Improving IT Management with an API Strategy
MuleSoft’s Connectivity Benchmark Report, a survey of 951 IT decision makers, revealed some difficult conundrums for IT managers to solve. Nearly 80 percent felt their teams were not adequately resourced to do the job. And the three biggest obstacles to achieving digital transformation were time constraints, maintaining legacy systems, and a misalignment between IT and the rest of the business.
IT management knows that saddling their teams with too many projects, with uninspiring work, and with the misunderstandings of their colleagues is a recipe for dissatisfaction and ultimately lack of retention. But with the project backlog growing ever longer, forces like SaaS and mobile to respond to, and increasing demands from the business, IT management finds itself in an ever-growing trap of figuring out how to respond to the needs of their business, manage IT projects, make their teams more productive and innovative, all while keeping the lights on and the trains running. It’s a juggling act.
Why the modern business environment places the burden on IT management
IT management finds itself at a crossroads. The modern business environment is hypercompetitive, hyperproductive, and hyper-innovative due to four key factors:
- The barriers for new companies to enter any market have dropped dramatically because the rapid deployment of the cloud, particularly infrastructure as a service, makes access to IT capacity inexpensive and massively scalable
- The global adoption of mobile broadband combined with social media and ubiquitous messaging has redefined customer reach, engagement, distribution and service
- Capital, particularly in developing markets, is readily available, and investors are happy to distribute capital to anyone with an innovative idea, wherever they may come from
- Globalization is forcing companies for the first time to be both low-cost operators (due to the decreased costs of infrastructure and distribution) and incredibly innovative and responsive
Unlike at any point in history, in today’s global economy companies have to be both innovative and a low-cost provider. The responsibility for executing this strategy often falls on IT management, as technology is seen to be the silver bullet for modernizing companies. That’s a great position in many ways for IT decision makers, but when the relationship between IT and the rest of the business resembles a sales clerk and a customer, it can create the misalignment that IT decision makers in our survey refer to and a lack of productivity as the endless project requests pile up.
How IT management can solve the problem
IT management needs to move away from the idea that they must deliver all things to everyone in the business to becoming an enabler of the business to self-serve its own technology projects. This is done not by creating projects again and again and again, but creating reusable, composable capabilities that can be broken apart and reused to deliver projects anywhere in the business. This is done through a strategy called API-led connectivity.
API-led connectivity is an API strategy that prioritizes long-term composability and reusability over short-term project completion. With API-led connectivity, deliver on today’s projects just as fast as the traditional approach, while also building an infrastructure that allows new projects to be delivered even faster. This contrasts with the traditional project-based approach to IT delivery, which emphasizes meeting deadlines and budget requirements over long-term, strategic development.
Short-term project-oriented thinking can lead to a bottleneck for IT management as the tactics required to get there — one-off point-to-point code, brittle architecture, and a bigger delivery debt — pave a “road to hell.”
IT Management and sustained agility
With API-led connectivity as opposed to a project-based approach, IT management can deliver projects on time and on budget, but rather than simply creating a single project, you have created the building blocks to break the product apart into its component microservices and build them again using APIs. API-led connectivity has created an infrastructure that is built for change and flexibility. And, because the APIs that form the glue for these projects have their own full lifecycle that IT management has visibility into and governance over, compliance and security are built into every project.
This is the infrastructure that will allow IT management to get away from their teams being the sole provider of technology projects and instead transform into an enabler of the rest of the business to delivering their own projects to meet business needs.
API-led connectivity enables IT management to still meet delivery timelines and budgets, but it also liberates resources to help teams innovate and to move more quickly. The pace of development can actually accelerate further from your second project onwards, due to reusable assets and a built-up organizational capability for change. What IT management is building, with API-led connectivity, is an infrastructure for sustained agility.
Find out more about how to close the IT delivery gap and a roadmap to sustained agility with our whitepaper, Closing the IT Delivery Gap.