Opening Everything through collaboration – the API way

API collaboration through Open Everything

Collaboration is at the heart of digital innovation. Building or taking part in a digital platform economy means encouraging and enabling an ecosystem of collaboration. This opens up new opportunities, markets, and also customer experiences powered by capabilities that are complementary to the ones your business offers.

API collaboration through Open Everything

A recent hybrid event hosted at Axway’s Scottsdale office looked at collaboration on some of these opportunities and themes from both an intra and inter-industry perspective.

All industries have their particular focus, and most times, regulatory pressures. Yet, increasingly, the boundary between industries (fintech and InsureTech, Supply Chain and IoT and Robotics, Healthcare and Payments) is where the action is.

Unlock new capabilities

Technologies like API Management, Event-Driven Architecture, or Robotic Process Automation are helping unlock new capabilities and enabling businesses to team up with others, even in other industries. And they’re also helping companies get a handle on data internally.

Axway Catalyst, Brian Otten, kicked off the conversation by inviting participants to share some of their challenges in maintaining a strategic approach to data. One participant from a U.S. financial services organization shared that data privacy and security — but also data rights — are an ongoing focus.

Automation with APIs has helped to simplify security processes at his CPA firm. Another participant added that auditing and security management consistency across the entire enterprise continues to be an ongoing challenge.

Customer data is precious, so respecting the privacy of the customer while enabling data democratization through consent management is key. Otten explained that we’re moving into a platform world with shared components. Authorization authentication through a common platform — especially in a hybrid deployment model — will help to speed openness.

Axway VP of Healthcare, Ruby Raley added that automating security — such as with the Amplify API Management Platform — frees up developers, as well as gives managers and CISOs confidence around regulatory requirements.

“If we take security out of the hands of the developer and put it into the front door of the platform, then the developer can actually focus on their work as opposed to checking the box,” Raley explained.

It’s a model, she has seen firsthand in her field: An API-first approach gives healthcare organizations the tools to create, manage, and scale their user-experience APIs and securely open channels to the healthcare ecosystem, including third-party developers.

Eliminate data silos is key

Eliminating data silos is a central part of opening up to take part in ecosystems. But how can you offer a rich marketplace for cross-industry digital products and services with high self-service, collaboration, and innovation?

Otten says designing APIs for internal and external use is a start, and successfully using APIs to open your enterprise will require more strategy:

“A lot of people start out thinking about public APIs that they want to release into the world. But APIs are really critical for improving and optimizing processes internally as well. Building APIs in a kind of bespoke manner may have a place, but when you’re actually looking to open up your platforms, you really want to make sure that you can join these things together.”

Open Everything Cocktails and Collaboration Event, November 18th at Axway’s Scottsdale office.

Otten added that one of the goals of creating an API layer is abstraction: the ability to package up any given business capability and make sure that you’re simply delivering what people need.

“An API strategy gives you the opportunity to create a true abstraction layer where you can plug and play. And one thing I’ve seen is that modernization comes along with that abstraction play because now you’ve got it abstracted to the level where you can swap out the underlying systems. APIs are really good at that, but it also gives you a grounding for building great experiences and making sure that those developers who may be outside the control of your organization, get the full description of what’s required.”

It comes back to treating APIs as a product, Otten adds: “API design is no different than product design. API as a product means the API is the product that people are going to interact with. And they have to know how to get started, what the FAQs are, in some kind of common language that makes sense. That’s real, strategic API development.”

Digital success: delivering meaningful experiences

The customer experience continues to reign supreme, and Otten explains that mere customization (such as a web page that says, “Hi Brian!” when he logs on) is not the same thing as true personalization for a more brilliant digital experience.

“This is where we want to start thinking about how we anticipate some of the meaningful, impactful, things for our customers or our workforce. Can we anticipate what they need when they need it? How can we create innovative products where we’re able to give people what they need before they think about it?” Otten said.

A lot of this comes down to simplifying experiences, he added. “The name of the game in the future is going to be, ‘how do I get my capability into a platform that everybody’s comfortable with and everybody uses. And how do I make sure that I don’t have to step outside that experience?’”

Otten illustrated this with the example of buying a house — people tend to go to different vendors and places to get insurance, surveys, title, and so forth.

He believes the companies that are going to have advantages are the ones who see where they play a part in overall experiences and then make themselves a part of that. And that’s where platforms and APIs can enable companies to be readily consumable on this new, open marketplace.

The importance of experience extends to developer teams as well. Raley explains that as healthcare patients, we get easily frustrated — and understandably so — when we are trying to complete an action on our provider’s site and are forced to go to a different app or generally given the runaround.

