We are now living in the age of digital businesses. Companies are riding the digital wave to transform and create new business and operating models. Success for leadership teams is no longer just the ROI but hard wiring digital elements into the organization’s structures, processes, systems, and incentives. With the advent of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, the explosion of mobile technology and the burgeoning data by the Internet of Things (IoT), the promise of the connected digital enterprise is greater than ever before, yet even more difficult to achieve. Digital transformation has its own unique set of challenges from investment to skill development across functions and business units.
In the race to achieve competitive advantage with innovative offerings and focus on customer centricity, organizations need to solve the technology conundrum in order to communicate with all data sources available to them. While digging the gold mine to be on cloud first, organisations took a back seat on application integration. Business cases precisely focused on economics of IT with cloud computing but failed to build it up further on how they would integrate data between on-premises and cloud apps with this SaaS model.
According to research from IDG, businesses expect the volume of data they manage to grow more than 70% in the coming year. This data will be important for a range of users beyond dedicated analysts and C-level executives. This will also include field service representatives, sales people, marketers, and product managers. Organizations took on-premise business data as the Holy Bible for critical business decisions. However, to improve the innovation clock, organizations need to leverage and integrate data sources into a single system accessible to everyone in the organization to create business value. Procter&Gamble, for example, created a single analytics portal, called the Decision Cockpit, which provides up-to-date sales data across brands, products, and regions to more than 50,000 employees globally. The portal, which emphasizes projections over historical data, lets teams quickly identify issues, such as declining market share, and take steps to address problems. Another example is U.S. Xpress, which collects data in real time from tens of thousands of sources. It managed to save more than $20 million in fuel consumption looking at the fuel consumption of idling vehicles.
Real-time requirements of data with constant visibility between different applications have started to outpace the legacy batch and scheduled information. To get a perspective on the complexity of getting different applications aligned, we can refer to a recent study of more than 1,300 business leaders by Dynamic Markets. It states that one out of two companies have abandoned cloud SaaS applications because of integration problems; 54 percent of businesses have missed project deadlines due to cloud integration problems; and half of cloud adopters have tried and failed at cloud integration.
This has led to a strategic shift in organisations who used to think as traditional buyers of cloud platforms and have now started looking into comprehensive cloud strategies where a major role is being played by integration solutions that work across all sources of application data, in-house or cloud, behind or outside the enterprise firewall.
Organizations have also dived into API (application program interface) strategy with private and public API’s in order to flexibly manage interactions between legacy systems, and enable new ways to engage and connect with customers through web, mobile and social apps. In this dynamic environment, APIs solve this intricacy where end users experience better services and internal IT maintains control over database systems, enabling businesses to move faster without endangering security or data governance. One such solution provider Mulesoft, enables end-to-end connectivity across API service orchestration and application integration needs through a single unified platform. This allows developers to rapidly connect, orchestrate and enable any internal or external endpoint.
At this point organizations need to define a clear roadmap, where great APIs are designed, to making the concept a reality. Digital transformation can take an incremental route with the right strategy which focuses not only on the applications being used, but also the platform they choose to connect them to, otherwise what is the use of running if you are not on the right road.