We are all API remixers now

By Richard Copland.

The dawn of the thin enterprise

In my role I get involved in lots of client discussions. People look at me to bring ideas to life that help tackle the disruptive challenges on their horizons. In supporting this we’ve created ‘The Future Enterprise’ a view of what an enterprise, city or government department will look like in five to ten years’ time. This explores the business drivers, technology enablers and the things to think about to prepare for the future.

One of the themes called out is the Dawn of the Thin enterprise.  This effectively represents the movement of an organisation to focus on the core value proposition or sticking to your knitting.  It explores what an organisation will look like if it outsources, crowdsources, open sources and digitises all of its non-core activities.

In this world digital will be the primary transaction channel, leading to more automation and targeted business process outsourcing. A place where robotic process automation will be widely used to replace repetitive tasks performed by humans and where many enterprises move their non-differentiated development to Open Source.

Going back to your youth

But how do you actually do this and what do you need to be in place? A component for this is the socket to which these blocks can be plugged. It’s very much like the digital equivalent of the Lego blocks we all used to play with. In the digital domain these are known as APIs or Application Program Interfaces.  A set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. Once common API standards are in place there is huge potential for the development of useful apps.

Thinking about the skills necessary to take advantage of this transformative power I’m inspired by the likes of Calvin Harris and Avicii, DJs who can mix and blend numerous channels simultaneously, monitor music via a laptop dashboard, and respond to audience (customer) requests on the fly. They crowdsource energy and channel it leaving fans wanting more.

Reinvention versus invention

Top DJs can take home more than the musicians whose content they are reinventing. The ability to take the available digital building blocks or APIs and quickly plug them together in a mix and match manner is powerful and highly valuable.

Add this capability, to the impact of Ray Kurzwell’s Singularity Theory and Moore’s Law and you have an incredibly powerful transformative moment.  We have a scenario that applications and products that a year ago weren’t economically feasible are now perfectly doable.

APIs are everywhere. They are physical and virtual, hardware and software. We can wear them, implant them and plug into them. They are fuelled by data.

APIs are the path to digital transformation and the thin enterprise. How are you remixing them?