How can API-led connectivity benefit mobile enablement projects?

The Demand

Mobile applications are dominating consumer experiences, and there’s no denying the shift toward mobile taking place in the enterprise. Having an enterprise mobile strategy ­– once optional – has now become business critical. Businesses are building mobile applications to enable employee productivity, increase partner collaboration, and improve customer experiences.

The Problem

However, IT departments are struggling to build and deliver mobile applications as fast as the business demands them. On average, mobile apps take 3-12 months to build and roll out. Not surprisingly, 80%+ of companies report a backlog of 1-20 mobile apps or features and 50% reporting a backlog of 10-20 mobile apps or features.

The Reason

There is a plethora of tooling and technology available such as Appcelerator, Adobe, Salesforce, Antenna Software, Kony & Xamarin, to fast track mobile front end development. However, typically 70% of a mobile enablement project is invested in integrating the mobile back-end to existing enterprise apps and systems.

In this integration space between mobile back-ends and enterprise systems, there has often been little co-ordination, classification and management of authored APIs, resulting in poor API re-usability which in turn has led to slower time to market and higher development costs.

The Solution – API-led Connectivity

Using Mulesoft's API-led Connectivity approach, the integration space is separated into three discreet layers – the sole purpose of which is to promote re-usability of APIs and thus reduced development costs and app time to market.

The three layers are:

  • Experience API layer; APIs are developed in accordance with how information needs to be displayed on a particular device.

  • Process API layer; APIs are developed specifically to meet processes within the organisation and are re-used by Experience APIs. For example, to fetch an account balance for a smartphone or laptop would re-use the same process API.

  • System API layer; System APIs expose information or functionality (e.g. Credit Check) from on-premise or cloud-based systems. System APIs are re-used by Process APIs.

As the number of Process and System APIs grows, API re-usability increases. This approach allows companies to add more and more devices and mobile apps, without increasing development and maintenance costs linearly, resulting in improving economies of scale.

This approach also allows different Lines of Business (LoBs) to take more control over their own processes and applications, whilst system data is still governed and secured by the IT department.

About the Author

Nick Rumble is a Technical Solution Architect at Instrumentum and helps companies to integrate their systems and business processes. Contact Nick here to discuss your application modernisation or integration requirements.