You can't have your IPA without an API… or can you?

Look away now if you thought this was an article about your favorite India Pale Ale…


I want to talk about how creating a strategy and management plan for your API (Application Programming Interfaces) can lead you to IPA (Intelligent Process Automation), and how you might be able to get around lack of or a non standard API on a legacy system with RPA (Robotic Process Automation).


Firstly we should decide what we want to do. Putting together a list of business outcomes from our business plan is a good place to start. Then we should justify these targets and set the context for those involved by stating why we are aiming for those particular outcomes. 


Next up is a high level plan for how we are going to achieve them, and how technology can support that work. These steps hopefully provide us with enough detail to decide when the work can realistically take place, how much it's going to cost and how long it's going to take.


Before you set to work on a technical plan of any kind you must set your what, why, how and when in a business context.


But back to the topic - An API is the route into the data that will enable our Digital Transformation aspirations and lead to Process automation, self service and further data generation. API’s provide the bridge and the security between our data and the apps and their developers.


It's likely that the vast majority of applications that our businesses use have an API, these API’s are the gateway to the data our staff, customers and applications are generating all day every day and the route that our inhouse or 3rd party developers will use to surface and work with said data.


An API provides a standardised way for developers, reliant processes and applications to access data. This interface also provides a measurable, securable and scalable interface for when things take off.


But what if you have a legacy application with a non standard or non existent API? If this is the case then you may well turn to RPA. The software Bot’s can be trained to use the existing user interface reducing the need for an API and providing similar capability.


At the same time as creating a map of where we might or might not need an API or RPA, we will want to see how we are going to use the data that is now available to achieve our IPA goals. Are we going to need some e help from AI, or Machine Learning. Is our data set complete or do we need to look elsewhere for big data sources to combine with our own information?


Every outcome will require a different solution. What they will all require is a considered plan.