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    What’s Next for Enterprise Digital Strategy? 5 API, Microservice, and Events Trends

    January 29, 2021


    In this post, digitalML CEO Jeremy Sindall discusses what’s next for large enterprises’ digital strategy as we adapt to changing consumer demands that 2021 and the impending “post-COVID era” are cementing. We also share 5 digital trends we see maturing, and what large enterprises need to implement to succeed at them:
    • Scaling to 1000s of APIs
    • Maturation of Events-based architecture
    • Self-service business and technical functions
    • The rise of the Business Strategist
    • The implementation of governance and standards throughout the API, microservice, events lifecycle

    “All Large Enterprises are Tech Companies” and Technical Differentiation = Competitive Advantage | CEO Commentary

    COVID-19 has hit us all hard, and we hope you are continuing to stay safe. Thankfully, there is now some light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccination programs rolling out across the world.

    The pandemic has now been around for long enough that the drastic changes in working practices we’ve seen over the last year will never return to how they were – we’re already seeing analysts and consultancy firms referring to “pre-COVID” and “post-COVID” eras analogous to pre- and post-war eras in the 20th century.

    For example – after a year of not visiting your Bank branch, will you really go back?

    Some sectors have adjusted well to remote working and remote customer interactions, and digital offerings have accelerated at a much faster pace e.g. the rapid rise in telehealth in both UK and US Healthcare.

    Stock markets are flush with money looking for a good return, and growth tech is particularly sought after. In fact, there are some that are looking at the roaring 20s of last century to predict boom times ahead for enterprises that are tech savvy and responsive to changing consumer demands and the unpredictability of digital.

    Source: ARK

    For large enterprises across the globe, this will inevitably mean even greater pressure to Modernize IT functions in support of becoming “digitally determined”. An enterprise’s ability to build their own digital capability has become the new currency.

    A recent a16Z podcast that hosted Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson made some very poignant observations. All large enterprises are tech companies, and in this age competitive advantage is achieved by how well they can build technical differentiation.

    Winners are organisations where the lifecycle of planning, developing, evolving, and managing product offerings is open to everyone in the enterprise – not just the responsibility of developers.

    With this all in mind, here at digitalML we’re expecting to see the following digital trends mature throughout 2021 and beyond into the “post-COVID era”…

    Digital Trend 1: Scaling to 1000s of APIs

    We expect to see large enterprises working to scale out their APIs into the thousands. Software is innovation. Differentiation will be built, functionality will be exposed via APIs (and services, events), and who can listen and respond to customers will be valued. We are already seeing enterprise executives investing and driving coordinated planning and prioritization now. Enterprises are making decisions on whether the thousands of APIs are aligned to a business value chain and contribute to a portfolio of enterprise or line of business building blocks – or if they’re project by-products that become legacy management issues.

    Digital Trend 2: Maturation of Events-Based Architecture

    We’re also starting to see the maturation of events and messaging teams at a similar scale. Thousands of services, APIs, events running on multiple platforms (ESBs, gateways and containers, Kafka/Solace/MQ) as part of the digital, application development, and IT stack. A holistic approach to cataloging and lifecycle management of these assets is key.

    Digital Trend 3: Self-service Business and Technical Functions

    We are starting to see a shift towards business and technical functions becoming democratized and self-service in nature. This includes the use of APIs, services, events and data. There will be increased value to the functions that can be represented in the format that makes most sense (e.g OAS, graphQL, WSDL, Avro), organized by taxonomy, consistent and reliable, and encapsulated for reuse. There is a need for holistic and shared catalogs with the focus this year on internal and ecosystem users. Lineage, governance, discovery, monitoring the quality of the catalog will gain importance (users need to know where it’s located / where it came from / is it acceptable to use / is it reliable to use). The citizen developer and low code offerings trend accelerates faster with these capabilities.

    Digital Trend 4: The rise of the Business Analyst

    Business analysts played a key role in 10 years ago mapping business requirements and data fields the systems of records would expose. Data, Catalog, Pipeline, and Run infrastructure are becoming powerful and integrated allowing semi-technical roles to carry out the once complicated / custom code / huge backload of jobs developers were responsible for. The business analyst is now capable of:
    • combining microservices to expose an aggregate service
    • bundling business and technical functions to support the creation of an API Product
    • capturing lineage and provider consumer relationships for message streams
    • working with application developers to understand what APIs and events are available for reuse, what need to be prioritized for development, and what security and policies need to be included
    • working with project and business teams on what fields can and cannot be exposed For this vision to work, an enterprise needs a holistic view on what APIs, Services, and Events they have. Which ones are approved for reuse, and how they can be combined together to support a particular initiative. That could be a new application, a shift to the cloud or a core system replacement. In addition, all roles involved in the lifecycle need effective enablement to ensure easy collaboration
    • reporting on expected KPIs vs actual and helping align priorities and investments

    Digital Trend 5: The implementation of governance and standards throughout the API, microservice, events lifecycle

    Consistency and reliability across all APIs, microservices, and events ensures the enterprise’s portfolio is filled with stand-out assets. The ability to automate and configure governance, validation, error codes, naming design rules, standards, and the approval process through different environments makes analysis, development, and architecture easier with speed and scale. In addition, automated governance and standards promotes great consumer experience for the enterprise’s business and technical functions exposed as APIs, events, microservices, etc.

    To fully embrace and excel at these trends, large enterprises need an API, service, and events-driven architecture that promotes adaptability and responsiveness. Want to chat further about any of these trends or how to achieve this responsiveness as a large enterprise? Book a digital roadmap consultation with us.
    About the Author
    Jeremy SindallJeremy Sindall
    Jeremy is CEO of digitalML. Having founded the company in 2000, he specializes in helping the world's largest companies reinvent themselves into Intelligent Enterprises through abstracted API and service management.