work in the world of Excel macros and manual processes to perform sometimes reasonably complex tasks but all going under the radar of central IT which leads to the inevitable issues with consistency and accuracy and siloed areas of expertise. These teams know their business requirements inside out but typically spend way too much time either building complex macros (which are unreadable to anyone else and not really API friendly) or running and debugging them as needed or rapidly trying to become RPA experts all whilst patiently waiting for central IT to schedule in their project into an already cluttered backlog.
What if there was a simpler way for them to be able to harness the power of the central IT team assets ? A Low/No Code architecture approach may be a good way for many of these teams.
Take an example of an AI driven deal desk that is needed by your sales ops team. What if you could orchestrate an entire deal desk, including quotas and managing approvals, all via chat; or get a complete view of your accounts including support tickets, personnel changes and other relevant activity all without having to manually check reports, set up email alerts from multiple systems or hack some macro code but make use of the Salesforce and Slack innovation APIs that have been securely published by your IT team.
Now just because the APIs are RESTful and hence more human readable when it comes to the output there is still typically a requirement to either structure a very specific request or parse through large amounts of json structured data and this is exactly where a user-friendly, web-native tool such as Workato can provide drag and drop tooling to take out that grunt work and actually allow the human to structure the business process they want without having to worry about how to get and then scrub the data to exactly how it is required for the other systems in the process.
Ultimately this model drives a number of important value points for the organisation as a whole;
- Increases the value of the assets already produced by central IT as they are consumed by a wider audience
- Decreases workload on central IT as these teams put together their own apps and datasets whilst retaining governance and consistency which also reduces BAU costs over time as there is less spaghetti code to look after
- Allows better partnering between the business and central IT – reducing the shadow IT presence
- Increases productivity of these operational teams by removing manual processes and bug-fixing macros when processes need to be updated which ultimately provides these teams with more time to innovate more for the business.
As we conclude this series of blogs there are a couple of key takeaways to remember – an API Program is the way to truly drive innovation across an organisation and isn’t purely for large enterprises but can be applied to any organisation; and new developer approaches with regards to no or low code tools can drive consumption of these new central IT assets with multiple benefits.