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API Management

Bridging the Operational Chasm

August 8, 2017
John Rethans

How legacy mindsets and processes can stifle digital transformation

In a previous post, we introduced Apigee Compass, a new product that not only pinpoints an organization’s progress in its digital transformation but helps it chart a path forward.

Here we’ll delve into a significant problem that we’ve seen among customers: the “operational chasm.”

Customers we work with are undergoing a big shift. They’re moving from industrial operating models designed to optimize economies of scale of production to digital models that leverage clouds and modern software development practices to compete on demand-side economies of scale.

The image below illustrates this dynamic, with the business side pursuing digital goals and the IT team working to implement modern technologies and methodologies, such as an API-first approach, to achieve these objectives.

However, there continues to be a high risk of failure because of the unseen impact of legacy mindsets, entrenched and reinforced by operational processes and governance across the enterprise. We call this an “operational chasm.”


For example, many companies want to drive new sources of revenue via an API program, but because these companies classify APIs as "technical infrastructure," they don't make other necessary adjustments to their go-to-market, sales, marketing, and product management approaches.

Beyond building APIs, a business should manage them like products, investing in self-service features and constant iterations to make the APIs as easy as possible for developers to use. The business should devise marketing to promote its APIs and cultivate evangelism programs to help partners and developers maximize the APIs' leverage.

Companies that fail to make these kinds of changes might succeed in building APIs—but they’ll struggle to get the level of adoption and impact that they desire.

Another common example: an organization wishes to gain agility or speed by developing a robust set of APIs, which can typically be built in a matter of hours or days.

However, once the organization begins to design and build the APIs, it often tries to employ legacy software development, governance, and funding processes, plunging the API program into long delays and frustrating bureaucracies.

We run into these and many other patterns again and again during the course of our work with customers—the best efforts of business and IT get thwarted by policies and procedures rooted in the non-digital age.

Apigee Compass is designed to help navigate the operational chasm by breaking the process down into actionable parts, and to guide you and your teams to remake your internal processes to accelerate, rather than hamper, your API-first digital transformation.

Coming up in the next post, we’ll dig into the methodology behind Apigee Compass, and provide some perspective on some of its key attributes and assumptions.

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