Written by: Sarah Elkins, Director of Marketing, Layer 7
Layer 7 Technologies, a Canadian company headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., is a company that is growing—fast. Named to the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 for the second year running in 2012, Layer 7 experienced its fourth year of profitability, had 500 per cent growth and doubled its employee headcount across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
The growth has been driven largely by the explosion of the app economy, a phenomenon that a Canadian technology group found is employing more than 51,000 Canadians. The proliferation of apps has revolutionized how Canadians are making purchasing decisions, interacting with brands and completing tasks in the workplace.
Layer 7, as a leading provider of security and connectivity tools for enterprises, has seen the demand for its products skyrocket, as businesses seek to compete in this new app economy.
The challenges and opportunities of an app economy
Increased adoption of smart devices is allowing people everywhere to access apps (and subsequently data) anywhere and at anytime, driving two trends for enterprises. First, these companies need to provide their data for consumer apps, so that they can tap into new market channels. Second, enterprises are grappling with figuring out how to provide their employees with enterprise apps that allow them to use their smart devices at work.
For both trends, enterprises often use application programming interfaces (APIs), which allows applications to access their data and re-use application functionality, but the challenge then arises as to how they can expose this data in a secure way that is still easy for developers to access. This is where Layer 7 steps in, providing API management tools that allow enterprises to securely expose their APIs to both internal and external developers and manage who is accessing their data.
With the explosion of consumer apps, the way in which Canadians make purchases, complete bookings and review services is dramatically changing. Consumers no longer need to walk into a retail store to make a purchase, or into a rental office to hire a car – they just need to look on their mobile device. Just like having a website was new and necessary to survive 15 years ago, having an API and catering to app developers is now essential for businesses to survive today.
Many organizations look to well-known companies like Twitter, and question whether having an API program will work for them. A popular tactic for clients of Layer 7 is to selectively expose APIs to approved developers, both inside and outside the enterprise. This allows organizations and API program managers to exercise greater control over the types of apps that are being developed, and ensure they align with the organizational and marketing objectives of the company. The apps themselves become new marketing channels that allow users to easily discover new and existing services that are highly relevant to them.
Organizations are also starting to realize that with the growth of smart devices and applications, employees are bringing their devices to work, increasing demand for access to internal systems through these devices. This poses obvious data security concerns that many organizations are turning to Layer 7 to help with. By providing API Gateways that allow organizations to implement fine-grained security policies, Layer 7 is helping businesses provide employees with secure productivity apps that allow them to complete their jobs more efficiently. Field staff can access apps on tablets and enter data directly into the organization’s database, reducing processing time and inaccuracies. Employees can access real-time data on their mobile phones allowing them to make faster and better decisions. And when an employee leaves their company, IT departments are able to restrict access to data and ensure employees are unable to access private information.
The way companies do business has changed fundamentally with the growth of the app economy. Layer 7 is helping companies manage both the challenges and opportunities, to stay competitive and secure.