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Data silos: the hidden productivity killer

If your company is like most others, you’re probably accessing a multitude of different applications on a daily basis – be it your company Intranet, ERP, CRM, Line-of-Business applications, online meeting software or just your email.

Ever more complex software architecture fractures information management

According to IDC, the average user spends upwards of 36% of their time looking for and consolidating information from across their numerous enterprise applications. That’s a lot of time wasted that could be spent on more productive activities; if only there was an easier and faster way to get an overview of your data and answers to your questions. Although there are some approaches which tie all things ‘business’ into one central hub, these solutions are typically limited to only a few sources or expensive due to the customizations needed to marry the software with your system.

Software manufacturers aren’t short of ideas on how to make work easier, but the number one obstacle faced by any effort aiming to consolidate data access into a single application is the widespread reliance on data silos. Data silos are data channels which live in their own little bubble, locked into a database - completely unaware of the vast amount of related data flowing around it.

While data silos have a few upsides, like providing micro services, these benefits are quickly becoming less relevant with the advent of the Digital Workplace. More so now than ever, there is a demand to show data from multiples sources in one succinct interface, across all devices – even on mobile.

The answer is to open your data silos, and the way to do this is utilizing RESTful APIs.

APIs are becoming a dominant standard for exchanging information between applications

API stands for Application Programming Interface, and RESTful is a standardized architecture using HTTP requests to exchange data with the API’s source. It has become the dominant standard for exporting data in an agnostic format, so that it can be consumed by other applications. APIs are a great way for getting quick and secure access to application’s data, be it in the cloud or on-premises. Whilst APIs are becoming more widespread in their adoption, there still are some dead zones amongst legacy vendors whose products have no APIs, bad ones or numerous disconnected ones.

Because of this, corporate IT is now moving towards adopting an “API first” approach when selecting new software suppliers. The openness, speed and ease of use of APIs will make exchanging data between applications effortless in the future. Organizations want to make sure they don’t bet on an old “hunk of junk” today, and avoid the future pain of discovering that their data is trapped in a silo, or worse, needs to be painfully migrated to another platform a few years down the line.

Where are your APIs?

The good news is, as pressure on vendors is starting to increase, more and more vendors are rolling out APIs as part of their products; it’s worthwhile to check if any of your corporate applications now have APIs available. If they don’t, call your representative as many organizations at least have an early access programme for product APIs. (If all else fails, consider moving suppliers entirely – although this might be a short-term hassle, the long-term payoff is worth it.)

Armed with benefits of the sleek new world of APIs, you can start taking meaningful strides towards creating a Digital Workplace. By adopting solutions such as Now Assistant which can turn data from many different APIs into an AI-powered Card stream that shows users everything they need to know in one place – rather than expecting them to waste 36% of their time hunting for the right piece of information.

One Card can inform you about the current sales targets, while another shows you a PTO request from your team member, followed by a reminder about your upcoming Webex meeting. With the power of AI and the “magic” of Cards – which are shown to you based on time and priority – you can finally lean back and let important updates come to you in real-time via your application’s APIs.

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