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The current trend towards digital transformation presents an array of challenges for many companies for the same reason that delivering a truly amazing digital experience can be difficult to produce in a repeatable and sustainable manner.  Some of the questions companies have to entertain are:

  • What does it mean to make your business digital? 
  • Is it the experience that drives the brand?  Or the services?  
  • What approach should you take? 
  • How can I personalize every customer touch point? 
  • What benefits can you expect? 
  • How do we maintain digital velocity on an ongoing basis? 
  • How do we get our employees on board? 

The questions are many and the answers can be difficult to obtain.  Every digital transformation is initially defined by business goals and can force a company to evaluate and redefine who they truly are and how their users interact with their services.  One key area of digital transformation that can be easily overlooked, but can deliver tremendous value, is APIs.

APIs Are the Secret Sauce to Becoming Digital

There are various services, today providing powerful APIs, including Backbone’s Expression platform. Users can benefit from a highly flexible and powerful API layer that helps businesses connect and reach out across the internet while controlling their data.  From a 30,000-foot view, APIs are the secret sauce to becoming digital.  APIs are effectively the gatekeepers of your digital identity and products.

How?  From the tactical view, APIs are the public portals that developers use to access data from your services, and they define how different websites and apps interact with your digital products behind the scenes.  For example, if you want to integrate PayPal or Stripe, you need to enable your services to talk to theirs to complete various payment transactions.  While this is a basic example that many companies are already doing today, the point is that APIs provide a critical foundation for user activity to occur and allow your users and developers to communicate behind the scenes. From a strategic level, APIs provide an avenue for innovation to accelerate, while also reducing barriers within an organization.  With more innovation and reduced friction, you can concentrate on more important tasks like improving your customer experiences and provide for more agility to respond to marketplace changes.

Your Digital Strategy

How do you find your digital strategy for using APIs?   Perhaps the best question to start with is what does it mean for your business to become digital?   At Backbone, we believe that the answer is a “digital business is about creating value by delivering exceptional digital experiences.”  During every engagement the goal is to provide a framework that reduces the cost of change and supports new business initiatives.

APIs Remove Barriers

So, how can APIs be part of your digital transformation and how do they reduce the cost of change?  In addition to being a technology protocol or mechanism, APIs are also enablers of creativity..  By building your digital world with capable APIs, you remove barriers and allow users to access your services or features by simply allowing them to connect with you.  Of course, just connecting to your APIs isn’t enough for true digital success.  Critical to this, is using APIs to have visibility into your data and understand what is happening with your users during these interactions.  When any of Backbone’s customers are working on a digital transformation, we work with them to do a wide range of analysis that includes research, talking with internal/external developers and understanding their requirements, obtaining customer feedback and then applying the framework and lessons learned into a digital strategy.

At this point, it is important to note that defining your business strategy is more art than science, but working with a partner, or employee, who has sufficient data literacy.  This allows you to take the various learnings and deliver a “connected experience” across your entire digital ecosystem.

Getting Started with APIs

Going back to the original question of how do you find your strategy for APIs, and knowing that we can find our digital strategy through a defined process, the next best step is to simply get started. But where is the best place to start now that we have decided that we want to do this?  Based on our experience, looking at the user interface and overall user experience to determine how APIs can be used is critical to every digital transformation. Every project will be unique, but it is safe to say that your first steps should be to build the APIs and web application in an interactive and iterative way.  In our next article we'll look at how you integrate APIs into your UX to begin delivering an amazing digital experience.  




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