‘Back in the day’, the world of business looked very different. You would see very siloed markets, with specific products serving each of these almost entirely separately. Over the years, however, there has been a significant convergence of markets which has driven a more integrated approach to business.

At the centre of this seismic shift is the customer, and, whether that customer happens to be a business or the (wo)man on the street, it’s now all about delivering a seamless user experience.

But businesses need to ask themselves this question: Am I simply just ‘doing’ digital, or truly ‘being’ digital?

‘Doing’ digital transformation vs ‘Being’ truly transformed

Many businesses have found ways to transform their analogue or traditional business processes and products into refurbished ‘digital’ formats. Indeed, many have been pushed into doing so because their competitors have made a similar move, or because new businesses have entered the market, meaning that upgrading and digitising their systems is something they must do just to keep up.

But simply transforming from an offline or non-digital product to one that is a digitised process will no longer cut it. While on the face of it things seem to be moving forward, nothing has really changed other than format – all you’ve done is digitise a legacy system. This is too often a common trap that businesses fall into, and it’s exactly what we mean by just ‘doing’ digital.

However, there are many businesses today that champion a ‘fail-fast’ philosophy, and these most often end up leading change. Their goal is to entirely replace old models, continually restructure, and relentlessly rethink how digital business should be done, and what it ought to look like. ‘Being’ digital in this way is all about transforming your philosophy and business strategy, rather than simply trying to keep up with competition.

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By GlobalData

‘Being’ digital means being part of a digital ecosystem built on open APIs

What’s driven digitisation, and always will, is user experience. For many businesses this boils down to increasing productivity – allowing your customers to do more in less time, from one place.

This is why the sales function of business was the perfect space for the digital ecosystem to grow. On-the-go, on-mobile salespeople need access to lots of information from different places, at the same time, and from one device. Of course, having a network of connected digital applications facilitates this level of productivity perfectly.

Thus, the digital ecosystem model was born – and it’s what being truly digital looks like.

Today, we’re seeing more and more verticals move in this same direction, with lots of innovation happening particularly in financial services thanks to PSD2 and open banking.

At the heart of this model, open APIs do the crucial job of enabling businesses to connect and extract information easily. An open API strategy has therefore been a key tool in building the ecosystems we see today.

API integration is the tool your business needs to be a player in the truly digital future

However, open APIs aren’t enough. As the ecosystem model continues to boom, more and more products are being developed and entering the fray on a daily basis. In fact, a typical enterprise customer has 1000-plus applications, even if they don’t know it.

So, to let you in on a secret… it’s integrating these applications seamlessly that will be the next key step for digital transformation.

Why? Because the speed of communication needed to create a truly seamless customer experience is going to be best served by taking control of your API integration. With proper control, you can easily retrieve real time data from one system and input it into to another without having to hire a developer team to build custom integrations. This is why 55% of developers now say that API integration is ‘critical’ to business strategy.

This is why, as we continue to move into a truly digital future, businesses will only be able to evolve through an effective API integration strategy – and having the right strategy in place will mean you have the tools to be truly digital.

Read more: Top technology trends driving a business performance edge in 2019