APIs have been a great success on many fronts. They have enabled business to:
- Open up and monetize capital and data assets
- Share data internally for efficiency and error reduction,
- Build apps and products and bring them to market faster, and
- Integrate external services into BI and decision-making processes.
But where APIs have not really moved the needle yet is around automation.
For several years, APIs have promised a new business landscape where manual processes, business-to-customer interactions, and machine-identified system alerts, can all be automated. In 2013, when APIdays first began, industry analysts were promising that that was the year when enterprises would lead a new wave of process automation. They predicted medium and small businesses would need to catch up in order to compete with product development and service delivery in this new digital age. We expected to be able to spark conversations around this new wave of API enablement from our very first December event in Paris.
Instead, it has taken until now, our third Paris conference — our main APIdays global event — to create a program that will help businesses of all sizes to realize the automation potential.
Why has it taken this long and what has changed?
APIdays Paris looks at how APIs are automating business and society from two angles: through IT architecture, and through the transformation of business.
Speakers like Tony Tam, the creator of the Swagger API definition specification, and Tibor Vass, Core Maintainer at Docker, will speak on the new IT automation enabled by APIs. In the last year, we have seen APIs begin to realize their potential for this type of automation.
As more IT environments implement a microservices architecture where APIs interdependently manage services and access to business data and assets, the principles of continuous delivery and continuous integration have emerged. This has required application architecture systems that can identify when there is the need for more servers or processing power and can spin up more computing power as needed and then reduce down again when peak flow is passed. It is a set of principles that enables a constant stream of development upgrades to be coded, tested, integrated with existing systems and shipped to production without increasing errors from multiple handling and without introducing new problems from staged environments. It has enabled dev and business teams to work together to map out an API strategy via a description framework, and then have that automatically quality-check code, test it, generate SDKs and other tools, and even write out documentation. APIs are making continuous delivery and continuous integration (that is, automation) possible. Our APIsays Paris event will delve into some of the technical capabilities that let businesses leverage APIs to create the right application architecture environments for automation.
Meanwhile, speakers like Kristin Moyer, VP of Research at Gartner and Neha Sampat, CEO of Built.io, will talk about how businesses are finally seizing the API automation potential, and help point to what roadblocks remain.
Moyer’s keynote will describe the emergence of the programmable business model and share insights into how businesses are effectively implementing automated workflows. Moyer believes the static business model (where businesses are built around one model that has been internally created) has been one of the key barriers that has prevented enterprises from even understanding the potential automation can provide. Moyer will map the disintegration of the static business model and describe the rise of the programmable business model which is enabling a network of people to create their own value, which enterprises can then monetize through leveraging automation to identify when to offer algorithms and business moments that multiply the value chain.
Sampat will discuss learnings from creating Built.io’s two-years-in-the-making workflow automation product, Flow, which uses APIs to automate business processes and harness the Internet of Things. It follows similar products like RunMyProcess, Flowthings, Azuqua and Comindware that have all attempted to provide tools for business process automation in the past. To date, those tools are still predominantly niche driven with Fujitsu RunMyProcess — one of the sector’s first products in this space — still only seeing about 40,000 global visitors a month to its website (according to website traffic analyst, SimilarWeb). If there is so much potential in automating workflows, why are we still not doing it? Sampat’s presentation will help us understand the challenges and obstacles to making automation a reality.
Too often in tech circles, and even in the API community, we can be swept away by the potential of our technologies so much that we believe our own hype. APIdays Paris is where we stop and take stock: why hasn’t automation taken off and changed the daily life of our businesses?
How will automation disrupt our societies when we truly introduce automated business processes that go from knowing the customer and building new products and services, all the way to managing security and safety, and enhancing our quality of life? Where is the innovation truly happening that will shape the things to come? APIdays Paris puts automation on notice: it is time to realize its potential.