I’m a keen runner. So anytime I hear a story about how running companies are applying technology to what they do, I get excited.

ASICS is a well known global athletic footwear and apparel company that has over 60 years experience in creating shoes and clothing. But as we all know, every industry is ripe for digital disruption and it is no longer sufficient to simply make a great product, all organizations need to reframe what they do through the lens of digital – be it digital product creation, digital customer engagement, digital branding initiative or whatever.

So ASICS, knowing that they needed a good infusion of digital savvy, last year acquired Runkeeper, a mobile fitness application. Runkeeper hasn’t got quite the cachet that every athletes’ favorite Strava does, but ASICS wasn’t really buying a user base as much as it was a team with digital savvy. And so, a year on, what has the Runkeeper purchase created in terms of broader digital thinking within ASICS?

Consumer connection – the obvious target

ASICS Global Digital, the division charged with executing on ASICS digital opportunity, is focused on building solutions to help better connect the ASICS brand with consumers. The division is responsible for the continued development of Runkeeper and other consumer-centric mobile apps, e-commerce platforms, and many other mobile and digital experiences. ASICS Global Digital is based in Boston and led by Dan Smith, who joined ASICS group via its acquisition of Runkeeper.

Bringing together all the different strands

With so many different consumer-facing offerings (not to mention legacy enterprise and back office systems), ASICS had to get its hands around the not insignificant integration challenges it faces. To this ended it leveraged integration vendor MuleSoft to provide an integration platform to enable the flexible tying together of various solutions.

MuleSoft was an early leader in the so-called IPaaS (integration platform as a service) space. Alongside other vendors such as Boomi, JitterBit, and SnapLogic, their raison d’être was to make it easier for organizations to API-enable their various application and, by extension, to tie them together as and when required.

Since then, MuleSoft has broadened its approach. The company’s Anypoint Platform connect applications, data, and devices and covers the original IPaaS, an enterprise service bus, and a broad API management platform. As I prognosticated almost four years ago, this broadening sees several different product areas, but all peripherally related to similar drivers, come together under a single vendor’s offering.

Leveraging MuleSoft for specific projects.

Since implementing MuleSoft a few months ago, ASICS has completed its first project on the platform. In this case, it was a migration task that saw ASICS European and other divisions move to a new e-commerce platform built on top of Salesforce. The new platform leverages MuleSoft to give consumers insights in real-time into inventory levels, pricing and order status.

Next up is a more chunky project which will also involve Salesforce. In this case, ASICS is going to roll out Salesforce’s Commerce Cloud across all its different brands (including ASICS, Runkeeper, and Haglofs). Interestingly, and in a validation of the IPaaS approach, by exposing existing IT assets through APIs, ASICS is creating an application network where systems can be used and reused to rapidly compose new applications. The Haglofs’ transition to Salesforce Commerce Cloud is expected to be delivered even more quickly as a result of the API-led approach used in the ASICS Europe B.V. project. ASICS will be able to reuse the core building blocks produced in the first project, such as APIs for order status, inventory, and pricing. For example, the “ASICS Email API,” which was created in the first project to streamline communications to customers about order shipments and changes in product inventory, will be reused dozens of times as the e-commerce platform is rolled out globally.

And the impacts are not insignificant. Reports Phil Connaughton, director of engineering at Runkeeper:

By leveraging MuleSoft, we have saved months of development time and enabled our system to be highly versatile. With the agility provided by Anypoint Platform, we expect to complete our e-commerce platform migration in roughly half the time we had projected, allowing our customers to get access to new features, such as enhanced promotions, even more quickly.”

MyPOV

As I said previously, Runkeeper as an app wasn’t as successful as some of its competitors, but that’s not the point here. The acquisition by ASICS was all about DNA and that seems to be very much a success. Seeing the Runkeeper DNA used across the organization, and seeing the adoption of digital-enabling platforms such as MuleSoft is a good indication that ASICS is well-positioned to make the move to digital. It’s a nice win for MuleSoft, obviously, but an even better one for ASICS themselves.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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