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Overcoming a Digital Transformation Challenge. Part 2 – Implementation.

Posted on: August 6, 2018

by Kevin Jervis, Chief Architect @ Ricston

In the previous article, we discussed that modern hybrid connectivity platforms and an API-led approach can help overcome the digital transformation challenge, or rather 3 challenges: an IT delivery gap, no well defined target state and “path dependency”. BUT this can only be achieved when supported by a cultural shift along with organisational changes. The importance of combining these elements cannot be stressed enough.

I believe there are some clear indicators that highlight the problems associated with the application of MuleSoft’s (or any other) platform in isolation without due consideration for the broader organisational changes. The creation of APIs in an incoherent and unsustainable way ultimately leads the organisation down a path where it struggles to realise significant and tangible value from its digital assets in the way that it should.

So what are the underlying pillars that support successful digital transformation?

Firstly it’s very important for organisations to identify the key objectives of their API Strategy. Most often these objectives would include:

  • Increase in productivity and agility through self-service IT
  • Increase in speed of delivering business initiatives and innovation
  • Growth of revenue and decreased operational costs

Trying to do all of them at the same time though, tends to significantly impact the progress of what is realistically achievable in a given timescale. So really it’s about understanding which one or two key objectives can drive tangible outcomes for your most critical business initiatives and focusing on those easier wins.

The strategy will be your guideline in order to prioritise projects and business demands in the pipeline based on additional value they provide to your overall platform. This strategy needs to be well communicated and socialised so that delivery teams understand the values on which they will be measured.

Secondly a true API led connectivity platform must also address how the digital capabilities are built, deployed and operated. MuleSoft’s platform provides a baseline technology, but in the most successful organisations we see this coupled with a persistent focus on driving increased levels of automation, reliability, consistency, and ease with which new digital capabilities and APIs can be released into production.

This requires addressing a number of technical capabilities and processes supplemental to MuleSoft’s platform that are centered around:

  • An agile product delivery approach;
  • A DevOps process for both developing and operating these APIs;
  • Supporting continuous integration and continuous delivery practices, as well as Infrastructure as Code and/or containerisation to automate release and deployment pipelines as much as possible;
  • And then bundling in 3rd party products and capabilities such as ChatOps and Log Analytics to provide full lifecycle management and end-to-end monitoring.

By taking this approach, organisations accelerate their time to value through increasing the quality and throughput of their delivery teams on the platform; and thus increase their internal clock speed and the rate at which they can respond to the changing demands of the business.

Going into many organisations today I see the reality is that they seem to be delivering technical capabilities for projects and making the business successful in some capacity, but they are really not maximising the value being invested into their API platform.

That is why the third important theme is really around tracking progress and measuring what organisational value is being achieved.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the dogma:

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.”
( Attributed to Peter Drucker)

What the adage is trying to get across is that things tend to improve when you measure and track progress. Similarly how can you be confident of whether or not you are successful and meeting the objectives of your API Strategy, unless success is defined and tracked?

The measurements you set up can vary from number of outstanding integration backlog items, to the number of API’s consumers, to the average delivery time for product MVP, and more.

But If the capabilities delivered are not meeting the value-add indicators defined by your API strategy, this means one of two things:

  1. You’re not completely successful or effective in terms of the digitals assets you are trying to deliver; there are improvements that could be made.
  2. OR it actually means the API Strategy is not really reflecting what the business wants to achieve and so that needs to be revisited and course corrected.

So if you are not measuring against these kinds of objectives how can you be sure you’re really delivering effectively or not leaving untapped value on the table?

The measurement aspect effectively allows you to benchmark the API connectivity platform and act as a roadmap to progress, identifying those areas in need of improvement!

Let me leave you with some final thoughts:

  • If you’re already operating an API led connectivity platform and creating digital assets, how is that working out for you based on the insights I’ve shared.
  • Where should you focus and what should you put in place to achieve greater value on the assets you’re implementing?
  • And If you’re just starting an API led connectivity journey, how might you address some of the ‘gotchas’ highlighted? What are the key value propositions you could install on day one to drive the right degree of adoption and culture?

If you would like to learn more about Digital Assets and how they can create value for your business, I invite you to join our  webinar that is now available on demand:

Digital Assets, Creating Value?

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Ricston Ltd.
Triq G.F. Agius De Soldanis,
Birkirkara, BKR 4850,
Malta
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