Should You Consolidate Your Enterprise Business Application Stack?
Connecting lots of different systems is particularly marvelous for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs). Things that only seven or eight years ago would have been impossible to achieve for smaller organizations are now entirely within reach. Applications are getting easier to use, cheaper, and the API economy connects them together. Hurray!
But if you are a larger enterprise, sometimes this can feel out of control as disparate systems spiral out from the center of your organization. By that same token, the desire for order and control must always be balanced with practicality: yes, you could build an ERP that is also a POS in your campus cafeteria… but do you really want that?
According to PWC, utopian dreams of ERP systems that did everything have been replaced by connected applications. In their report Beyond ERP, they write, “CIOs are rethinking their approach to ERP, thanks to modular, cloud-based business applications that offer viable alternatives to the unwieldy, inflexible, and expensive systems that have long dominated the sector.”
For large enterprises, the API game therefore consists of consolidating systems by choosing enterprise-level systems within areas of expertise and then using APIs to tie those together.
In this realignment, a line must be walked between these two questions:
- How end-to-end can a system be while still dominating the user experience and agility you require?
- How many small systems can you connect before you introduce chaos and inefficiency into your company?
In traditional business areas, large end-to-end systems that used to be unified in single systems like ERPs are splitting into separate applications, mostly in the cloud, that integrate with each other and solve individual sets of problems better than a large system could.
In other fields, though, things are just getting started consolidating. For example, in the digital world, only recently did we see the friendly unification of content and digital asset management. Based on this unification, new opportunities are emerging for CIOs: A good example of the API game for enterprises is a new integration of an end-to-end translation management system with an all-in-one content and digital asset system like Adobe AEM for global marketing and operations.
But that is just one opportunity of many for the world’s largest enterprises.
The API economy is still growing, allowing organizations to connect different tools and systems to simulate the effect of having a true all-in-one systems consolidation, even within a single area of expertise.
The need for highly reliable systems combined with the need for pure operational excellence makes relying on several systems that are connected a risky prospect. Not only do APIs provide opportunities for failure, if an organization decides their APIs are not producing revenue, you could end up depending on an orphaned API.
The summary of issues you can run up against includes:
- Functionality limitations. It’s quite often the case that an API teases you with the ability to do some things, but that one thing you’d really like to do is not available.
- Getting held hostage. Maybe you took the time to API two systems or two organizations together, but now you are ready for a change. Do you really want to go through all that again?
- Multiple vendor relations. Relying on several vendors means creating tickets on different ticketing systems. It means negotiating different deals. Influencing different product roadmaps. The list goes on and on.
- Loss of operational excellence. All-in-one systems are often characterized by their operational excellence. By rolling your needs into a single system, they are better able to develop quality products, interfaces, and find edge cases within a single framework. But this isn’t always true
Wordbee is a translation management system that consolidates several different areas into a single system, and then allows you to API with Wordbee. The areas consolidated by Wordbee include:
- Localization project management
- Vendor management
- Finance and invoicing
- Business analytics
- CAT tool (computer-assisted translation)
- File format support
- Linguistic resources and terminology
- Translation memory
What can the Wordbee API do?
Oh man, it can do a lot of things. But you can API with your other management systems, accounting, CMS solutions, DMS solutions, Sharepoint, cloud storage… in short, you can connect it everywhere. We recommend just getting in touch with us. As an enterprise solution, Wordbee is feature-rich and is best covered in a demo or conversation.
What to have your team watch for in an API
When evaluating a software that requires an API connection to function with the rest of your technology, this presentation covers API evaluation in greater detail (from 2013 but still useful), but these four questions will go pretty far in assessing your next software solution:
- Is the API mature, well-documented, and supported?
- Does this connection do all the things you need it to do?
- To what degree does integrating with this API limit your future options?
- Is there a better option for consolidation available?