74% of IT decision makers have no functioning API strategy

New research from open-source technology provider WSO2 reveals where organisations are floundering to successfully digitise services.

Digital transformation technology company, WSO2, has released the UK&I findings from its survey examining how organisations are tackling their IT infrastructure in order to deliver the best possible digital services to employees, customers and partners.  

To achieve success, digital transformation involves three critical components: an API-first approach, effective and API-led integration of systems and applications, and comprehensive identity and access management for users. Organisations also require a flexible platform that enables each of these capabilities to perform well either in isolation or together, and this is where the survey found organisations are currently falling short. 

In the survey, nearly three quarters of respondents (74%) admitted that they do not have a fully rolled out API strategy. Furthermore, 88% concede that the technology they currently use to build, manage, and integrate APIs needs to be better—requiring anywhere from a moderate or major improvement to a complete overhaul. The two most common challenges cited with current API platforms are difficulty re-using existing or legacy APIs for new projects and services (53%) and managing the full lifecycle of APIs (52%). 

Organisations need flexible deployment options for new platforms 

The survey also found that most organisations require a mix of deployment options. Only 10% of respondents currently opt for on-premises wherever possible, while only 3% said that their IT infrastructure is in the cloud wherever possible. Looking ahead to the next three years, only 5% expect to be on-premises wherever possible, while only 15% say cloud wherever possible. 

Ricardo Diniz, WSO2 vice president and general manager for UK&I and Southern Europe says: “For the majority of companies we surveyed, both now and in the future, hybrid environments are expected to be the norm. Therefore, flexibility is critical for any new platforms to deliver the deployment choices that customers want to make.

“Likewise, from an API perspective, organisations need to take a step back and revisit how they manage and use APIs in order to realise the full benefits they can deliver.” 

Even as hybrid deployments continue to dominate, the study points to a growing adoption of software as a service (SaaS) and other cloud-based solutions with a five-fold increase in planned cloud-only deployments. SaaS offerings address both the current economic challenges and the continued shortage of skilled developers. They enable enterprises to free often-understaffed development teams from managing the underlying infrastructure to focus on innovating new digital services and applications that deliver business value. 

The value of open-source platforms recognised 

Taking an open-source approach can deliver real value to the business, with 87% of respondents agreeing that the ability to use an open-source platform for building, managing and integrating APIs would significantly benefit developers and architects within their organisation. Not only do open-source software and pre-templated libraries save time; they also free up precious internal resources who can focus their energies on innovating and improving the end user experience. 

Open-source software also undergirds all major cloud platforms being delivered to the market today, whether SaaS or platform as a service (PaaS). This approach facilitates integration and the ability to take advantage of new technologies as they emerge.  

”More than half of the respondents surveyed said that digital transformation initiatives are driving demand for APIs. But innovation can only be achieved if engrained challenges stemming from underperforming technology platforms are rectified,” Ricardo Diniz observed. “This is where a digital platform as a service and other SaaS offerings come into play. They enable development and operations teams to deliver new integrations, services, and APIs in hours or days, not weeks or months.”  

Organisations repurpose IAM platforms for CIAM purposes 

The research also examined how organisations are using customer identity and access management (CIAM) platforms to deliver a more personalised experience. It found that 80% of respondents are using or planning to use a single platform for employees, partners and suppliers as well as their customers.  

However, the survey responses also suggest that existing identity and access management (IAM) platforms are being repurposed for CIAM needs; an approach that can quickly prove frustrating given that these platform types are not like-for-like. This can often create challenges, such as limited scalability and extensibility, and lead organisations to compromise on critical CIAM needs, which is why 95% of those surveyed indicated that they are experiencing challenges with CIAM.  

Interestingly, 85% of respondents believe their IAM platform needs either a complete overhaul or major or moderate improvement, with 80% saying the same about their CIAM platform, and 74% agreeing that when IAM/CIAM platforms do not work as they should, customer, partner and supplier relationships are negatively impacted. 

“Organisations are struggling with their current platforms predominantly because they are being repurposed for CIAM, which is not what they were built for. Companies will realise much greater business benefits if they use either a true CIAM platform or at a minimum one that takes a CIAM-first approach,” concludes Ricardo Diniz. 



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