Your API program: What happens in a minute?

With an effective API management platform, you can connect data, apps, devices—all the “things” you need to speed innovation with APIs and microservices.

Brenton House Brenton House

Sixty seconds may not seem like a lot of time, but  it is enough time for a lot to happen:

–UPS will deliver 11,319 packages
–Apple will make a little over $70k dollars
–Over $3 million dollars will be donated to charities around the world.

Even more can happen in a digital minute. In fact, according to the 2021 results compiled by Domo, a lot DOES happen in a digital minute.

For instance, in the next 60 seconds:

  • People will watch 694,000 hours of videos on YouTube and 67.0 million videos on TikTok
  • Twitter users will post 575,000 tweets and Slack users will send 148,000 messages
  • Google will conduct 5.7 million searches
  • Six million people will shop online.
  • The list goes on and on but there is one thing in common: All these services (and more!) are powered by APIs.

Why APIs?

Whether or not you are creating your own APIs you are in some way consuming and using APIs. Everything runs on APIs. APIs enable the digital ecosystem.

So instead of asking Why APIs? a better question might be “why API management and governance?”

API management and governance are crucial to the API economy and the strategy and priories of businesses and enterprises around the world. In a world without API Governance, there would be:

  • No central governance over design and development
  • No full lifecycle API management
  • No API policy enforcement
  • No monetization of APIs

Now API monetization is not just referring to APIs that you sell or license. This is also talking about using APIs to leverage the business value of your other digital and physical products and services. It could also be controlling access or rate limiting APIs to be more secure or to protect resources from expensive traffic hits.

No visibility over API usage

How are APIs being used? There are many challenges for API reuse; this goes for public, internal APIs, partner and third-party APIs.

The latest API integration & microservices trends

You’ll need to establish what APIs you have, including third party APIs. Also, who is accessing these? And what version is being used? The same goes for updates – will APIs that are being reused be updated or patched when original is updated?

What do you think this would look like with an API digital ecosystem that is properly managed?

  • Portfolio consolidation of existing and overlapping services
  • Rapid integration API catalog with existing technology
  • Visibility to enable governing and managing full API lifecycle and API reuse
  • Scalable and flexible integration of new microservices components
  • Mitigating risks by enabling future modernization through APIs.

To do this you have to have a solid plan that includes these important goals:

Creating an API-led integration strategy

APIs and Integrations are at the heart of digital transformation and an API-led integration strategy can ensure that you are equipped to succeed. A clear API strategy will allow you to transform your data and processes into digital capabilities that add value to your organization.

Securing Executive Backing

One of the key concepts behind a successful API strategy is having executive backing. Identifying who all the stakeholders will be (both internal and external) is an important first step. It is important for everyone to realize their role, from executives, management, IT, Marketing, and Accounting… everyone is a player in this game. Everyone needs to be invited to take ownership of the adoption, use of, and support of the API program and its role in the digital transformation journey of your organization.

With stakeholders identified, executive backing and participation can remove a lot of possible friction points that might exist when making changes in an organization to support the adoption of an API program and strategy.

This is a critical step.

An API program and strategy needs to be executive driven. Without good leadership and sufficient resources, API programs can become weak and fail.

Defining the goals of your API program

What are the goals and objectives of your API program? What do you see being accomplished through the successful implementation of your API strategy?

Some common outcomes and goals that organizations might target include:

  • Securely managing access to data for customers, partners, and employees.
  • Open more opportunities for integrations with and from third parties.
  • Remove friction by making data more accessible through self-service channels.
  • Increase revenue by leveraging APIs and integrations with other products and services.
  • Empowering customers and employees through digital workflows that were not available before

Identifying Target Audiences

It does not matter if this is a public, a partner, or an internal API. It is important to be able to identify who the target audiences and users of your API program are going to be. In fact, according to a recent developer survey75% of developers reported working on internal APIs.

The target audience for a particular API program might be employees but it is important to remember that they are still your end-users and ultimately, the success or failure of your API program is going to have a lot to do with them. Don’t take for granted that employees are going to love your internal API just because they work for your organization. Make the API developer experience a priority with a great documentation and API developer portal.

Once you have identified your target audience, work with small groups of early adopters across your community. Find your API champions and leverage their desire and passion to use your APIs and adopt the API program to your advantage. Get feedback early and often throughout the program on many areas including:

  • The design and user experience
  • The terminology used in the APIs and documentation
  • Opportunities for improvement

Listen and be responsive to the concerns of your user base and let them know they have a voice. This will do wonders for the future adoption of your API Program and give the users a sense of ownership that you can leverage to organically grow your program.

Managing your APIs as products

If your API is a product:

  • It will be designed with the customer in mind
  • It will be marketed to target customers
  • It will have a great user experience
  • You will make sure it works to build trust
  • It will have great support community.

Aligning organization around digital strategy and experience

As mentioned earlier, the participation and support of executives can make a dramatic difference in the success of any digital strategy. There are often many adjustments that will need to be made to teams, resources, products, and marketing, to align around changes to the entire digital experience and an API-centric product focus.

Executive stakeholders must be actively supportive of the teams the necessary financial and resource investments for the duration of the journey.

Some of the things that can be done to make the adoption of an API program smoother are to:

  • Clearly articulate the vision and across organization
  • Be transparent with any necessary changes that are planned
  • Focus on organizational value gained by a successfully implemented program
  • Make sure everyone understands the value that they bring to the program
  • Encourage innovation and capture new ideas that can benefit adoption.

It will probably be necessary to organizationally align teams by service. Some of the new roles you might see in the organization include

  • API Product Manager
  • API Developers/Architects
  • API Security Specialists

Securing your APIs

The importance of API security and cybersecurity goes far beyond your APIs themselves. As your API program grows, you will want to be sure that you have a comprehensive security strategy in-place. Your cybersecurity strategy should not be static but will live and grow with your organization, your APIs, and your digital strategy.

API security starts with your API gateway, making sure that it is properly configured and that you are taking advantage of all the security features in the product. You will also want to make sure your API gateway can easily integrate with any other security products and applications you have in place with your API management system.

Treat every API like it is a public API. Even if there are no plans to make it a public API, the security measures that you put in place need to be solid and secure in order to protect your applications and APIs.

This will help to build trust with your employees and end-users while providing security and privacy for them AND their data.