Phy-gital Roundtable: Breakfast Roundup from Germany and Netherlands

02 May '15 | Debjyoti Paul

German Shoppers: Meet Them in the Fast Lane to Phy-gital

15 January '15 | Ralf Reich

Shoppers Will Share Personal Information (But They Don’t Want to be “Friends”)

15 January '15 | Anil Venkat

Modernize or Perish: Property and Casualty Insurers and IT Solutions

14 January '15 | Manesh Rajendran

Benelux Reaches the Phy-gital Tipping Point: Omnichannel Readiness is Crucial

13 January '15 | Anil Gandharve

The New Omnichannel Dynamic: Finding Core Principles Across Industries

13 January '15 | Debjyoti Paul

Technology does not disrupt business – CIO day 2014 Roundup

02 December '14 | Anshuman Singh

Apple Pay – The Best Is Yet To Come

02 December '14 | Indy Sawhney

Digital transformation is a business transformation enabled by technology

01 December '14 | Amit Varma

3 Stages of FATCA Testing and Quality Assurance

06 October '14 | Raman Suprajarama

3 Reasons why Apple Pay could dominate the payments space

18 September '14 | Gaurav Johri

Beacon of Hope: Serving Growth and Customer Satisfaction

05 August '14 | Debjyoti Paul

The Dos and Don’ts of Emerging Technologies Like iBeacon

30 July '14 | Debjyoti Paul

What You Sold Us On – eCommerce Award Finalist Selections

17 July '14 | Anshuman Singh

3 Steps to Getting Started with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

04 June '14 | Koushik Ramani

8 Steps to Building a Successful Self Service Portal

03 June '14 | Giridhar LV

Innovation outsourced – a myth or a mirage or a truth staring at us?

13 January '14 | Ramesh Hosahalli

What does a mobile user want?

03 January '14 | Gopikrishna Aravindan

Scale Out, Not Up, With APIs

Posted on: 25 May '15
Dinesh Sharma
Chief Architect, Digital Business

Historically, the model to increase an enterprise’s revenue was-to put it plainly-add more. Launch more products, open more locations, print and mail more catalogs, run more advertisements, and so on. If the company wanted to grow, it needed to invest and scale up its processes, systems, human resources and physical presence.

Today, that model is being complemented, and some would say challenged, by a new one. “Scale out” is the new model that organizations are increasingly adopting as a growth strategy, and it starts within the IT department.

With businesses increasingly becoming digital, their information assets can more easily be shared and, essentially, tinkered with by third parties. Why would you want a third party tinkering with your valuable proprietary data? Because recent history has shown that it can lead to unexpected innovation and multi-fold growth.

APIs Bring Unexpected Innovation

The primary driver of this trend is the application program interface, or API. Essentially, it is a piece of computer code that allows software programs and systems to interact with each other in some fashion. When considered in the context of the open source movement, APIs allow programmers to make new applications that tie in to existing applications or data sets created by other entities.

This is very popular for social media sites-APIs that allow readers of a local news website contribute to the “Comments” section via their Facebook profiles. Or a sports site that displays a live Twitter feed of tweets related to a specific football game while that game is going on. But APIs are creeping into traditional businesses as well, and the results are often remarkable.

For example, A fortune 50 retailer opened up to developers select parts of its IT infrastructure, such as catalogue, pricing and supply chain information. The developers, who got a piece of any revenue they helped generate, were able to spread this retailer’s product information to new markets, roping in more than $1 billion in extra revenue. Or, we did a consulting engagement for a leading bank to define API strategy that would enable exposing certain data (historical and aggregated) to a select developer community. The Open Bank API platform is shaping up to be an ‘App Store’ like platform where developers and entrepreneurs can build innovative apps that can connect to any bank API that adheres to its standards. There are many more such examples.

Take the Leap and Wait for Results

It’s time for traditional businesses-whether in retail or finance or travel/hospitality and others-to open up their digital assets to the emerging niche of tech startups and developer communities. These new players will build innovative products and offer innovative services by using the deep expertise that enterprises have built over decades. This is akin to a new model of crowdsourcing for businesses, where the organizations give innovative entrepreneurs among the crowd the digital assets they need to build solutions, products and services that exploit (in the very best way) that enterprise’s knowledge, expertise, and infrastructure.

But for an enterprise to “scale out,” it’s imperative to build digital systems with an outside-in view. Businesses need to be able to easily expose their digital IT infrastructure in a self-service or “as a service” model. It must be secure, of course, and exposed to only the developers the business is comfortable with. But I truly believe that any digital system that is built or transformed NOW should be driven by an “API FIRST” principle, where the API will be treated as paramount rather than an afterthought.

  • Vinod Kumar Devi

    A framework for enabling enterprises their data and tools in a manner that will be secure and beneficial for both the businesses and the dev community will be the next logical step in this direction.