IT leaders tell all on making digital transformation work
Our MuleSoft CONNECT 2019 series concluded last month, so we wanted to highlight some takeaways from one of our favorite sessions. At CONNECT New York, a panel of IT leaders shared their journeys around building successful digital transformation programs. Below, we’ve pulled the top 3 tips from Eileen Rizzo, SVP, IT at Ashley Stewart, and Betty Smith, Vice President of Enterprise Integration Services at New York Life.
Showcase business value to get buy-in from the board
Businesses with cutting-edge integration strategies have raised the bar with faster project delivery, lower operational costs, and brand new revenue streams. However, technology teams often struggle to rally their organizations behind a new integration approach because they forget to set aside the time to clearly illustrate the business problem and communicate the potential value of a new technology strategy.
Eileen: “I actually laid out an entire vision and roadmap illustrating how an API-led approach was going to make us more flexible, more agile, and allow us to move at the speed we needed to get things done for the business….The aha moment for [our leadership] was when I showed that data was continually being moved from system to system, adjusted in some shape or form, and then never being consolidated or aggregated to create a unified view. There was a lack of visibility, a lack of reporting, and multiple reports that were out of sync. It was clear we could do more with our data.”
Betty: “Everything your technology does should be providing business value, solving business problems. If you are just starting on your API journey, start small. Find a couple of areas that are pain points for the business — even if they are areas that do not rise to the top on the priority list in terms of funding — then demonstrate how an API can solve that problem fairly quickly. That will get the business excited and drive momentum….One of the most important touch-points we’ve built in to the organization is a joint business and technology forum, comprised of all of our senior leaders within the company, both from the business side and the technology side. We meet twice a month for multiple hours and spend a lot of time identifying business priorities and sequencing our work to align with those priorities.”
Get an API strategy ASAP
Whether you’re looking to build a single view of your customer, drive business automation, modernize legacy systems, move to the cloud, or streamline SaaS integration, every major IT undertaking can benefit from an API strategy. Introducing APIs as building blocks for digital products brings focus to an organization’s digital transformation.
Betty: “An API roadmap is absolutely critical….Having that vision, which we call our “architecture look-ahead,” allows us to be 3-6 months out from when our systems of engagement will need to leverage the APIs were building….We’ve used the MuleSoft hierarchy approach to inform how we build our roadmap and design our APIs, so we have a number of system level APIs that are designed to work across our legacy systems. Those stay pretty stagnant and consistent across what we do. And then the innovative stuff comes really at the process and the experience levels.”
Eileen: “My one piece of advice would be if you don’t already have an API strategy, then you should really sit with your business leadership and understand what that 2-3 year roadmap or vision looks like, and then develop an architectural approach using data as a way to communicate to the business, ‘here’s what we can do to support you, and here’s the funding we’ll need.’ You have to do the cost-benefit analysis because the cost of continuing with legacy and point-to-point integration is far greater than the investment in API led.”
Embrace reuse to create new services
Building APIs and integrations for discovery and reuse frees time for increased innovation. A recent study on the ROI of MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform found that customers gain significant benefits from the ability to reuse APIs, significantly impacting their developers’ productivity and quadrupling the number of projects their teams could work on over the course of three years.
Eileen: “With the APIs that we built, all of the data is now centralized in a single repository. With real time feeds going through Mule and into the data store, we’ve been able to drive instant action for business....In the retail business, we create a product and then put it into stores and online. Putting a product online involves an additional data enrichment process: you’ve got product attribution, digital imagery, romance copy, that isn’t necessarily available in the physical store. But now with our new Point of Sales system, we’re going to aggregate all of the product data, and that same data that is distributed to the ecommerce system and to the POS can be used to arm my sales associates in the stores with the same level of information that the customer has for the product online. We never used to have this; it’s a tremendous selling tool...When you look at the role of the CIO, you have to be able to speak the business language and articulate how the technology can support the business use cases.”
Betty: “We started with the notion that we wanted to be able to reuse as much as possible to gain flexibility and get consistency. I think some of the things we put in place — in terms of the roadmap and how we’ve structured our teams to be sort of the evangelists around reusability and data consistency — have driven us to the outcome of this application network. We didn’t start there as our end goal, but it is the byproduct of being able to take all of these components and connect them together to build additional capabilities....The real value is speed to market, being able to deliver business capabilities faster than ever before, whether it be a self-service capability for customers or an internal business process that allows the business to go faster.”