Earlier this year, we conducted a survey of over 900 IT decision makers. Only half said that they were able to complete all the projects they were asked to do in the last 12 months. 60% said they were not adequately resourced to meet their company’s digital goals. And 60% also said that if digital transformation goals were not met, revenues would be negatively impacted in six months or less. The single biggest constraint to meeting the above goals? Time.
Time is of the essence. Businesses are pivoting to respond to more and more changes in strategy and interaction, forced by technological trends like cloud computing, mobile, and SaaS. In the process, IT has to shoulder the responsibility of implementing those responses and ensure they are ahead of the game.
But there is a proliferation of different forces and IT only has a finite amount of resources. As a result, we see that a gap begins to form between what the business needs are and ITs capacity to deliver on those needs. Over time, this gap continues to widen at an accelerated pace because IT is unable to add any more resources or increase capacity and productivity––thereby creating the IT delivery gap.
In order to improve IT productivity and better close the IT delivery gap, organizations must consider these top three changes:
#1: Transform your delivery model from production to production and consumption
In most organizations, Central IT is bearing the brunt of the delivery burden. In order to improve productivity, organizations must consider adopting the principles of franchising. Franchisers build reusable assets (e.g. store plans) that are then packaged for self-service for franchisees to drive scale and innovation. This means that the next time a new McDonald’s location opens, the store already has reusable assets to build with––from store plans to billing and payment.
In the context of IT, Central IT must similarly federate innovation across the organization by first identifying nodes for reuse within projects they’re executing, and then prioritizing projects that provide the opportunity to create reusable assets. This enables teams to focus on building reusable assets and enabling self-service, rather than working on producing all projects themselves.
The key here is that IT must focus on production as much as consumption. Relevant assets can then be reused and leveraged for other projects. At the same time, these assets need to also be discoverable, enabling developers to easily self-serve them in projects through a visible, usable repository, and best practice documentation. In emphasizing both the reusability and discoverability of assets, organizations can make a step change in the way they deliver projects as well as the speed at which they deliver them.
To realize this franchise approach, organizations can adopt an API-led approach to connectivity, an approach to integration that enables organizations to connect and expose assets through APIs. With this approach, every asset and connection becomes a managed, modern API that is discoverable through self-service without losing control. As a result, IT teams will have reusable assets to leverage which, in turn, will enable them to increase productivity.
#2: Re-evaluate your current approach to integration
Julian Burnett, the CIO of House of Fraser, a premium department store in the UK, has noted that for many businesses, integration is not really a strategic discipline. “Most integrations between business systems, if I’m honest, occur point-to-point in a really rudimentary way.”
Still, many organizations are recognizing that the movement towards mobile applications and other digital disruptions have rendered point-to-point a constraining approach to integration. This is because point-to-point integration relies on one-to-one connections between applications, data, and devices––leading to the exponential increase of endpoints.
This approach creates technical debt and a brittle architecture because the systems become tightly coupled together. This leads to time-consuming, downstream work for IT teams, and creates significant costs for organizations because they are unable to respond to changing business needs quickly.
By taking an API-led approach to connectivity, organizations can move beyond the constraints of point-to-point integration by using API building blocks to not only expose and connect systems, but also modify and change the connections of these API building blocks in a lego-like manner. This approach enables IT teams to move faster and be more productive and agile or composable.
#3: Change the way your IT team is organized
So far, we have focused on IT approaches––from changing our delivery to rethinking our integration approaches. However, organizations must consider changing the way their teams are organized to improve IT productivity and better close the delivery gap. This change can be achieved through a Center for Enablement (C4E).
A C4E is a team dedicated to enabling the organization to consume and get full value from the assets. It is typically staffed with members from Central IT, Line of Business (LoB) departments, and digital innovation teams. The team is charged with productizing, publishing and harvesting reusable assets and best practices. They promote consumption and collaboration, and help drives self-reliance while improving delivery through feedback and metrics. In short, a C4E enables organizations to build their teams in a way that is congruent with API-led connectivity and stimulates productivity.
What happens when organizations follow these top 3 approaches?
Unilever, one of the world’s largest CPG companies, had a significant IT delivery gap and sought to increase the productivity of their development teams. They adopted API-led connectivity in conjunction with a C4E and achieved great business outcomes. They built APIs around their core products and services and created an Adaptive Integration Capability team (C4E). As a result, they not only reduced the cost of one of their projects by 26%, but also improved overall developer productivity and increased time-to-market by 3x.
MuleSoft is the only unified platform for API-led connectivity, read more about our solutions and how they can help organizations kickstart their journey towards a C4E.