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The CIO’s role is becoming more business-focused. As such, CIOs need to think more in terms of dollars and tangible business impact than ever before. MuleSoft experts recently published a framework to help IT leaders articulate the value of integration. In this blog series, we’ll go further into a significant integration value driver: the reusability of integration assets. Or, simply, reuse.

What is an integration asset?

First, let’s define what an asset is: according to Investopedia, an asset is “a resource with economic value that an individual, corporation, or country owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide a future benefit.”

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The concept of an asset can apply to integration as well. In a modern API-led integration approach, developers build assets — integration assets — that provide organizations significant future benefit to IT and the business.

Simply defined, an integration asset is any code that can be packaged and reused by developers, such as APIs, templates, code fragments, common frameworks, or connectors.

What is the economic value of integration assets?

The economic value of integration assets comes in many forms. Here, we’ll focus on two:

No. 1: Integration assets create value through developer efficiencies

When developed with an API-led integration strategy, integration assets are highly reusable, and as developers reuse this code rather than redevelop the same code over and over again for their projects, the following value is created: 

  1. Developers become more productive as they save time by reusing existing assets instead of developing new integrations for each individual project. This, in turn, frees up their time to deliver on more projects and/or invest in more innovation to drive your organization’s top and bottom line. 
  2. Faster integration delivery means faster time-to-market for the actual IT or business initiative those API-led integrations support. This leads to increased revenue or cost savings (as determined by the focus of the IT or business initiative). 

No. 2: Integration assets generate value through maintenance efficiencies

Integration assets can also drive indirect value through operations and maintenance efficiencies. Developers or operations personnel can cut down on time spent maintaining, keeping the lights on (KTLO), and changing numerous duplicative, custom point-to-point integrations. Instead, they can focus on maintaining a productized set of highly reusable assets. Think of these maintenance efficiencies this way: 

Scenario A: If you build the same point-to-point integration in 10 different projects, you then have to maintain (KTLO and change) each of these integrations as if they were unique sets of code (even though they really aren’t!) — this is a significant productivity drain on IT, creating duplicative effort and time and money waste for your organization — direct negative impact to your bottom-line.

Scenario B: If you instead build a reusable API once that can then be used 10 times across those same projects, you then only have to maintain (KTLO and change) that one API, effectively saving you nine integrations’ worth of time, money, and operational cost. Those savings can then be reinvested back into your organization for more productive cost-saving and/or revenue-producing initiatives.

As integration assets are developed through an API-led approach and reused over and over again across your organization’s projects, you will witness a growing return on integration assets (“ROIA”), yielding extraordinary economic value to your top-and-bottom-line. In fact, MuleSoft customers across the globe have delivered billions of dollars in return from the reuse of their integration assets alone. 

So how do I make this a reality?

The organizations that achieve the highest ROIA develop for reuse intentionally. In other words, rather than merely developing an integration as a business request comes in (what we call a reactive “project-based approach”), organizations also evaluate business requests collectively (a proactive “program-based” approach) and begin to prioritize integration development against demand based on reuse potential—in other words, based on which integration asset has the highest potential ROIA. 

In the second part of this blog series, we will walk through a simple framework you can use to assess the value of your integration assets to help drive an optimal ROIA and help inform development prioritization.

To get started, you can access our online Value Calculator to gauge the financial cost savings of reuse through API-led integration. For more details on the total value of integration, download our whitepaper, How to articulate the value of integration.