In the last few years, the enterprise landscape has changed. While IoT “infestation” is a major reason for this change, there are other important reasons too. The need to provide flexible interface for your partners in a quick manner, the need to mobile enable not only any new application/process that is being built, but also existing applications, and the need for enterprises to connect/synergize with social networks, cloud, etc. all dictate where your shrinking enterprise IT dollars need to be spent.
Especially in today’s world, if you think the picture on the left is a true description of your “Enterprise,” then your enterprise may not be innovating fast enough. While I am not saying that the picture on the right should be your current enterprise, I am sure it is somewhere in between or at least getting there. Ultimately, the goal of your organization should be to build a true “digital” enterprise that is on the right.
Especially when you have a need to connect gadgets such as appliances, vending machines, smart metering from utilities, vehicle/container tracking, connected car initiatives, and connected human initiatives, to your enterprise business model, the need for integration with existing backend systems arise on a daily basis.
The unfortunate fact is that we built too restrictive and inflexible systems in the last 20 or 30 years or even longer, depending on when your corporate journey began. While these so-called “mature” systems are built to cater to your enterprise needs of yesterday, they may not serve the current needs or will barely serve the needs of tomorrow. It becomes even more pronounced when these mature systems needed to connect with evolving/immature newer front ends (the so called “Systems of Engagement.”) As “things” become instrumented for the Internet, they become the prime customer interaction points.
Our corporate agendas are shifting. As enterprises leave their “comfort zone” to connect with the hyper, social, ever needy, cloud-based field where systems are not only expected to be available all the time but also expected to provide access, security, analytics, appropriate data, etc. in real time to the backend systems or to the raw data. If you continue to build siloed, batch mode applications, your organization will be extinct in the digital world soon enough.
The investment, the thought process, and the enablement all change with this shifting agenda. The underlying common element is APIs. Everything is enabled via APIs in the new digital world.
That is why, when the customers get a dollar to spend and when they ask me where their dollar should be spent wisely, my first and only answer is “API.”
APIs are contracts and interfaces to backend systems. APIs are what enable connecting the newer SOE (systems of engagement) devices to existing SOR (systems of record). While the ultimate goal may be to re-architect everything to micro services, right now the need is more about providing an API entry point for everything that connects anything to anything.
I always advise my customers to have a flexible SOI (system of interface) or APIs. This will allow them to cope up with the demand to add new devices to their systems easily. Today they might be looking to incorporate certain devices, but the need might change tomorrow. Today they might be looking to integrate with a limited number of partners, but tomorrow they might be expected to open their data to unlimited partners (in a secure and controlled manner) if the corporate needs change.
By building these flexible SOIs (or APIs), you can not only meet those demands but exceed them easily. If you have a dollar to spend, build an API and save your enterprise.