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Convincing business leaders of the strategic value of integration is one of the most difficult challenges IT leaders face. Integration technologies, in nature, are “invisible” and often don’t come with a demo you can showcase to leadership. This makes it difficult for organizations to justify strategic investments in integration. 

In contrast, 80% of organizations currently use APIs to digitally transform as they can unlock data and connect systems. This shows that business leaders see the value of API initiatives. 

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The strategy around connectivity needs to change. Rather than thinking of APIs as a means to an end, business leaders need to understand how APIs can provide a strategic advantage for business integration capabilities. Gartner says that without an overarching strategy that encompasses both APIs and integration technologies, organizations will be unable to innovate and leverage business insights. 

To justify strategic investments in integration technologies and skills, IT must articulate how these capabilities support business innovation, agility, efficiency, and insights. Here are the three steps Gartner recommends IT leaders take to convince business executives to invest strategically in integration:

#1 Tie strategic integration to business goals 

Business leaders see integration technologies as tactical, “necessary evils” that fix the technical speedbumps blocking their initiatives. IT leaders can adjust this thinking by mapping integration technologies to business objectives. Place integration and APIs within the context of the organization’s business goals to elevate their value. Integration can add value to objectives related to building a competitive advantage, improving organizational agility, increasing efficiency, and being situationally aware.

Gartner recommends IT leaders take action on this by:

  • Identifying the key business goals based on leadership prioritization.
  • Communicating how integration and APIs can help the business achieve these goals, using real-life examples and use cases
  • Showing the value of these technologies by creating a business case that displays benefits, cost savings, and capabilities. 

#2 Uncover and articulate unexpected benefits

Many line-of-business teams see integration at face value, only aware of the most obvious, efficiency-oriented use cases, such as managed file transfer or batch data integration. However, real-time, API-based integrations often provide more value than the seemingly “obvious use cases.” Begin explaining how integration and APIs can deliver benefits outside of the perceived value. Expose the unexpected benefits beyond the basic efficiency requests. 

Gartner recommends IT leaders take action on this by:

  • Identifying the obvious efficiency-focused processes, as well as other processes that could benefit from integration, focusing on API capabilities that business leaders understand.
  • Quantifying the benefits of using APIs for these processes in terms of cost savings, increased revenue, customer satisfaction, or other KPIs, if possible.
  • Supporting additional use cases allocating quantified savings accordingly.

#3 Create an enterprise-wide integration strategy

Once business leaders see the value of integration, it’s time to go organization-wide! Leverage the technical skills and organizational resources built during the first few initiatives across a larger range of systems and processes. Without a strategy that spans across the organization, businesses miss out on key advantages from these technologies. 

Gartner recommends IT leaders take action on this by:

For more insights, download the Gartner report “How to justify strategic investments in integration technology.” Stay tuned for more, as I’ll dive into the details of each of these recommendations in a blog series.