Moving to the API economy: how do we do that?

Published on 13/04/2017 in Tech, tips & tricks

Moving to the API economy: how do we do that?

In the dossier of this edition of the One magazine, we talk about real time data and artificial intelligence. Although the discussions about big data are still raging in many companies, it is becoming clear that the IT systems of different companies will be interconnected to exchange data in real time. All data, and not only big data, become inter-company as well as intra-company streaming data.

Start with your vision and then a strategy to realize it. In our vision, every single piece of data, every application, every sub-application and every piece of infrastructure becomes an asset that can potentially be used by other organizations (within regulatory and fair use boundaries, of course). 

This means that you need to be able to interconnect all and any of your assets, both the historical and the future ones. This can be implemented by an API management platform (APIM). The APIM story within Proximus began with an innovatory project, known as Enabling Company (EnCo). This project was realized in a very short timeframe and employed an agile way of working.

Build a platform

The ambitions of the EnCo project are to enable both internal and external customers in their digital transformation. This is done by offering tools to create services by combining digital assets from Proximus, those of the customers and assets from third parties. The EnCo project also needed to include a marketplace in which to buy and sell these assets and products. 

The project had its first success in making location information available, giving access to our bulk sms platform and our IoT management platform. In parallel, IT was reviewing the enterprise architecture. They decided to use the API management platform and functional clustering (business capabilities) as new middleware architecture.

Long term

Reinventing your IT architecture and corporate middleware has a big impact, as it touches all applications. You need the time to make it converge with your application maintenance and application strategy. Additionally, you need a trigger to make resources available to really start implementing this long-term project.

Start small

It started with the business asking to implement a greenfield IT project for our customers, so as to easily gain access to our data. This allowed us to start in an agile way: start small, with the permission to ‘fail fast.’ An initial instance was set up with modules for API management, IT security, life cycle management and marketplace and was realized with little investment. 

After a small study, we decided that the WSO2 platform originally set up for EnCo would become our corporate APIM platform. The APIM platform started small and is now rapidly growing to become the heart of our IT. All new internal and outside-facing applications will be based on it. Over time, we will be able to open up many of our assets. Everybody will be able to become a full player in the digital economy by making use of our functionalities, data, applications and business model.

Lessons learned
  • Consider all IT elements as real assets that can be used by others
  • Start small, start fast and design for failure to have a first concrete working example
  • Involve the business to decide on the first project
  • Have a clear enterprise architecture strategy
  • Go for an open, modular approach.

Go to www.enco.io for more information.


One magazine is the Proximus B2B magazine for CIOs and IT professionals in large and medium-sized organisations.

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