Thryv Australia, formerly Sensis, is Australia’s leading platform and marketing services company and publisher of the iconic Yellow and White Pages, as well as the recipient of this year’s MuleSoft Digital Transformation award. Thryv Australia is a 100% cloud-based business and recently moved to 100% working from home, closing the doors of its iconic QV building office earlier this year. These, along with several other initiatives, were enabled thanks to the organization’s investment in technology.
In this blog, Aman Sahani, CIO of Thryv Australia, discusses the API-led journey that made its ambitious digital transformation possible and allowed the company to quickly scale to meet the demands of change, including its recent acquisition.
As a business and technology leader, my role is to help deliver the organization’s strategic objectives by using technology as an enabler. At Thryv Australia, we have huge digital ambitions: to become the national leading SaaS provider for small to medium-sized businesses. To achieve this, we needed to build a modular, extendible, scalable, and robust integration platform to consolidate all core platforms into one ecosystem and create a partner network to power the SaaS platform. This is where an API strategy comes in: we needed a partner ecosystem that could provide various functional aspects of the platform we are taking to market, with data being the central backbone for bringing seamless customer experiences to life.
To realize our ambitions, we had to move away from complex point-to-point integrations requiring manual interventions. We had applications that were tightly coupled with no standardization adding to the complexity. Plus, some integrations used end-of-life technologies. Both the future vision and the complexity around the existing implementation were contributors for Sensis to reassess its integration landscape.
Data as a key driver
Beginning in 2015, we invested in our back-office transformation and moved to Salesforce. We were already thinking about a pivot to a SaaS platform and Salesforce and MuleSoft were key in supporting this. We wanted to reimagine our data landscape to create data as a business asset with three main objectives:
- To drive the creation of new products and services by creating a backbone for partner integrations to power our SaaS partner network.
- To democratize the data for internal consumption and make the analytics available in real-time when speaking to customers.
- To monetize data and provide secure access to our partners.
The only way to drive this was to decouple our systems and take an API-led connectivity approach, creating services and products that can integrate easily.
The power of APIs
The journey to an API-led digital transformation had 3 key phases: “Foundation,” “Test and Learn,” and “Scale by Business Domain.” “Foundation” was laying the architectural groundwork, making way for us to move away from point-to-point to reusable, API-led architecture principles.
Once we laid the foundation, we progressed with two use cases to the “Test and Learn” phase. The use cases helped build an initial store of reusable APIs that adhered to the 3-layered approach – System, Process, and Experience APIs – from the start. This helped us establish a benchmark and measure the success of the model. It also enabled us to get valuable data to prove the ROI and assist with the business case that was required to scale.
The third phase, “Scale by Business Domain,” involved using the established pattern to achieve the following projects:
- Create System APIs for all backend and legacy systems of record.
- Create Process APIs aligned to business domains like customer, billing, and more.
- Create Experience APIs for all channels and third parties to consume.
This scaling phase allowed us to embed MuleSoft across the whole organization and data landscape.
Once we adopted MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, we immediately saw benefits. We started creating a catalog of System and Process APIs that provided access to our core data. This network of APIs was critical in abstracting the underlying implementation and exposing the business domains that could be easily consumed in a reusable way. This approach allowed us to provide speed to market, scale, and reduce the total cost of ownership.
Anypoint Platform made it easier for us to score quick wins around automating business processes like fulfillment, proofing, website provisioning, and payments. This allowed us to expand our partner network by allowing for reuse and eliminating manual handling. We launched online self-service in record time and without complex point-to-point integrations.
During implementation, we created APIs for all the systems as a blanket rule to abstract information, a unique approach to unlocking legacy applications. The abstracted information was then made available based on the business domains through Process APIs as reusable assets. This was beneficial as we could then focus on unlocking the business domains when required. We leveraged out-of-the-box connectors and used the API-led approach. We also invested in our DevOps practice to perform single-click deployments. This was a critical component of success as we started to scale.
When the time came for us to integrate with Thryv, we had a store of reusable APIs already built out, enabling us to launch in just 62 days.
Benefits of API led
Taking an API-led approach allowed us to integrate 15 applications and develop 30 APIs from pilot to production in eight months, eliminating the need for complex point-to-point integrations. Based on an independent assessment, by adopting MuleSoft, the business increased its development velocity by 25% while reducing its maintenance effort by 80%. By implementing the API-led approach, we saw our API reuse increase by 33% within 3 months translating to additional cost savings of $250K. Currently, Mulesoft handles on average 1M+ transactions on a 30-day rolling basis with 99.99% availability.
We’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons along our digital journey, but I’ll share a few here:
- Identify the vision and end state and develop your technology architecture to enable that outcome. Essentially, work backward and address the why and where you want to get to first.
- Start with a single use case and “test and learn.” Create a benchmark and measure success. This way you have valuable data and proof of value when you need executive alignment to scale.
- Get it straight from the Mule’s mouth. Use MuleSoft to set up the initial architecture and governance, as well as the deployment, delivery & operating framework. This helped us concentrate on solving business problems from day one using industry best practices.