We want to complete the process. And she added that developers feel that same frustration with their work when faced with a fragmented process:

“If you really want to drive adoption of your platform, here’s the secret sauce that can differentiate you from the competitors: give people the ability to complete a piece of work in one transaction. When you start putting all the steps together, you take all this time out of the process and you delight your developers,” Raley said.

Open banking at the center of Open Everything

Laurent Van Huffel, VP Sales Strategic Accounts North America at Axway, shared how open banking is the first step to opening everything. “Customers want agility and convenience in real-time, Van Huffel explained, “They do bank wherever they are, whenever they want, and they are dictating the way they want to do business with you.”

Open banking goes beyond exposing a few APIs from a financial institution to a new dimension where you can securely participate in a larger ecosystem: “We believe that in the strategy of Open Everything, whether you’re a bank, an insurance, a Telco, or a healthcare organization, you’re going to have to open up and unlock your data to create additional value chains outside of your four walls to participate in these ecosystems,” Van Huffel added.

While open banking was regulatory-driven in Europe with PSD2, in the U.S. and Canada it has been largely market-driven.

Organizations like the Financial Data Exchange (FDX) have stepped in to fill the gap, joined this year by Axway. FDX is working to create and drive the adoption of a common API standard that provides interoperability around financial data sharing in North America.

In order for financial service providers to stand out in an open banking ecosystem, Van Huffel says, they’ll need to create a top-of-the-line user experience.

A key piece of open banking is consent management — allowing users to consent to open up their banking information to a third-party payment provider, for instance. If these processes are streamlined and secure, Van Huffel says customers and developers will find it easiest to connect to your APIs, giving you a competitive advantage over other banks.

Van Huffel went on to share uses cases that have been identified as Axway rolls out its open banking-specific platform. Surveys have shown that some of the most valuable use cases to North American banks right now are money movement and treasury on-demand, as well as account data aggregation and consumer spending.

Read more about how financial institutions are driving the value of open banking in the white paper he cited.

Opening up healthcare for an improved patient experience

Principles introduced in open banking are rapidly expanding to include open finance, open data… to open everything. Another industry that’s undergoing dramatic changes to open up data repositories and build more composable ecosystems is healthcare.

Ruby Raley explained that the healthcare industry is currently under the transformation: In the United States, a large set of regulatory changes is requiring greater openness for providers, payers, pharmacy benefit managers, and even drug and life sciences supply chains.

“What we have realized is that we can effect a massive change in the quadruple aim of providing the right care, at the right time, for the right patient, and at the right price. And we need to do that by giving the patient – the consumer – control,” Raley said.

Those who are caring for a family member with a long-term illness, Raley explains, know how challenging it is to get data and move from specialist to specialist.

Healthcare partners have begun complying with all these regulations that aim to simplify processes for the patient by opening up their enterprise and exposing FHIR APIs. From patient access APIs to provider directory APIs or hospital portals.

New requirements continue to roll out, such as price transparency laws, and the data that needs to be available for patients, plans, and the providers needs to be real time — it cannot be batched once a month or once every six months. Raley says these changes cannot be viewed as one-off projects merely for compliance purposes.

“If you build every one of these regulatory things as a separate project, you are going to fail. And I don’t usually say things that dramatically, but I’m telling you: you don’t have the time, the people, the money to build every API as a separate project,” Raley said.

Instead, she explained, building more composable ecosystems with building blocks allows organizations to use low-code solutions and think in terms of design, planning ahead. It allows for process automation and reusing components to become invaluable as each of the regulations continues to build on the previous ones.

What’s more, focusing on creating reusable building blocks helps keep the cost of compliance down and allows organizations to develop a competitive advantage and meet their mission’s aims.

“Every healthcare company I talk to is mission-driven. They tell me ‘We are here to provide help for our members, our patients, we’re here to make a difference. We care,’” Ruby said. And building stronger healthcare ecosystems, she says, will allow partners to go beyond health, extending to patients’ financial health as well to serve the whole person.

And it’s a principle that generally extends to “open everything:” building ecosystems that allow more brilliant customer experiences, putting people in control of their data and their needs at the center of an evolving marketplace.

As Brian Otten puts it, collaboration happens externally, from company to company or industry to industry, but it also needs to happen within enterprises, where technology teams shouldn’t be operating in a silo separate from the business teams.

“Technologists in the digital age should be part of the innovation. It really starts with understanding the business and having people work together in many ways to do it,” Otten concludes.

Learn how Axway is enabling organizations to “Open Everything” and derive new value from what they already have in the process.

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Content Contributor at Axway, Lydia is a journalist and communications professional. After working as a news anchor, reporter, and producer, she offers a behind-the-scenes perspective to help subject matter experts and companies share their message with journalists and bloggers in the enterprise technology space. Lydia is bilingual and a French-American dual citizen.

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