“For us, digital transformation is a necessity, just given the way our business has changed,” says Abhi Ingle, AT&T’s vice president of ecosystem and innovation.
It’s a succinct way of describing the challenges and the opportunities facing the telecommunications industry. During I ♥ APIs 2013, we were lucky enough to have a conversation about this with Ingle, who also discusses how APIs are a critical part of how this giant company “speeds things up.”
AT&T does this by exposing systems through APIs, which has shortened the time to get an app up and running by 25 percent to 30 percent. APIs also enables “reusing things that have been created as opposed to rewriting the same piece of code over and over again,” Ingle says. This has boosted productivity by as much as 25 percent, he adds.
Getting to this point, however, has brought its share of challenges.
"It's really hard to take a purpose-built network, a purpose-built infrastructure, and an orientation where all the finished products came from you, and break it up into these horizontal layers that can be broken up and offered to developers," Ingle says.
With Apigee, AT&T has found a partner that can grow with the telco, as well as one that can work with the many different business units within AT&T, each of which has a very different mandate, Ingle says. That partnership has helped AT&T get to the point where "we have teams that are actually competing with each other to say, 'we have APIfied more of our business than you have'."