Innovation Starts With Open API

Mar 9, 2017 | by Natalia Tsymbalenko

The future is here. No, we don’t have flying cars or robot butlers – yet – but it’s definitely a digital world. From what’s in our pockets to where we live, we’re surrounded by data-driven apps, smart objects, and the Internet of Things (IoT). As a businessperson, it’s important to understand what sits at the middle of it all – and the impact it has on your business.

It’s digital data delivery. Open API.

First, let’s take a quick step back. An Application Program Interface (API) is a set of rules, routines and protocols for building applications. And you likely already have this in place internally to manage client/customer data. Open API allows you to share your data and API with the world, but still maintain control and security through API Management.

Think of how many GPS apps are powered by Google, the number of package and flight-tracking apps driven by airline and UPS/FedEx data, or even how Siri and Alexa seem to get smarter every day. It’s all because of Open API.

The opportunities are endless – digital data that organizations have is a potential of crowdsource innovation. To unlock open innovation, an organization should open their APIs to their potential market of developers who will use the data, commingle with other data sources to build what wouldn’t be possible inside the company.

So, now that your eyes are wide, and you’re excited about all this potential innovation –where do you start? When it comes to API Management, there is no shortage of choices. But bigger isn’t always better. And going with the cheapest option can expose you to costly functionality or security issues down the road.

So, start with what you have to offer through your APIs and what you have to gain. Then utilize best practices and a proof-of-concept (POC) to mitigate integration risks before refining your actual API strategy. Finally, you can start plotting your Open API roadmap.

Even without knowing all your detailed technical requirements, experimenting with a proof-of-concept (POC) will help you find the best API Management platform that deliver on your strategy and meet your needs.

Take a wide view of your organizational needs and capabilities, as well as your business drivers and internal expertise. These will help you to narrow your focus as you compare your choices. As you go through POC, you’ll become more and more familiar with the business and technical requirements of API products, which will then refine your envisioned best API Management fit.

Once you know what you want, and you’ve narrowed your choices, you need a plan for comparing them to each other. The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Full Life Cycle API Management is always a good place to start – but can be costly. By reaching out directly to the API Management leaders you’re considering, you may get them to absorb the cost of the report, and get a free reprint as part of their sales pitch. