How to build an agile mobile strategy using APIs

application layers stock image

As the number of mobile users grows to almost 5 billion in 2019, companies are under immense pressure to deliver engaging and secure apps, and not just for consumers. Mobile apps have become an essential tool to unlock employee innovation and productivity. And key to providing the experiences that customers and employees expect is the ability to access data, systems, and processes in an elegant, user-friendly design.

Underlying every mobile app is a complex orchestration that begins with managing a user’s identity, which unlocks data, apps, and services that exist on-premises, on SaaS or PaaS solutions, and through 3rd parties. When properly executed, users are presented with captivating experiences that drive speed, agility, and engagement by abstracting this underlying complexity, unlocking incredible value for the business.

customers vs. employees apps

Up to 70% of mobile application development is integration

Complexity is driven by the requirements to connect to countless systems, which often results in development backlogs with application development teams falling behind. According to Gartner, “Integration is an often-underestimated aspect of mobile application development projects. A notable portion of an overall mobile app project cost — as much as 70% in some cases — can be attributed to integrating the mobile app with established enterprise applications, services and data sources, whether on-premises or in the cloud.

mobile integration graphic

Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to build engaging mobile apps, often hindered by their inability to access their critical data and processes. The following three approaches are the typical culprits preventing the agile mobile apps that customers and employees demand:

  1. Point-to-point code is brittle, requiring significant resources when changes are needed down the road.
  2. Mobile application development platforms focus exclusively on the mobile app at the expense of building a scalable infrastructure for additional channels and endpoints.
  3. API gateways also result in duplicating efforts across mobile projects, wasting valuable time and energy.

So how will we meet our customers’ and employees’ increasing demands with each new experience we decide to build?

A better approach: Using APIs to unlock critical business capabilities

Quite simply, our goal is to create consistent experiences for our customers, partners, and employees by decoupling the core business capabilities and processes from our myriad endpoints. With the Anypoint Platform, you can achieve this outcome through an API-led architecture, providing you the flexibility to upgrade to new systems in the future, or implement Agile and CI/CD initiatives.

Instead of building brittle, point-to-point connections to your systems, leverage APIs to unlock all of your endpoints at the system layer. At the Process Layer, orchestrate data and processes across systems, creating composite APIs for core business processes. With systems and processes abstracted, developers can consume the appropriate APIs to rapidly innovate and build new capabilities. If, as an organization, you decide to replace a core system in the future, your upstream APIs won’t be impacted, enabling the business to innovate faster.

As a result of this API-led approach with MuleSoft, subsequent projects actually accelerate, due to leveraging all of the work that was previously accomplished. And instead of focusing on connectivity, systems, and data, your team is able to focus on supporting business initiatives and delighting customers

How Pilot Flying J transformed the industry with the myPilot mobile app

truck at pilot flying j

Founded as a single gas station 60 years ago, Pilot Flying J as grown to become the largest operator of travel centers in North America, with over 750 locations serving more than 1.6 million professional drivers and traveling motorists daily. Today, at any Pilot or Flying J travel center, professional drivers can find overnight parking, showers, a warm meal, Wi-Fi, and a vast array of merchandise.

Before adopting MuleSoft, its IT systems were siloed and connected via one-to-one integrations, making critical data inaccessible. In order to provide a fully personalized and frictionless guest experience, Pilot Flying J needed to adopt a mobile strategy, backed by fully integrated systems, that allowed guests to engage with its brand on mobile devices, so the company came to MuleSoft to achieve its goals.

To achieve Pilot Flying J’s omnichannel vision for delivering personalized, digital experiences, the team had to unlock data from hundreds of siloed backend systems. Using MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform™, Pilot Flying J replaced legacy middleware and custom code with flexible, reusable APIs. This allowed it to connect a range of backend systems with Salesforce systems, including Sales, Service, and Marketing Clouds. By taking an API-led connectivity approach to unlocking product, inventory, loyalty rewards, and customer profile data, Pilot Flying J was able to launch an industry-leading mobile app – myPilot – which saves drivers time and dramatically improves quality of life on the road.

myPilot app

Pilot Flying J has over 70,000 parking spots across its travel centers, each one with a micro radar sensor installed in the ground, attached to an on-premises server. With MuleSoft, Pilot Flying J exposes its parking inventory to customers on their mobile devices, enabling truck operators to reserve a spot in advance, driving customer satisfaction. And when he or she arrives, their phone will activate a geofence, enabling the driver to reserve a shower without having to leave the truck; when their shower is available, the door code is sent to myPilot. These, and other capabilities, are the technologically-driven experiences that customers love, and it’s all enabled by connecting countless on-premises and cloud-based systems using MuleSoft.

What’s more, Pilot Flying J understands it can increase its reach by integrating the myPilot capabilities into 3rd party apps, which it accomplished by exposing its APIs externally without having to write new code. And with more than 250% YoY mobile app growth and millions of loyalty offers redeemed, Pilot Flying J is driving significant incremental revenue.

MyPilot-API-layers

It’s been remarkable to see what Pilot Flying J has achieved, creating a simple guest experience that is unmatched in the industry, by leveraging MuleSoft’s capabilities:

  • Data-driven: Enabling Pilot Flying J to learn and adjust to customer demands.
  • Agility: Adopting MuleSoft’s API-led approach enabled moving quickly, delivering small wins while testing market hypotheses.
  • Consistency: Provide a consistent customer experience, whether through myPilot or through a 3rd party app.

Enable agile mobile strategies with MuleSoft

MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform is purpose-built to deliver on the capabilities required for building an agile mobile strategy using APIs: It’s the unified platform for API-led connectivity that enables you to build an application network of apps, data, and devices through APIs and integrations. Whether deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment, Anypoint Platform enables:

  • Speed of delivery: Connect to systems faster using our 200+ out-of-the-box connectors and easy-to-use drag-and-drop integrated development environment.
  • Actionable visibility: Run detailed analytics and gather insights about your application network to optimize your approach.
  • Security by design: Anypoint Platform supports best-in-class security standards trusted by leading brands across every industry.
  • Future-proof architecture: As your business evolves, enjoy the flexibility to easily embrace new channels and technologies.
  • Intentional self-service: MuleSoft allows you to scale 4x faster with out-of-the-box connectors and reusable APIs that other developers across the organization can leverage.

Join this webinar to learn how MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform will enable you to accelerate business automation so that you too can increase agility, drive innovation, and find new revenue channels for your business.




We'd love to hear your opinion on this post