Digital is top of the agenda, but UK firms are still slow to embrace APIs and big data

Self-professed digital savvy UK firms are pushing out mobile apps, but failing to make investment in APIs and analytics despite the proven revenue return.

This trend conflicts with a desire to improve digital channels, as simply focusing on pushing out customer-facing apps may be a short sighted view, John Lewis’ online product director Sienne Veit warned

“Nowadays, not having an app would be like not having a website a few years ago – it is now a business essential. But it’s not just about having an app in the store; it’s about making sure this digital offering is aligned with all parts of the business.

“It’s essential that our digital offering is closely intertwined with the physical in-store experience. Our digital services need to allow for a fluid end-to-end journey. For example, because we sell considered, expensive items, a customer is likely to first look online, then go and look at the item in store, then head back online to order it. There cannot be any disconnect between any of these stages, which is why we need to provide great flexibility in our apps.”

Investing in APIs and analytics can provide a far larger return on investment than simply building apps.

API management vendor Apigee, which counts John Lewis as a customer, commissioned a survey of self-professed “digital leaders” within firms whose digital efforts consisted only of building mobile apps . The research found organisations delivering only apps reported an average £266,000 in increased revenue. Those that had invested in APIs and analytics as well as developing apps saw average returns of over £9,000,000.

Seventy-one percent of respondents had deployed a mobile app within a year before taking the survey, and fifty-five percent were planning on offering more services through mobile devices this year.

However, while two-thirds said they were considering developing APIs and how to collect and analyse data, only 26 percent of UK executives said they were deploying APIs this year, and only 35 percent would be bringing big data analytics into their products, processes and services by the end of 2015.

Apigee’s Bryan Kirschner, who leads the vendors institute for training and research said: “We believe businesses need to move beyond merely rolling out mobile apps and instead look more holistically at how they can understand and add value to their customers using data insights and analytics. Our research shows that only 10 percent of ‘app-only’ companies have seen an increase in revenue from their digital efforts versus 81 percent of those who have incorporated data analytics and implemented APIs along with their deployed apps.”

UK business leaders in this survey report that their top three barriers to digital transformation come in the form of limited budgets (35 percent), poor IT infrastructure (29 percent), and restricted executive support (25 percent).

Some 250 business leaders were surveyed by Apigee.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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