How an API-powered digital ecosystem can drive innovation and efficiency

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Worldwide, businesses are adapting to the new market conditions by transforming their current operating models to meet the new consumer demands and improve productivity, all  while still focusing on achieving growth. In this new era, taking an outside-in approach to digital business ecosystems can help organisations harness their existing resources and relationships to drive new innovations and efficiency. 

Recently, Google Cloud, in partnership with Oxford Economics, surveyed 1,000 Chief Information Officers of large organisations (over $2 billion in revenue) from around the world and across industries to understand their digital business ecosystem strategies—and the benefits they derive from cultivating those relationships. Read on to learn more about the research, or click here to gain full access to the results.

What are digital business ecosystems?
Digital business ecosystems encompass a network of partners, developers and customers facilitated by modern, cloud-first technologies. They can be made up entirely of internal parties (such as developers within an organisation) or can expand to include external individuals and organisations, such as suppliers, third-party providers, customers, developers, regulators, or even competitors. Like a user driven network effect, digital ecosystems are business-driven network effects.

Digital ecosystems deliver direct business results
Digital Business Ecosystem Leaders, a subset of CIOs from companies that are ahead of their peers in terms of developing partnerships, reported the following direct benefits of the approach:

  • Stronger customer satisfaction rates. 96% say their brand is perceived better than others in their industry, vs. 41% of others
  • Stronger revenue growth. Leaders report 6.7% average annual revenue growth over the past three years, vs. 4.9% of others
  • Stronger performance in terms of supply chain flexibility, readiness to support regulatory requirements, and understanding of market conditions

According to the survey, CIOs expect business partnerships and ecosystems to benefit them the most in three key areas: financial performance, rapid innovation, and customer satisfaction and engagement.

According to the survey, over half (52%) of CIOs with deep and integrated digital ecosystems say these relationships greatly enhance innovation, while CIOs with more basic relationships are much less likely to see this boost to innovation.

APIs are integral to building digital ecosystems
Digital business ecosystems are critical for being able to navigate an environment marked by supply chain, workforce, and other operational disruptions. Roughly half of CIOs report an uptick in the number of their close working relationships over the past three years, and nearly two-thirds (63%) expect the number to increase over the next three years.

To build deep and integrated digital businesses ecosystems, digital tools and processes are integral. APIs are the most critical of all. 51% CIOs cited them as important or very important to making their partnerships and ecosystems productive and valuable. Over half say APIs are important to their organisation’s relationships with both developers (55%) and customers (51%). 

According to the survey, Digital Business Ecosystem Leaders are more likely than others to have API gateways (63% Leaders vs. 35% others) or a centralised API management platform (34% Leaders vs. 22% others) in place—and the vast majority expect to have a central management platform in place within three years (82% Leaders vs. 41% others). That may help explain why they are ahead in other areas as well, such as data-sharing.

Powering your ecosystems strategy with API management
Google Cloud’s Apigee API management platform offers a unified way of managing APIs across their entire lifecycle and equips enterprises with the required digital tools to cultivate deep and integrated business partnerships and build developer communities. 

Apigee provides a breadth of capabilities to package and productise business-critical assets via APIs and securely publish them to developers and partners. In addition to its enterprise-grade scale and security, Apigee’s AI-powered data and analytics features allow API providers to analyse and monitor APIs. Apigee also offers advanced API monetisation capabilities that allow businesses to unlock new markets and revenue streams.

Several large enterprises across the globe use Apigee to power their digital ecosystem strategies and accelerate digital transformation efforts.

To share a few examples:

  • Magalu, the $4.5 bn Brazilian retailer, used Apigee to build digital relationships with a wide range of partners and suppliers to quickly scale up its primarily brick-and-mortar operations into a marketplace business. In 2018, it recorded year-over-year growth of 60% in e-commerce sales supporting over 3,300 vendors and 4.3 million SKUs compared to 50,000 SKUs in 2016. 
  • Bank BRI, one of the largest banks in Indonesia, drove over $50M in new revenue through Apigee by creating an API product marketplace with more than 50 monetised open APIs for over 70 ecosystem partners wanting to do credit scoring, business assessments, and risk management. Fintechs, insurance companies, and financial institutions that don't have the talent or the financial resources to do quality credit scoring and fraud detection on their own, partner with Bank BRI
  • Nationwide Insurance, a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the United States, recognised an opportunity to provide quotes for pet insurance aggregators faster as part of the API ecosystem. The team developed an API product to address this need. They quickly saw a large increase in the amount of quotes generated through various pet insurance aggregators. What surprised them were the additional connections made by companies who were not aggregators, greatly increasing the funnel of quotes and buy opportunities.
  • AccuWeather, the world’s leading weather media and big data company, leveraged Apigee and its developer portal features to create a vast ecosystem of developers and business partnerships. Using its weather APIs, more than 70,000 registered developers across the globe created over 30,000 apps. AccuWeather also expanded business partnerships with companies like Land Rover, Sony, Bosch, LG and Samsung and many others.
  • Using APIs powered by Apigee, Conrad, a German electronics retailer, imports data from external sources such as tracking information from shipping companies. Apigee also helps connect the procurement systems of B2B customers directly to the Conrad Electronic product catalogue, for a faster, more integrated retail experience. Developers used Apigee to build an easy-to-use tool that provides the in-store team and visitors to stores with key product, service, and warranty information, right from their in-store devices and tablets. More than 60% of all customers who visit its stores are now being serviced via this tool.

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Global CIO Institute

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