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How an API strategy delivered a step change for Avios

Avios are experts in customer loyalty, with 35 million people actively collecting points, and some 220k collected every single minute.

Given that scale, Avios wanted to be known as the definitive loyalty partner of choice. Key to this was to provide their third party client partners with API integrations that would allow them to onboard their own customers quickly and provide automated updates - with improved documentation to support implementation.

Realising the need for an external expert in APIs, Avios partnered with AND Digital to deliver a step change strategy that would deliver better loyalty APIs fast.

We began with an in-depth discovery phase to build an understanding of the current situation at Avios. The discovery included a number of activities, including:

  • Stakeholder interviews with a number of interviews across technical and non-technical teams, covering the current situation from a variety of business perspectives.

  • API best practice research to help Avios to solidify their technical vision, and made several recommendations, including:

    • Creating a sandbox environment with sample responses to promote a quicker understanding of their services.

    • Displaying APIs available with descriptions of each, to ensure uniform understanding of capabilities.

    • Providing a revision history to keep users informed of major changes.

  • An API maturity assessment, derived from best practices adopted from CA’s API Academy, Mulesoft publications and Apigee’s API solutions. This applied a scoring mechanism to define and prioritise a roadmap for improvement.

The discovery highlighted a number of problems with the current implementation, including the fact Avios had a file feed platform and a series of APIs running side-by-side. This caused several issues, including:

  • Slow integration - it took a minimum of three months for Avios’ developers to complete any API integration with file feed.

  • Missing key details - the API platform was not comprehensive enough, as the file feed solution had partner-specific customisations that the API capabilities did not support.

  • Complicated migration - migrating to the new APIs wasn’t straightforward and involved a high cost, resulting in all existing partners staying on the file feed.

Whilst a clear improvement, their APIs were not without challenges either:

  • Manual integration - gaining access to the APIs required a series of six manual steps, preventing self-sufficiency.

  • Outdated support information - the API portal was outdated, poorly organised and manual intervention was required to provide access to the API key.

  • Implementation friction - with no implementation consultant available to support partners, and only a 'small change' team available to make minor fixes to endpoints, the APIs did not present an easy or compelling service to partners.

  • A comprehensive, multi-year API strategy with a clear, step-by-step roadmap to close the gap between Avios’ current and desired future state.

  • A prioritised focus on the onboarding of a technical product owner and improving service documentation.

  • Clear establishment of API best practice, dynamic integration documentation and API portal development.

  • A prioritised backlog of action items across Avios’ tech stack to improve API platform, ensuring that in the future, tech solutions align to business goals.