You may have heard of Open Banking, Open Insurance, or perhaps Open Healthcare – the truth is, that’s just a start. At Axway, we see the world heading resolutely to an Open Everything model, where data is unlocked and recombined to create new digital experiences and solve problems in creative ways.
But as companies embrace APIs and the integrations (MFT, B2B/EDI) needed to participate in these expanding ecosystems, they’re also grappling with finding the right security balance, competing in a fast-changing technology landscape, and adapting to a post-pandemic world where Covid affected nearly everything.
We sought to understand how today’s organizations are responding to a changing landscape and how they’re opening up with the 2022 Open Everything Strategy Survey, and here are some of my takeaways on digital strategies and investments for accelerated business growth.
Security remains a top priority
Whether it’s forming strategies to secure APIs, protecting personal data in banking and medical circles, trusting data security in the “Metaverse,” or concerns about moving to the cloud, data security ranks high among respondents engaged in API development and MFT connectivity.
It’s not an unreasonable concern: the digital surface area is increasing at the same time that we face a talent shortage, so the growth in security attacks will continue while we will have fewer skills to combat it.
It’s telling, then, that almost 1/2 of respondents rank security as the highest concern with API growth, followed by API complexity. The two are closely interrelated: analysts predict that complexity will only grow as API proliferation continues, with more and more unmanaged APIs. It’s clear that taming and managing that complexity will continue to be a priority for organizations – not only to improve security, but also to drive better business outcomes.
The #1 strategy used to secure APIs right now is to develop a more holistic approach to security, with Zero Trust Architectures coming in dead last. This is disappointing, as I’ve written before about how Zero Trust is probably the best security model available to us today – and it is widely applicable beyond just APIs. I am convinced that the union of API- and ZTA-based systems may finally prove decisive enough to push back against the hacker free-for-all that’s engulfed cyberspace.
APIs are the way forward
What I did find heartening: for companies in most industries, an API-first approach – to either API development and adoption or API-enabled managed file transfer (MFT) and B2B/EDI is a critical component and enabler in their digital transformation journey. But there are certainly still hurdles to overcome.
When creating an API, the most important criteria respondents cited was security, at 30% – it’s an understandable baseline criterion. But the very next one they claimed as important is revelatory: 15% say API adoption/consumption is an important consideration in building APIs.
Decision-makers are starting to understand the importance of API adoption, as opposed to investing time and resources into creating more of them. We saw this in our API adoption survey earlier this year, when two-thirds of respondents said the full value of APIs isn’t realized until they are widely used.
It’s why we’ve just announced the availability of Amplify Enterprise Marketplace: because once you understand the importance of treating APIs as products, the last mile is a storefront in the form of an API marketplace, which ensures API products are exposed for easy discovery and consumption by developers.
Of course, there’s still work to be done to arrive at widespread openness and API adoption.
Industries are at different levels of digital maturity
As the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced it’s working on an open banking rule, only 8% of banking and finance respondents say they have a mature internal and external API strategy. That said, there’s optimism: while nearly a third of respondents associate open banking with regulation and will comply if needed, almost half see it as a way to discover new business models.
Meanwhile, healthcare still has some work to do: for 55% and 51% of respondents, healthcare outranks other industries as being in need of digital transformation for API and MFT, respectively. There’s also mixed confidence with regards to trusting insurance providers and doctors to protect privacy online when sharing patient data.
What’s more, more people trust banking and finance institutions with their data than they trust medical and insurance providers. We’ve known this for a while: open banking and digital finance in general are much further along in their overall adoption and confidence than healthcare, but perhaps this also highlights an opportunity: healthcare is the “next frontier” for Open Everything.
A discussion from this blog series sums it up well: there are still interoperability hurdles to overcome, with an industry that’s been slow to move and remains concerned about security.
“The fact that we’re dealing with protected health information is part of the reason it doesn’t go as quickly as some other industries,” says Marc Overhage, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Anthem, Inc.
Viet Nguyen, MD, the new Chief Standards Implementation Officer at HL7 International believes healthcare is in a similar position to what happened in finance a decade or so ago: at the time people were unsure about using financial apps. As general trust in the security parameters that that are used finance grew, so did adoption – and now extremely lucrative fintechs are blossoming.
COVID disrupted everything
We’re all keenly aware of this. When it comes to our industry, COVID impacted not only supply chains, but also tech adoption. It also highlighted the role of APIs in our daily lives and systems.
APIs were already helping tie supply chains together: APIs integrate tracking logistics and payment systems the most at 50% and 54% respectively. And the need to establish new connections was the most significant way (39%) that COVID disrupted enterprise supply chains.
The takeaway for me here is the agility of an API-first model is invaluable in a crisis. When an organization exposes its data as a discrete, packaged digital product, it is much easier to pivot and reconfigure new connections with different partners instead of having a long onboarding process.
There’s a looming shortage of expertise
Finally, I touched on it above, but a large majority of respondents are bracing for an expertise gap in the coming years as a potential shortage of software and IT infrastructure talent impacts innovation, security, and API adoption.
Thinking of the future of technology, nearly 86% of respondents think there will be a gap in demand for software and architectural engineers in coming years.
How will companies make sure they have the technology skills needed to innovate? It’s true that SaaS can help free up teams to focus on the bigger problems, but looking to 2023, it will take some creative thinking to find solutions to this looming expertise gap.
Dig into the full survey to see how others are moving along the path to Open Everything.