Survey Reveals How Huge Opportunities Remain to Digitally Transform With APIs

With 2016 well underway, MuleSoft, the company behind the Anypoint Platform for API Management, decided to take a survey of IT decision makers (ITDMs) from across the globe to find out how things are going with respect to various organizations' plans for Digital Transformation. The survey also looked to get a pulse on where those organizations stand in terms of both implementing and planning for APIs (Disclosure: MuleSoft is the parent company to ProgrammableWeb).

Broadly speaking, “digital transformation” is a journey that begins with an organization's large monolithic applications (many of which are tightly integrated in such a fashion that nothing can be easily or quickly modified in response to changing market conditions) and ends with a collection of re-usable software components that can be efficiently, cost effectively, and quickly, and selectively recomposed into mobile and behind-the-firewall applications that keep an organization competitive.

"Digital transformation” and “APIs” are often mentioned in the same breath given how the services-oriented nature of APIs is what drives the reusability of those software components. The downloadable results of MuleSoft’s research footnotes the definition of “digital transformation” as referring "to the changes associated with the application of digital technology. Examples include a brick-and-mortar store creating an online store, a traditional utility company developing a smart home strategy, and a retail store creating a multi-channel solution to deliver an integrated customer experience.” The most efficient solutions to any of the aforementioned objectives typically involve API-driven service-orientation and software-reusability.

The survey revealed some surprising notes that will likely give comfort to those organizations who are behind in terms of the digital transformation goals, but that also highlight the untapped opportunity for forward thinking IT professionals, consultancies, and solution providers who can help such organizations expedite their journeys to a much more cost effective, organizationally-efficient, and agile future.

For example, while 91% of ITDMs have implemented an API strategy or plan to do so by the end of 2016, very few organizations (5%) have completed their goals for digital transformation and a surprising minority (18%) are very confident that they'll even achieve the digital transformation objectives that were established for this year.

So, why such a huge gap? Investment doesn’t necessarily seem to be the problem. Judging by their increased investment in information technology (72% reported a bigger budget than in 2015), the survey essentially revealed that most organizations view technology as being critical to their ability to compete in the future. The answer is one that we’ve been hearing about for over two-decades. Nearly half of the survey’s respondents (45%) cited business and IT misalignment as the top challenge to successful business transformation with 63% saying it’s a major problem in very large organizations.

MuleSoft Survey Graphic

Source: MuleSoft Connectivity Benchmark Report, May 2016

Furthermore, lack of a holistic understanding of what it means to digitally transform seems to be nagging most organizations. For example, more respondents (82%) cited “going paperless” as the top driver of digital transformation than any other reason. While such document origination efforts certainly constitute an important transformation, the fact that it was cited as the number one driver of digital transformation points to too literal an interpretation of “digital transformation” and could mean that not enough ITDMs have fully embraced its broader definition. 

The survey contains many more interesting results; too many to enumerate here. Some of the other data you will find includes:

  • Expected project turnaround times
  • The top technologies that ITDMs are turning to (ie: Cloud apps)
  • How various countries are fairing in the race towards digital transformation (APIs, Internet of Things, etc)
  • The extent to which legacy IT is holding back digital transformation efforts
  • How IT is bearing the brunt of the pressure to unlock untapped revenue potential

Be sure to read the next API Management article: ProgrammableWeb's New API Directory Data Model Explained