Automation & Technology
Creating an API-Centric Culture
By Sam Lindstrom, Sr. Director, Product Management, Encompass Lending Platform ICE Mortgage Technology
Building an API-centric culture can help extend the capabilities of your Encompass® instance and expand your business. I recently sat down with industry and ICE experts at Experience 2022, to discuss how we're working internally to help foster this API-centric culture, while improving the flexibility of the Encompass platform.
So, why is this important to ICE? It really comes down to three things: Aligning businesses with technology, creating a collaborative environment where we can connect with our customers, and making Encompass work for our customers’ needs. They have already invested in our technology, and we want to make it reusable and a consistent source of value.
API usage at ICE has come a long way in a very short period of time. We had just one API in 2017, and now have over 400, with daily API traffic running at over 200 million. This represents a huge evolution curve, which has included the development of much needed API functionalities. These include automated document sending built around the Encompass workflow, and enhanced conditions, which was the first feature to be 100% developer focused.
Alex Walling, head of sales engineering at Rapid API did a wonderful job of explaining the importance of creating an API-centric culture. In essence, he confirmed that digital is the new normal, and that just about everything digital is built on APIs. Most of what we do today has some connection to software, and because of this, every company in the world is undergoing some sort of digital transformation in order to stay relevant. Walling likened APIs to Legos, where we take different pieces - different building blocks - and construct something. In essence, APIs are the building blocks of software. And, APIs are here to stay. According to Rapid API research, 93% of developers say that APIs are essential to software development. And, Gartner estimates that 80% of organizations will have an advanced API strategy by 2025.
The challenge here is that the number of developers is not growing quickly enough to match the amount of investment going into API innovation and creation. To minimize the potential negative impact of this gap, we need to help developers become more efficient by adding APIs and technologies that make their jobs easier. Solving this issue involves both internal (within a lending organization) and external (within technology providers, such as ICE) strategies. Here, I’ll break down some things to consider for both:
Internal Strategies and Solutions:
When developing your internal plan of attack, you first want to define the API technology and implementation (people) resources available to your organization, and what you want to achieve. Next, focus on building APIs that are unique to your organization. There’s no need for a cookie-cutter approach that just recreates things that won’t differentiate your organization. Instead, create a developer experience using the proper tooling, and define metrics that matter to your organization. These metrics may include, but are not limited to the following:
- The number of APIs needed to improve efficiency and reduce duplication
- How the API impacts revenue
- How quickly it takes a developer to get to a successful 200 HTTP status code (the code that indicates a successful response to an API request)
- The stickiness of platform
ICE Mortgage Technology Solutions:
To help our customers get the most out of their own API strategies and Encompass technology, we have implemented a Developer First initiative, which blends an API-first strategy with the developer experience. The goal of this initiative is to streamline and guide operational processes to make our technology more efficient, and allow our customers to innovate and own their user experience.
- The Developer First initiative focuses on:
- How we build APIs and how we evolve our own integration tools
- Transforming the developer experience
- Helping our customers find solutions quicker and more efficiently
- Helping our customers avoid repetition
Another solution we offer to customers is the hands-on experience provided by the ICE Mortgage Technology Professional Services Organization (PSO) Solutions Development Team. This team was purpose-built for organizations that are short on internal development resources, and need help building custom applications and extending Encompass to meet their needs. Working with this team effectively connects an organization’s technology investment with our expertise in order to optimize that investment and maximize ROI. This collaborative professional services team can work with a customer’s implementation, engineering, and/or product teams.
The PSO Solutions Development team extends Encompass beyond the LOS by building integrations and utilities that can move data and documents from a customer’s Encompass instance to other 3rd party instances, including:
- Core system applications – which can help families retain their residency
- Third party integrations – which can eliminate the need for extensive manual data entry into disparate systems
- Third party document and data repositories – which can automate document extraction from Encompass
This team has also created a solution utility platform that puts the power of managing utilities into the hands of an Encompass system admin by way of an easy-to-use interface. This platform enables customers to use, add to, and troubleshoot utilities with ease.
The ICE solution utility platform is:
- Simple – presents an easy to use experience, with configurable capabilities
- Scalable – scales with growth, using a modern technology stack
- Repeatable – has modular capabilities to add more utilities and support multiple applications
So, is your organization ready to adopt an API-centric culture? It all starts with Encompass Developer Connect™.