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APIs are transforming companies into ecosystems

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“These companies that are turning into ecosystems through IPYs.”

Strategies for opening up a company decoded during a dinner debate

by Dorian Marcellin – Alliancy

On November 6, 2019, Axway, in partnership with Alliancy, organized a major dinner debate entitled “Companies that transform themselves into ecosystems thanks to APIs” at the Hotel Shangri-La in Paris.

Objective: To discuss the ongoing APIsation of information systems from a resolutely strategic and business perspective.

In the room: CIO, Chief Data Officer, specialists in information system architecture, but also HR director or bailiff… About 60 guests with various profiles attended the dinner debate organized by Axway on the theme of the strategic dimension of opening up the information system and around a central question: “How much is the opening of companies to their ecosystems an obligation today and what are the challenges?

Several key witnesses from companies such as ENGIE, The Adecco Group, Acoss and AIFE came to share their experiences and opinions. While all agreed on the fundamental movement that has emerged in recent years in their organizations, the differences in terms of profiles and activities have also shown that the initial question opened up many others. It was then a question as much of corporate cultures, organizational choices as of technological biases.

Become a “data-driven company”

Thus, Gérard Guinamand, Chief Data Officer of ENGIE, pointed out that the clear direction given by the group’s General Manager, Isabelle Kocher, had been an extremely powerful mandate.

“ur API approach is one of the main levers of our vision of the Data-Driven Company. This vision is that of a major business transformation, based on zero-carbon and “as a service.” And all aspects of this transformation imply a better sharing of data, which must become a “common good” within the group,” he explained.

Vincent Castella, delegate to the director of the Agence pour l’informatique financière de l’État (Aife), certainly does not have the same transformation challenges as a group of 160,000 people like ENGIE, but the fact remains that his agency is resolutely working towards the increasing openness of the authorities’ systems. In 2019, Aife set up the PISTE platform (Platform for Intermediation of Services for State Transformation), a service for sharing the State’s exposed services with its ecosystems.

At the table, Vincent Castella notes that the main challenge is not technical, but strategic and therefore also cultural: “With hindsight, we realize that the daily struggle is rather that of changing the mindset at all levels of an organization. You have to learn a new way of thinking about the services you want to deliver and therefore review the way you work.

An exciting transformation

A sentiment shared by Laurent Rousset, the Director of Information Systems for France at The Adecco Group. The company, historically perceived as a specialist in temporary work, is now transforming itself to greatly expand its “HR” service offerings.

“Our customers are digitizing themselves and asking us to interact with them on a digital model. In the HR sector, this is extremely new. We need to better share information and data to imagine the services of tomorrow,” he says.

This work, which is based on a resolute APIsation, is also a clear way for him to better link the digital and the human because this bias puts the “candidate” back at the heart of the equation for Adecco. Services are focused on it and the company must be able to model unique characteristics, for example, based on soft-skills, which come out of historical business repositories.

Jean-Baptiste Courouble, CIO of the Central Agency of Social Security Organisations (Acoss), is also undergoing a fundamental transformation so that his organization goes beyond the status of a mere collector and “treasurer,” in order to activate various services for the public. This requires close collaboration with start-ups and innovative companies specializing in jobbing in order to respond to employment issues.

“This dynamic has been very well perceived in the organization. Everyone quickly agreed on the need to open up, if only to change the image of the institution, to demonstrate that we are capable of evolving in modern ecosystems. The teams’ enthusiasm curve soared with the first achievements, “he remembers.”

The key point of the IT-Business relationship

Axway also played the game of debate and listening, in keeping with the bias of the evening devoted to business issues rather than pure technological achievements. Emmanuel Méthivier, French Catalyst Innovation and Digital Transformation at Axway also spoke of his long experience at Crédit Agricole. In particular, he pointed out that Open Banking had been able to be approached from a very tactical angle by organizations, rather than under the guidance of a global strategic vision. A “missed appointment” that is partly in the sense of the legislation, such as the DSP2. Moved from table to table during the evening, like all the great witnesses, to answer as many questions as possible from the guests, Emmanuel Méthivier then concluded the exchanges by identifying the main points of convergence in the debates. “Among the recurring topics we were able to discuss this evening, which are likely to make the link between the subject of APIsation and that of the global strategic transformation of a company, I was able to note that a particular focus was placed on the good performance of relations between business teams and IT teams. Similarly, the governance to be put in place, in order to maintain clarity of strategic intent as organizations and their systems open up, is a major concern,” he summarized.

There is no doubt that these two-and-a-half hours of debate will not have been enough to cover all aspects of such a complex subject. But the guests were able to leave satisfied to have exchanged in all frankness and transparency in a privileged setting and a friendly and benevolent atmosphere. The promise is to enable organizations to take advantage of these opportunities to share experiences more regularly in the future, as Lionel Linossier, Axway’s Vice President Sales & Operations France, pointed out: “We will continue this first meeting on the theme of ecosystems and APIs from the beginning of 2020. We will be happy to welcome you to go even further together on this theme. In the meantime, new organizations will be able to demonstrate their own path of openness, because, despite very different levels of maturity, all had in common the feeling of a strong acceleration for the coming months.

Learn more about more exciting Axway events coming up.