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Digital transformation framework means customers first, open APIs

Many organizations attempting to formulate their digital transformation strategy are focused on the technology, but it also involves thinking about customers and opening up APIs.

Many companies find themselves in the middle of drawing the roadmap for creating their digital transformation framework. However, making this happen requires more than simply moving things to the cloud or forcing developers to work faster. Experts advise that a corporate culture change is needed, and that encompasses bridging organizational gaps, focusing on the customer and, perhaps, opening up more of your APIs.

In this Q&A, Shawn Ryan, vice president of product marketing for digital as a service at Axway Inc., shares his thoughts on what it takes to tailor a digital transformation framework for success.

As you help companies with their digital transformation framework, what do you find are the biggest parts of making that switch?

Shawn Ryan: There are two personas that we find ourselves bridging: the enterprise architect and the developer. The developers say, 'Get out of my way, let me build what I need to build.' And then the architect [is responsible for] security and implementing policy. So, bridging both of those personas is a first step in talking about managing the full lifecycle.

[But] the companies that are being bold are looking at the buyer's journey and opening up APIs. IT becomes an enabler by leveraging and publishing APIs as DevOps-ready data. Developers can then consume those. And it's not only for internal developers, but the external developers [that help] an organization come together with other constituents … co-innovation starts to happen [and] opening up the organization. Let's think outside, embrace co-innovation from other organizations that buyers may encounter.

When you talk about co-innovation, does that go as far as to share APIs or share certain data that might not have been shared before?

Ryan: Absolutely. It's opening up data through APIs to allow for innovation.

And do you find that it takes a leap of faith from organizations that are used to maintaining a certain amount of security and protection around their data and around certain APIs?

If you're not putting the customer at the center, you're missing the essence of what's needed for transformation.
Shawn RyanVP of product marketing for digital as a service, Axway

Ryan: Yes, it does. But you find the companies that are recognizing the need to innovate are looking at customer experience as a whole. They are recognizing the need to move ahead and are organizing themselves to act as a startup within the enterprise … mobilizing teams within to act as startups and to be disruptive.

So, it does take a special type, and I would say more and more organizations are recognizing … that has to happen.

For the companies trying to create a meaningful digital transformation framework, what's your best advice to them on an organizational level, such as how to manage policies or how they think about organizing their teams?

Ryan: Put the customer first. Allow that customer view in and then leverage it to brainstorm and work on ideas to create new value for the customer.

The technology needs to support that. Implement DevOps support as you build, create microservices and create security policies [that exist] across the lifecycle. But if you're not putting the customer at the center, you're missing the essence of what's needed for transformation.

And digital that's successful is going to change our lives in a way that we may not notice at first, but it makes life so much easier. You've got plenty of the classic examples of that, like Uber and whatnot.

Next Steps

How to ensure secure API use and sharing in the enterprise

Why a customer-focused strategy matters more than digital transformation hype

How enterprises can improve customer focus using intelligent systems

This was last published in March 2017

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