Quiss: IT departments are struggling to deliver projects

A recent report by US software giant MuleSoft, highlighted the degree to which businesses around the world are finding it difficult to take full advantage of the benefits of digital transformation.

The organisations in question were all enterprise sized, with at least 1,000 employees and IT teams to match. But according to the report, the majority entered 2020 with a backlog of unfinished projects and in the UK 76% of those questioned admitted they had been unable to deliver IT projects on time.

When quizzed, most IT departments pinned the blame on a shortage of three things – time, money and interestingly, skills.

Half of the organisations expected their IT project workload to increase by 40% in 2020, while their budget would only increase by 10%, which left most admitting they spend nearly 70% of their working day simply keeping the cursor moving, rather than working on development and innovation.

This has resulted in two thirds of IT decision makers admitting they had difficulty introducing new technologies into their business due to the poor state of their current IT infrastructure.

Dealing with the problem

A tool available to organisations to help more exploit the business benefits of digital transformation is the humble Application Programming Interface (API), which in simple terms allows two applications to ‘talk’ to each other.

It simplifies and streamlines integration between the hundreds of different applications a business might use within its own IT infrastructure and also between its applications and those external applications that have to be worked with.

Eighty per cent of the organisations covered in the MuleSoft report stated that they grasped the power of APIs and the potential they had to transform a business, but only a very few of them had gone as far as adopting a strategic, joined-up approach to utilising APIs.

Effective use of APIs will help organisations embed digital transformation, combining the capabilities of different products in a manner unique to their specific needs, or even creating new products to boost efficiency across every part of their business.

It’s not too complicated for example, even without coding experience, to create an API which extracts your organisation’s social media output and expresses it as a data driven spreadsheet that offers a strategic picture of how your business is engaging or not with clients and prospects.     

The Different Types of API

APIs are nothing new, but in recent years we have seen rapid growth in the API space, which continues to evolve thanks to mass exposure and general appeal beyond core groups of developers who deal with them on a daily basis.

  • North-South APIs – export data and communicate with external services or from one computer to another
  • East-West APIs – enable communication between the microservices which actually implement the functions within an app
  • Mobile APIs – enable the functioning of mobile applications
  • External APIs – these APIs make it possible for an app to incorporate external services into its functionality

It’s important to remember that APIs now play a huge role in providing the services offered by tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.

APIs are also hard at work whenever you make use of popular services such as Quickbooks, eBay, SalesForce and WordPress, and help facilitate everything from consuming media and publishing content to gathering and applying the algorithms that drive virtually every contemporary online interaction.

APIs power desktop applications and the majority of web based applications – when you browse a website or use a web application, it’s likely the application is using APIs to fetch the page content, enabling data from any number of domains to be transmitted to the end user across a single page. 

APIs and the Internet of Things

The fact that APIs make up the basic building blocks of all mobile applications means that it’s easy to take their existence for granted, but the rise of the hyper-connected Internet of Things (IOT) provides a case study of how revolutionary their impact can be.

Every time a device such as a fitness tracker or ‘smart’ refrigerator pings information back and forth from the cloud, APIs make the communication and exchange of data possible - a device that would once have been an isolated piece of technology now becomes part of an evolving eco-system of capabilities.

Businesses should be considering what this level of connected data and function sharing could do to transform the way they do things if they use APIs effectively. Get it right, and the IT projects forming a backlog during 2020 could be completed and built upon before we’re even moving into 2021.

And it goes without saying, if you have stalled IT projects and need advice on how APIs might get you back on track, then please get in touch and we’ll find time in our innovation suite to discuss your options.

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