Stories are frequently referenced by speakers about industry disruption – Uber, Airbnb, Apple Pay… the list goes on. While these incursions into an industry seem to occur more and more frequently, it is also competitors in your industry that need to be addressed. At any time, a competitor may introduce a capability that provides differentiation and you must react – quickly. The question is how? Perhaps you are looking to differentiate your business and want a first mover advantage. How can you execute quickly and at low cost/risk to try new market offerings?
The answer, of course, is APIs!
Let’s start with the assumption that you have not implemented an API initiative. How do you try to close
the gap between your business and a competitor who has implemented a differentiating capability? After understanding the gap your IT organization would need to implement the changes into your existing Systems of Record (SoR). With appropriate planning for the change, testing, etc. because we cannot afford to hurt our existing capabilities, these changes may take months to implement. All the while, the competition is not standing still and winning competitive battles.
What if your business had an API initiative in place? Even if new APIs are required to close the gap, the time to create new APIs is far less (days or weeks) compared to changing the SoR. And, if new business logic is required, this can also be added in a microservice tier in front of the SoR. Please see my Speed and Innovation blogs for more detail on this.
Going on the Offensive
Our business is not going to wait to try to catch up, we want to drive forward and differentiate ourselves
from the competition. The challenge without an API initiative is how to try new innovative offerings at low cost and risk. We do not want to spend inordinate amounts of money to try something that isn’t effective and do not want to risk implementing changes to the SoR that have to be backed out in case the new offering is not as successful as we would have liked.
Again, using APIs and a microservice tier, we can execute quickly and at low cost to try a new offering to see if it will be successful as a differentiator in the market. If it is not successful, then we have not spent much time or money in the implementation. We can also easily throw the effort away and have no effect on our SoR. The concept of “fail fast” is something to embrace. If the offering is successful we can continue to execute the new capability in place while, if we choose to, we can integrate the new capability into our SoR with appropriate change control.
Is Competition another Business Driver?
So, to those of you who have been faithfully reading my blogs, and heard me say there are 4 business drivers – Speed, Reach, Innovation, and Domains. Is Competition a fifth business driver? Did I lie? Let me assure you, that I would not lie to you!
There are several other reasons that companies execute API initiatives: competition, revenue generation, market share, and time to market, to name a few. I believe you can map these in to the four business drivers that I’ve previously listed. Speed and Innovation address drivers such as competition and time to market. Add reach to the list to address revenue generation and market share. So, rather than make a never-ending list of business drivers I’ll stick to my four basics – Speed, Reach, Innovation, and Domains.
To understand more about IBM’s thoughts on the API Economy visit the IBM API Economy website. IBM API Connect is IBM’s complete foundation to Create, Run, Manage, and Secure APIs. You can find more information about IBM API Connect at the API Connect website. And you can also experience a trial version of API Connect.
If you have questions, please let me know. Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion.