I had the honor of sharing the set of IT FOR BUSINESS Magazine’s “La Matinale” program with Jean-Noël Veyrat (Head of API Management at CDC Informatique, the IT subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts) recently. The interview, conducted by Thomas Pagbe, enabled us to demonstrate how Axway’s Amplify Platform enabled the French Savings Bank to open up its information systems and improve services to citizens.
In addition to presenting the various use cases for government APIs, we addressed a number of important issues that apply to all companies embarking on this path:
How can APIs revolutionize traditional business models? What are the main principles and benefits of an API management policy? What value can businesses derive from API management? How can APIs foster collaboration and synergy within the company? How can acculturation and training promote API adoption? How can APIs be best secured? How can API projects be a success?
Read on for some key takeaways from the discussion.
APIfication of the French Savings Bank with Axway
Founded in 1816, the mission of Caisse des Dépôts (the French Savings Bank) is to serve the public interest. Today, this is especially true in the fields of banking, finance, savings funds, vocational training, and pensions.
It was with this last mission in mind that in 2008 CDC Informatique, the IT subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts, needed to interconnect with the Répertoire National Commun de la Protection Sociale, a tool for centralizing and managing social security information.
It was time to consider the medium- to long-term strategy for managing these APIs. CDC Informatique selected Axway’s Amplify Platform, which offers complete API lifecycle management and simplifies API adoption and use.
“Over the past 15 years, we have continued to develop the platform, offering ever more tools and accessing ever more APIs and consumers,” says Jean-Noël Veyrat.
The adoption of APIs has not been particularly even: the retirement and vocational training professions, for example, have historically had a strong need for interconnection with other players, and are therefore more mature when it comes to APIs.
Others, such as the banking sector, have been mainly driven to APIs for regulatory purposes, notably PSD2/PSD3 and Open Banking. However, Jean-Noël Veyrat observes that business lines are capitalizing on the new skills acquired in recent years to continue the “APIification” of their business.
Two concrete examples illustrate the current use cases:
- Professional training: CDC Informatique manages the “Mon Compte Formation” website, which gives employees more direct and autonomous access to information on their professional training, facilitating their ability to develop their skills throughout their career.Behind this initial showcase lies a set of APIs that work tirelessly behind the scenes: many internally developed APIs, but also services offered via APIs by Pôle Emploi (national employment centers) and Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse (French social security organization).
- Reference services: API-enabled services such as FranceConnect, to simplify online procedures for citizens, or Net Entreprises, a platform for corporate social declarations, are also widely used to authenticate Caisse des Dépôts customers on various portals.
IT’s mission as a champion of APIs
An essential key to the success of APIs is to define a real strategy. Notably, this means getting out of IT and meeting the business lines, to take a targeted approach to the real needs of the business.
For CDC Informatique, Jean-Noël Veyrat explains that this also involved ongoing training and support. Indeed, IT also has an acculturation mission to explain some basic concepts to the business lines, sparking excitement about the real business opportunities behind it all.
“In 2022 we launched a training course on the subject of APIs and API management. I noticed as I was consulting on projects that the same basic questions kept coming up,” explains Jean-Noël Veyrat.
“Now, this API culture training covers three main themes: the basics (theoretical and practical knowledge of the API domain, architectural principles, IT urbanization, how APIs structure the information system, etc.), API management functionalities, and finally monitoring of API use.”
This means supporting both API producers and API consumers in understanding how APIs are used: is an API consumed only 2 days a week, on weekdays or at weekends, is it consumed on desktop or mobile, is it consumed cyclically….
Taking all this metadata into account enables an API provider to continue improving service to consumers.
That’s why Amplify Platform is a universal API management platform, enabling a true overview of all your APIs: it connects your existing API data plans to the Amplify Platform management plan, while automating the discovery and monitoring of new APIs.
With a more complete view of APIs, organizations can leverage the data generated by API usage, reuse, and performance to eliminate those that don’t work and promote those that are popular.
Developing a product strategy to leverage APIs
As we often say here at Axway, the real value of APIs lies in their consumption. It’s one thing to have an information system that runs, that’s well exposed and secure, with APIs that work.
The next question to ask yourself concerns the ecosystem and consumers of these APIs. If the most beautiful product in the world isn’t consumed, it won’t make any money. This is where companies need to start thinking about marketing and “productization” of APIs.
When this cultural shift takes place, when APIs are no longer simply pieces of code but products in their own right, the priorities shift to focus more on quality and user experience.
If an API is a product, we want to encourage its consumption, which implies a marketing strategy and tools, essentially an API marketplace that offers the essential functions needed to properly display these digital services.
Many companies today are quite mature in technical terms, but they will have to exchange even more with the business units that are not necessarily accustomed to designing digital services using technical products.
It’s a question of getting them around the table, of having these exchanges that go beyond acculturation, as Jean-Noël Veyrat described earlier.
The transformation underway at CDC Informatique goes even further. The API management platform itself is becoming a product in its own right:
“In our team, we are in the process of adopting a product approach, meaning we have an API management product and our aim, all our underlying actions, is to continue to bring value to this foundation,” says Jean-Noël Veyrat.
“The team is organized around a core of experts, some of whom master the Dev part, the Ops part, or the security part, with the aim of giving teams maximum autonomy in their projects.
“One of the most important things is that this organization allows us to be in close contact with projects and to pick up on new trends and any weak signals,” explains Veyrat.
“For example, new banking regulations will soon require the use of APIs for SWIFT payments. This approach enables us to anticipate the evolution of the foundation and continue to provide new, adapted services.”
With Amplify Platform, CDC Informatique is well positioned to continue this product strategy journey, thanks to tools that simplify the consumption of internal and external APIs.
Coupled with this culture and strategy work, Amplify offers the tools not only to manage these APIs, but also to treat them as real high-value products.
Learn more about how adding an API digital products tier can drive faster development and greater revenue in our webinar.