You may be delivering web or mobile apps, delivering data or services through an API, or looking to monetize your data through the data economy, or even all of the above, but if your firm has realized that it needs to go beyond just using and/or providing APIs to enter the business of APIs, you need to join the API economy!
The API economy is:
All commerce generated by the business of providing, consuming, integrating, and adding value to data (and thus often to products and services) via application programming interfaces (APIs) that create economic value.
Ever wonder how Las Vegas casinos catch card-counting teams at Blackjack tables, like the MIT team immortalized in the film “21” with Kevin Spacey? They use many techniques, some of which are confidential, but one we know about is their use of Entity Analytics on many intersecting streams of information about their patrons or potential employees. I recently had the chance to learn more about Entity Analytics and Big Data from one of the top industry thought leaders, Jeff Jonas of IBM.
Jeff Jonas Kevin Spacey in 21
This opportunity came when Marcel Jemio, Chair of the Fiscal Service Data Stewards at the US Treasury Dept. (and a Forrester client), invited me to a presentation Jeff gave at a special internal event at the Fiscal Service in Washington, D.C. So of course I leapt at the opportunity! Marcel opened the session with an overview of why Treasury is interested in data and analytics: Treasury is charged with helping the nation guard against the kind of national or global financial collapse that triggered the 2007-2009 recession. Therefore it’s crucial that the stewards of the nation’s financial data, like Marcel and his colleagues, continuously improve the insights we gain from this data.
I attended the third annual Canonical Model Management Forum, May 14-15, 2012, hosted by DigitalML at the hip Washington Plaza Hotel again this year. I saw even more signs than last year that canonical models are key to API layers that many firms are building to promote integration. But first, let me share some data from Forrester’s last survey on canonical modeling adoption that I presented at the forum:
As our data shows, this practice is becoming increasingly widespread in firms publishing services that deliver information. Some of the trends I highlighted in last year’s forum post are even more evident this year, such as canonical models’ increasing use in data access layers, as I depicted with this slide:
As Forrester has pointed out in past research, to move forward in a product-centric way, you must establish a number of capabilities in your organization in a product-centric operating model:
I used to make a living doing product management and running product management organizations, as did a number of people at Forrester. My perspective on product management is somewhat distinct because I started out on the product engineering side, leading product development organizations. But between my first ISV and my second, I saw the contrast between weak, ineffective product management and strong, effective product management. When strong product management is in balance with an effective engineering group, well aligned, it’s a beautiful thing to see. The weak option? You don’t want to know – it was too painful to remember.
Is it hard to focus your software delivery organization on the right things? Do you sometimes deliver the wrong features or give too little priority to the most important features? Are you drowning in the cost of too much redundant software, because stakeholders can’t get on one page about what the business really needs? Do you struggle to make the case for investments you know are essential to your long-term survival but that deliver few short-term benefits? If so, consider the benefits of running your shop more like a business by reorganizing to deliver products (or value streams, in Lean lingo).
It’s been more than two years since we last surveyed software delivery leaders about their increasing tendency to organize to deliver software as products (rather than projects or application functional areas), but even then this trend was well under way:
I have only anecdotal evidence that this trend is continuing to grow, but I’m convinced by hundreds of interactions with top software delivery leaders since we did this survey that it is, especially for people who deliver customer-facing websites and mobile apps. Customer-facing dynamics are also driving this trend for the “Internet of things” among firms focused on Smart Grid and other similar domains that depend on customer adoption to drive success. What are the factors driving this growth?
My colleague John Rymer expects platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technology to “cross the chasm” into mainstream status over the next three years (2012-2014). Today, PaaS solutions, which provide application development and deployment tools abstracted from the underlying cloud infrastructure on which they run your apps, fall into four types: 1) Pure cloud integrated development environments (IDEs); 2) Traditional IDEs that offer the option of cloud deployment; 3) IDE-neutral cloud runtimes that can run apps built by multiple types of IDEs; and 4) PaaS solutions designed for use by business developers. John sees all four of these categories aiming to cross the chasm in this timeframe but doesn’t expect all four segments to succeed in making that transition.
