Integration and modernization require good parenting

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Digital transformation requires a modernized approach to integration to be successful. This means combining an ever-growing set of applications, processes and information sources across multiple clouds and keep data consistent. An effective use of business drivers is vital to this process.

But what is a digital transformation and why is it so important for your business? Digital transformation is the ‘process of shifting your organization from a legacy approach to new ways of working and thinking using digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies’ as quoted by Digital Transformation and API Business Strategist Alan Glickenhouse on the IBM Developer blog.

The importance of applying digital transformation strategies to your business is that it has potentially a huge financial reward according to market intelligence researcher IDC. With the help from IBM strategists like Alan Glickenhouse or Johan Thole you can establish digital transformation as an ongoing approach for your business.. Glickenhouse has a global view on the matter, while Thole has extensive experience in the Netherlands and Belgium and the specific needs in those countries.

Thole: “Looking at the Netherlands, larger and smaller organizations, such as financial institutions and the government, but also retail and distribution companies, are heavily investing in API Management. This is consistent with what we’re seeing at a European level. I don’t hear many differences from international colleagues, except for maybe the question of having the cloud within the EU, this could be due to GDPR-restrictions or the wish for data sovereignty. It’s more about managing the environment themselves or acquiring it as a service from IBM.”

Glickenhouse agrees that moving data outside of the EU is something many European companies don’t want, but that it is the same for many other countries: “But focusing on geography is not clever when we look at the business drivers. When you pay too much attention to your current local competition, your actual competition may come from somebody outside your geography and also outside your industry. The key message here is that when you’re looking around your own corner, you’re going to be in trouble because somebody is going to come from some other place and start to be your competition without you even seeing it. It’s about expanding to reach beyond your local community and geography.”


Business drivers

The main difference between running a business in a traditional way or a business focussing on digital transformation is the shift in focus. The latter focusses on their clients perspective and not only their internal processes and offerings. A client centric approach asks for a different perspective on how to deal with technology, architecture, processes and people.

“The first thing most businesses care about is how we accomplish speed to market. How do we get our offerings out there quicker. That’s the age old problem between business and IT, where the business wants something and IT tells them it takes much longer than they would like. That is why effective Business APIs are so important.”

“The second business driver is reach, meaning the ability for the business to reach new customers or new markets. This means you use more channels than just yourself and your website. You can reach potential customers using mobile apps, partnering B2B, 3rd party apps, social networks and IoT devices.”

“Number three is innovation. This sounds like a no brainer, but this means you try something new, do it with rapid pace and if it fails, it better be quick, otherwise it’s too expensive. And the fourth business driver are domains, or your area of business or geography. Connect your different geographies, connect different areas of the business, share information across the domains or with the larger corporate entity.”


Cloud Pak, you will be using more than a single cloud

Managing all those different business drivers is where Cloud Pak comes in. As you execute speed, reach, innovation, and domains you will have assets both on premise and on multiple clouds.  And, you will interact with other businesses who are doing the same.  IBM Cloud Pak for Integration is  a way to connect business applications across any cloud. The Cloud Pak gives customers a lot of capability, without the need to figure everything out in advance.

It is about decentralizing functionality, like gateways, where needed, while keeping centralized governance and control. There are no single entry points and ESBs in a modern integration landscape. Instead you see hybrid integration platforms emerge, where organizations are provided with all of the tools they need to make it simpler and easier to integrate data and applications across any on-premises and multi cloud environment. With data silos broken down, businesses have an incredible opportunity to turn their data into actionable insights, allowing them to make better decisions faster. (source:

Both agree on an important aspect of the digital transformation: you will not have only one cloud, you will use many clouds. “Customers will have various clouds, even though some will say they have a one-cloud strategy and before they know it they have a multicloud environment. All those clouds need to work together in a seamless fashion. We expect that over time most businesses will use multiple clouds, as well as hybrid clouds, so it is best to prepare for it.”

For Glickenhouse it’s about explaining you need the right tool for the job that needs to be done and the tools should be used together.


The API economy

All this leads to new endeavours for companies. They can easily broaden their perspective to the consumer. “Parties can very easily create services for all kinds of companies, for example, think of a bookkeeping software company or a company coming from financial markets. First they only offered an offline, monolithic service, and now they can easily distribute different APIs for many different products and customers, from bookkeeping software, CRM, HRM and whatever seems to fit your business”, says Thole.

All of this has to work together in a very secure environment, “You don’t want to expose vital processes from the heart of your IT services to environments you cannot control yourself”, concludes Thole.


Read more blogs of Alan Glickenhouse
IBM Developer > 
Middldeware User Community >


IBM Digital Transformation and API Business Strategist

Johan Thole

IT-Specialist Hybrid Cloud Integration

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