How APIs Can Help Rebuild Customer Relationships Going Forward Prior to the global crisis, many businesses struggled to effectively execute digital transformation strategies

By Rob Thorne

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Businesses across the globe have had to radically rethink how they operate and interact with their customers in recent times. While the impact will be varied and, for some businesses, volatile, there is a definitive need, now more than ever, to digitize with speed and scale in order to thrive and rebuild revenue.

Prior to the global crisis, many businesses struggled to effectively execute digital transformation strategies. In fact, MuleSoft's Connectivity Benchmark Report revealed that only 12 per cent of organizations surveyed have a company-wide API strategy. While this period in time has rapidly accelerated digital transformation journeys for many businesses in the region, the pressing question that's on many leaders' minds now is how to move forward and ensure their digital transformation roadmaps are equipped for a post-pandemic world.

As more and more new business users emerge in the wake of the pandemic, there is a need to amplify the implementation and reuse of APIs. Outside of IT, the top three business roles with integration needs include business analysts (46 per cent), HR (46 per cent), sales (40 per cent) and marketing (40 per cent).

In order to facilitate the democratization of technical integration, the perception of IT's role in business needs to urgently change, and priorities need to be re-evaluated. Digital transformation is achievable once businesses understand how an API-led roadmap can help manage priorities and deliver customer-centric initiatives quickly.

Innovation is top priority for enterprises that are looking to prepare themselves for the new normal, but it is also a challenge. Consumers' expectations and behaviours have rapidly evolved this year, increasing the pressure for businesses to keep pace. Those that were already struggling to manage legacy systems with more modern architecture could find themselves falling behind at an even faster rate now, as the rest of the business world sprints forward in the race for consumer engagement.

Building a strategy that leverages APIs will prepare businesses to be on the front foot no matter what challenges arise. It can help to improve the customer experience online, create efficiencies and provide opportunities to generate new revenue streams.

A recent report found that IT leaders report an average of 31 per cent of their company's revenue is generated from APIs. This number is set to increase as organizations begin to embrace the API economy and recognize its business value.

However, while revenue generation plays an integral role for most companies, the impact of APIs is far reaching as it enables transformation and agility at many levels. It deploys apps quickly, in a continuous way, which leads to a faster pace of delivery, enhancing the ability to create new and innovative experiences quickly.

The real opportunity of the API ecosystem lies in the ability to access and convert data into meaningful patterns that can attract customers, nurture employee relationships and improve digital experiences.

Within the first few weeks of the global crisis, the team at Mulesoft had already observed the impact that it was having on our stakeholders, communities and customers. We realize that important decisions had to be made, quickly, based on the data available—which was very fragmented then.

Companies from retail to healthcare have achieved major success through their open API approach, and we'll see a continuous uptake in this trend as businesses in other sectors begin to follow a similar strategy.

We built a COVID-19 data platform and created the Crisis Response Developer Portal, which includes carefully curated data and resources, which makes it easier to digest the data so that better decisions—such as a safe return to the workplace—can be made based on real-time information.

API-first platforms are designed to allow businesses greater freedom and flexibility, which is invaluable in times of crisis. They allow the transmission of data from system to system, creating connectivity and easy access to application data, device or cloud applications - like online shopping or buying a flight on your mobile device.

Brands like ASICS and Unilever have attested to the value of APIs in keeping pace with consumers' evolving expectations. Taking an API-led approach has successfully accelerated the execution of their respective ecommerce strategies, while removing bottlenecks and supporting line-of-business innovation.

Anypoint Platform redefines integrated systems that allows retailers to use APIs to better manage customer data, which enhances user experience by offering targeted personalisation. What would normally take months to build can now be completed in weeks, saving a lot of valuable time and resources.

This improved collaboration with the community enforces confidence and trust, and keeps customers coming back.

The pandemic has revealed the importance of digital transformation and preparedness, which enables business continuity during a crisis. An API management system will provide the right infrastructure to support the latest developments in technology that will remain critical for businesses to stay competitive in the new era.

Wavy Line
Rob Thorne

Senior vice-president, MuleSoft Asia Pacific & Japan at Salesforce

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