Why does this matter? PaaS is one of the easiest and most productive ways to take advantage of cloud economics, and the elasticity of the cloud, by providing an easily consumable elastic app platform. Today, most apps for the cloud either lack the ability to automatically scale up or down in their use of cloud resources, based on demand, or else gain that ability through complex programming to low-level APIs and frameworks. PaaS provides access to the cloud without all the drama. Only through taking full advantage of these attributes of the cloud can your business realize the full benefits the cloud theoretically provides.
Dan Simpson understands business transformation - and the critical role the customer plays in it. Before joining Trustmark, Dan led the Enterprise Technology Group at Physicians Mutual in Omaha, Neb., where he was the driving force behind the company’s business transformation strategy and the Greenfield program, which implemented new customer-centric business processes, service-oriented architecture (SOA), a new enterprise data warehouse, and several key business applications. For these efforts, Dan was recognized as Technology Chief of the Year in 2010 by the Applied Information Management Institute.
Q: What are the business challenges and issues that typically motivate the need for business and IT transformation?
Dan Simpson: Common challenges facing business today include changes in market conditions, consumer behavior, and the regulatory environment as well as increasing competition and complexity. The inability to adapt to these changes drives the need to put new business process and technology foundations in place.
Q: How have you approached business process redesign?
Dan Simpson: The most effective approach is to focus on business process first before diving into systems. Depending on specific situations, I’ve seen great value in taking an approach where processes redesign starts and ends with the customer. This customer-driven approach helps drive customer-friendly decisions and efficiencies.
Q: What is a customer-driven application, and why is that concept important to transformation outcomes?
At a recent roundtable discussion with Forrester’s leading application development & delivery (ADD) and customer experience analysts, my colleagues and I explored the topic of how application delivery must change to address the age of the customer. Today’s customers have tremendous influence and reach through social media, more options and choices for whom to buy from, and high expectations about how they want to be served. In response to this new reality, we see many businesses making moves to dramatically increase their focus on the customer experience. These shifting priorities bring huge changes to application delivery organizations, as ADD professionals must now embrace the customer-centric skills, culture, and processes essential to success in the age of the customer.
Mike Gualtieri: As application development professionals, we’re often asked by the business to design a very focused app. As such, we’re often not in a position where we can think about that bigger picture. Sometimes, we’re just told that we need to develop an app for this. And that’s our job; that’s what we have to do, and we have to do the best we can. Would you recommend that we try to think bigger and then push back on the business when they ask us to do that?
To succeed in today's turbulent business environment, enterprises must drive deeper customer engagement, connecting empowered customers to the valuable services they want across multiple touchpoints. This crucial shift to an outside-in focus, however, brings new demands and challenges to the application development and delivery organization. On June 13, 2011, Forrester convened a group of expert analysts to discuss:
How application delivery should partner with marketing to drive deeper customer engagement through the entire life cycle across multiple touchpoints.
Best practices for application development to design and deliver improved customer experiences.
How to reconcile the need for stronger design with agile processes and continuous delivery.
How to optimize your mobile application strategy to serve empowered customers.
How to exploit emerging application platforms, including cloud, to empower customers and the business to enable rapid change.
Are you winning? No, this is not about Charlie Sheen! I mean, are you one of the “fortunate” ones leading application delivery in a firm that is winning?
Today’s economy is a mix of winners and losers, with winners weighted strongly toward firms, industries, and regions experiencing rapid growth in customer demand for experiences that integrate their lives across multiple digital (mobile, web, …) and physical (retail, auto, …) touchpoints. App delivery leaders experiencing this rapid growth would say it is “the best of times,” except for how hard it is to keep up — the business demands more and more, faster and faster! So “winning” can be a mixed blessing in software, too:
Relevant Advice For “Winning” App Delivery Leaders