IT is Where Digital and Physical Retail Products Converge

I had the pleasure of speaking with Bryan Kirschner, Director of the Apigee Institute, a new research and strategy organization at Apigee committed to helping businesses extend their leadership in this new digital world.

We spoke about the way technology is causing the convergence of physical and digital products. For example, there is a sports apparel company that sells both sneakers and wearable electronic devices with integrated internet interfaces. As a second example, there is a well-known spice company with a web-based application that helps you select appropriate spices based on your “Flavor Print”.

Bryan said, that over time, companies who are not yet interested in providing digital enhancements to their existing products or creating new products with a technical connection, will soon either decide to or be compelled to provide these products because of strong market forces.

Bryan went on to say that this trend in retail, and equally strong in other industries, will place increased challenges on internal IT organizations to produce new and innovative types of user experiences for their internal clients as well as their external customers. These enhancements, however, are much more than an application with a pretty face, these challenges will also require robust behind-the-scenes system architectures to support them.

We then moved to the topic of how IT professionals can use this dual need of new application types for the business and robust technical architectures behind the scenes to their professional advantage.

On the technical side, he then explained that Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can provide a flexible, efficient, and measurable way to connect the diverse systems needed to create these new hybrid type products and solutions. Having a conceptual understanding of how APIs can be used to connect seemingly un-connectable and diverse systems, combined with a working technical knowledge to create, implement, and support these APIs makes you an extremely important player within your IT organization and a very marketable commodity within the industry.

On the business side, as a technical professional, having a strong understanding of your company’s business goals further enhances your value to the company because you can convert business goals into technical architectures. Additionally, if the APIs you create are implemented properly, they can also be used as the ideal collector of valuable business information and thus, the basis for client interaction, system interaction, and general business analytics.

This technical and business combination makes you, the programmer, a critical hub in corporate initiatives by making important business objectives technically possible.

As for specific career advice related to our discussion, Bryan suggested the following: • Focus on delivering a quality experience to your users, not just on the technical aspects of your assignments. • Think like an entrepreneur as to how your company’s data and system infrastructure can be used to enhance the customer experience and your company’s business goals in general. • Be innovative in your thinking as to what is possible. • Understand the importance of “Transaction Identity” as you create API based solutions. It is this identity that will enhance the value of the applications you develop, providing a ready-to-use repository of transaction statistics that can be used as the basis for business analytics. • Understand that the users you serve are your business partners. • Be a digital strategist by continually thinking of ways your company’s data and systems can be used to business competitive advantage.

Bryan Kirschner and Apigee Institute, a research and strategy organization at Apigee dedicated to helping Global 2000 companies extend their leadership in today's app economy, can be found at http://pages.apigee.com/institute.html. Apigee, a company specializing in providing a digital business platform that helps businesses become leaders in the mobile -first digital world through big data analytics integrated with app and API digital infrastructure, can be found at www.apigee.com.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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