Five key trends shaping firms’ digital journeys as the transformation drive accelerates

Five key trends shaping firms’ digital journeys as the transformation drive accelerates

With the disruption brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic forcing organisations to digitise, Ian Fairclough, Vice President, EMEA Customer Success, Mulesoft, identifies five key developments that are shaping organisations’ digital journeys as they continue to address the pressures of Digital Transformation.

The urgency and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to organisations facing more pressure than ever to digitise. Global lockdowns have increased the demand for digital services and raised customer expectations for a frictionless experience. Agility and the ability to innovate quickly are now fundamental for organisations’ survival. This has prompted organisations to accelerate their Digital Transformation initiatives rapidly. Yet many have already seen that Digital Transformation requires more than simply investing in new technologies – it calls for a fundamental re-think of their existing IT operating models. There are five key trends that will shape organisations’ digital journeys as they continue to address these pressures.

Embracing a ‘digital ready’ culture

With customer expectation for a seamless digital experience at an all-time high, the idea of a ‘digital-ready culture’ has become increasingly important. This is characterised by an emphasis on new service delivery models, which enable organisations to engage with customers via their preferred channels. To do so requires a high level of agility and the ability to rapidly innovate to deliver the new digital capabilities that customers are calling for.

Organisations will therefore increasingly see the benefits of API-led connectivity for enabling reuse of existing digital capabilities, to speed up the delivery of new IT projects. Legal & General is already demonstrating the benefits of an API-led approach. It can now build products and services 2.5 times faster than before, by simply allowing its teams to adapt and reuse the same APIs for new projects. By reusing 60 to 70% of APIs across the organisation, Legal & General has dramatically accelerated its Digital Transformation roadmap, as its IT teams don’t have to start new projects from scratch each time.

Automating customer journeys

Customer experience initiatives such as improving query resolution times and simplifying the call centre journey have prompted organisations to take a closer look at automation. In principle, automating elements of customer engagement can deliver substantial benefits for the customer: methods such as self-authentication, for example, can enable customers to be put through to speak with the right service teams more quickly.

However, many organisations aren’t equipped to take advantage of automation. All too often, the practice of storing valuable customer data across disparate silos limits the effectiveness of automation capabilities. Breaking down these silos to unlock the value of customer data has therefore become a priority. APIs are critical in this regard. By placing APIs in front of data sources, organisations can draw out the relevant customer data from each one, enabling them to create a single view of the customer that drives more effective automation in their digital journey.

Reducing technical debt

The pandemic’s urgent challenges led to a surge in the number of new digital products and capabilities being developed. As a result, many organisations relied on point-to-point integrations as a means of quickly connecting systems and data. However, this option is not viable in the long run, as it can increase costs, limit agility and delay innovation due to tight couplings between systems.

Over the next year, we can expect to see a shift towards the use of APIs as a way for organisations to reduce the technical debt they’ve accumulated over the course of the pandemic. APIs create a loose coupling between applications, data, and devices, helping to support a faster pace of change to create new capabilities, without affecting the functionality of digital services or existing integrations.

Enabling ‘citizen integrators’

The rising demand for digital innovation highlights a key problem facing organisations this year: it is becoming more challenging for IT teams to keep pace with the needs of the business with the finite resources they have at their disposal.

To overcome this challenge, we can expect to see the rise of ‘citizen integrators’ as organisations empower non-technical teams to deliver their own digital projects. This will allow anyone in the organisation to compose new digital services without writing a single line of code. By using APIs, organisations will be able to reimagine their digital assets as a network of reusable capabilities that anyone can use, even without specialist skills. Enabling citizen integrators helps to free up time for IT departments to work on higher-value, strategic initiatives.

Using data more effectively

As customers’ circumstances are changing quickly throughout the pandemic, it is more important than ever for organisations to show empathy and adapt to their needs. Therefore, it should be a priority for organisations to use their data to create a single view of the customer. This will allow them to power personalised and connected digital experiences, which in turn will help organisations to respond to the needs of the customer with greater agility and more effectively.

As a result, we can expect data analytics to grow in importance. However, analytics is only successful when fuelled with a complete set of data that exposes the context behind an insight or trend. Therefore, organisations will prioritise their API strategies this year as they look to connect their systems and applications effectively, to enable them to maximise the value of their data by drawing information from a range of sources.

Few of us could have imagined how the pace of Digital Transformation would accelerate over the last 12 months, but the experience has highlighted the importance of being prepared. This year, we will see more organisations using APIs as a means of developing their resilience to future challenges. This will provide a way of tackling the immediate pressure for rapid transformation, while positioning organisations to be more agile to cope with ever-greater customer demands in the future.

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