As the business landscape has grown increasingly competitive, organizations have come to rely more heavily on digital innovation to cut through the noise and stay relevant. This trend has been accelerated even further by the global pandemic, as consumers and businesses alike see their digital needs shift dramatically.
Working from home, accessing services remotely, and having the ability to carry out more of our daily activities online demand for these digital capabilities has snowballed, meaning IT teams and developers have to carry the weight of responsibility.
Despite the need to invest more in digital innovation, as we enter a period of uncertainty and unpredictability, many organizations are tightening their purse strings. Gartner predicted that worldwide IT expenditure would decline by 8% in 2020 because of the fallout from the pandemic. Subsequently, IT teams will be under increased pressure to deliver new digital capabilities quickly, but with fewer resources, and at a fraction of the cost. So the issue is – how can organizations continue to champion innovation, whilst also adjusting to the long-term challenges created by the pandemic?
The IT delivery gap
Even before COVID-19, demand on IT teams was already disproportionate to the availability of resources. In 2020, 59% of IT leaders were unable to carry out all of the projects they had promised in the previous year. A lack of connected systems, funds, and experience within development teams all play a role in this shortfall. With pressure to quickly adapt and meet new requirements mounting rapidly during the pandemic, the IT delivery gap is at risk of becoming an abyss.
As well as higher demand for digital projects, many development teams are continuing to work remotely, without the normal equipment and resources they have available in the office. Plus, as other employees in the business continue to face issues unique to remote working, it’s likely that IT teams will be further pulled away from driving innovation to resolve more immediate problems for end-users.
While it’s apparent that the bottleneck around IT teams is tightening, rigid processes make it difficult for them to do anything about it. Organizations therefore need to change the way they create digital services, and allow the wider workforce to become more involved in championing their own digital innovation efforts.
APIs are the future of innovation
This shift can best be enabled by decentralizing IT and allowing for the emergence of citizen integrators, who can help speed up digital innovation. Those outside of IT can then drive their own digital initiatives through the ability to unify data, integrate systems, and deliver personalized customer experiences without needing to create any code.
The most effective way to enable this vision is through Application Program Interfaces (APIs), which expose capabilities and data in a way that is easily accessible and reusable. In essence, existing digital assets can be quickly composed and re-composed into new products and services to meet rapidly changing demands.
In addition to widening the responsibility for innovation to other teams, the composable enterprise that emerges from this shift also makes remote IT teams more efficient, by enabling them to reuse existing capabilities rather than creating everything from scratch.
As more organizations begin to embrace this approach, we’ll start to move closer toward realizing that 60% of the Global 2000 will have a digital developer ecosystem by 2023. By spreading the innovation workload amongst citizen integrators, IT teams will have more time to prioritize rapid delivery of digital initiatives amid the uncertainty and instability of a post-lockdown world.
Democratized innovation in action
Before the unprecedented disruption of the last few months, some companies were already taking steps towards this approach. Legal & General, for instance, can now build products and services 2.5 times faster, simply by allowing its teams to reuse and adapt the same APIs for new initiatives.
Today, Legal & General is reusing between 60–70% of APIs across its organization, a development that has allowed the company to accelerate project delivery significantly.
As the aftermath of the pandemic unfolds, organizations will need to remain ahead of the digital innovation curve more than ever. To do this, they must rework their internal structures to enable greater agility, and move past the traditional misconception that only IT can build. In embracing a democratized approach to innovation and a ‘self-serve’ attitude to IT delivery through APIs, customer and employee experiences can become smoother, faster, and more connected.
Since many of the shifts brought on by the pandemic seem to be here to stay, doing the hard work now will allow organizations to safeguard their success in an uncertain future and remain at the forefront of an increasingly digital economy.