The “Now Economy” has fundamentally changed the way companies do business today, with real-time updates and automated processes considered a must-have rather than an added feature. Two major technological shifts are behind this change. The exponential growth of connected applications, devices and smart sensors provides a constant stream of data that savvy businesses can tap to create new opportunities. Customer expectations have also shifted, as mobile devices, social media and the proliferation of on-demand services have created a world where everything is right at our fingertips, whenever we want it. This change has implications well beyond the companies that traditionally consider themselves to be digital-focused enterprises.
In the Now Economy, all businesses need to reimagine their products and services as digital-first experiences augmented by the physical world. According to Gartner Vice President and Distinguished Analyst Jorge Lopez, the impact of this transformation will be felt across the economy.
“The fact is that digital business will disrupt all industries, and business executives, CIOs and technology providers will need to think differently to help their businesses avoid disruption,” Lopez wrote in a recent article. “This is a new world that makes the prior ones obsolete while creating massive opportunities for those who can visualize the opportunity.”
The new challenges posed by the “Now Economy”
So how can companies adapt to the new demands of the Now Economy? First, they must be able to deal with the enormous growth in connected people, applications and devices – a trend that is only expected to accelerate in the coming years. Gartner predicts that by 2020 more than seven billion people and at least 30 billion devices will be connected to the Internet, offering companies a wealth of Bi and opportunities for digital interaction if they have the right processes in place to capitalize on the moment. Although these new devices and endpoints have the capacity to connect, actually bringing them together to create an efficient and cohesive system that works seamlessly for the customer requires a new approach to integration.
The growing need for companies to quickly design, orchestrate and manage connections between the increasingly diverse collection of apps, devices and data across their business was underscored by the recent news that TIBCO had purchased the API management platform Mashery. TIBCO’s decision to buy into the agile, cloud-based integration approach that Mashery has developed recognizes that legacy on-premises integration solutions can no longer keep up with the demands of the highly connected enterprise. Instead, companies are turning to platforms that leverage the speed and scalability of the cloud to power every step of the integration process in real time, without dedicating significant IT resources to the effort.
Although the Mashery acquisition demonstrates how fast and agile connectivity has become a necessity for the modern enterprise, the important role business users now play in the integration ecosystem has largely been overlooked. Most integration solutions today are designed for developers, laying the responsibility for innovating in the API economy squarely on the shoulders of the IT department. But the shift towards applications tailor-made for business users renders this approach obsolete.
Business users – the people who have the most familiarity with the company’s ERP and CRM systems, its marketing automation tools or its product life cycle management solution – will be key innovators when it comes to finding new revenue sources and opportunities for efficiency in the API economy. To manage the growing network of endpoints that comprise today’s digital businesses, and to orchestrate additional integration as new technologies and opportunities arise, companies must look to business users across different departments to take the lead.x
APIs are a business model and business users need greater input
Sharing information by orchestrating and managing APIs has become a key part of the business model for modern companies, and it makes sense to give business users, who are most familiar with the applications and data, greater control over how these connections are established.
For example, empowering the financial analyst to orchestrate and manage access to the company’s inventory data through its ERP solution and sales forecasts through its CRM solution enables the type of real-time feedback that guides smarter business decisions. Giving sales leaders the ability to create a live connection to data on how customers are using the company’s e-commerce platform can open up new revenue channels. Enabling business development leaders to expose pricing and availability data to resellers in a secure manner can lead to faster, more profitable partnerships. These examples clearly demonstrate the importance of tools that empower experts to turn their expertise into business results.
Companies that want to win in the Now Economy must recognize that internal users, partners and customers will continue to expect more real-time data and increasingly automated processes in the months and years to come. Taking an agile approach to integration that allows business users as well as developers to design, manage and orchestrate these connections will set the stage for companies to realize the new opportunities emerging in the Now Economy. Real-time connectivity affects every aspect of the enterprise today; to maximize business potential in the API economy, we need to give everyone a seat at the integration table.
George Gallegos was named CEO of Jitterbit in 2011 after previously serving as a founding member of C3, a Tom Siebel venture in energy and carbon management, and VP of worldwide sales at Cast Iron Systems, now part of IBM. He is a former regional VP at Oracle. He has 18 years of enterprise sales and management experience.