Digital transformation

The API economy journey map: How are you doing?

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Recently, IBM announced the creation of an API economy journey map. It is a maturity model that represents how we see companies progressing through various stages of maturity in using, exposing and consuming digital assets to enhance their business. I’d like to elaborate on the model structure and how it can be used.

Model framework

Let’s start with the model’s framework. We’ve identified five stages of maturity. Each stage describes a state of maturity for a particular characteristic under evaluation. The characteristics are categorized into two sectors—business and technology—which are further divided into dimensions. Each dimension contains multiple factors.
5stages, API Economy

Five stages of maturity

The following descriptions are high-level views that briefly summarize each of the five maturity levels across all dimensions and factors:
Learning using an unstructured approach:
Companies have had APIs at their disposal for a long time. Existing interfaces to systems have been exposed for internal developers and partners to access. However, each time one of these APIs is created, it is done with a unique effort. Setting up the API, making it available to the audience and applying security are all implemented on a unique basis. There is no common methodology or management around these interfaces.

• Discovering and experimenting to gain market understanding:
Companies starting API initiatives tend to concentrate on the company’s existing assets and making those digital assets available to target audiences. Common thinking during this early maturity stage is focused on which assets the company owns and how to provide them to audiences in a controlled, secured way.

• Implementing targeted market solutions:
Moving higher on the maturity scale, companies are now focused on the needs of the audience and on consuming APIs with less emphasis on the structure of existing assets. Targeted solutions for the intended audience are driving the initiative, and the needs of the consumer are a priority.

• Expanding to full digital market solutions:
At this higher level, the business is heavily involved in driving digital assets. Business leaders are looking beyond the consumer-oriented perspective of the prior stage toward new business models, new business offerings and new channels to drive digital strategy (note I did not say API strategy).

• Innovating with predictive transformation:
At the highest level, companies are thinking about a multidirectional ecosystem across industries. The digital strategy is driven from perspectives that go beyond a single company. Customer interactions can be seen to be “predictive” based on ecosystem integration and cognitive computing.

When the model is actually used, specific definitions will describe the maturity state as it relates to the factor being evaluated.

Business and technology dimensions

The business perspective contains two dimensions: business approach and management. The technology perspective contains four dimensions: architecture; information and content; processes and methods; and infrastructure.

The following diagrams show a summary row for each dimension and the factors evaluated:

Business perspective dimensions:
• Business approach

Businessapproach, API Economy

• Management

Management, API Economy

Technology perspective dimensions:
• Architecture

Architecture, API Economy

• Information and content

Informationandcontent, API Economy

• Processes and methods

Processandmethods, API Economy

• Infrastructure

Infrastructure, API Economy

IBM offers help to determine your current maturity level across the model’s dimensions and factors and your desired maturity level for each in a specified time frame. Prescriptive steps to move forward in your API economy journey can then be determined.

If you have other questions, please let me know. Connect with me through comments here or on Twitter. You can also read some of my other work.

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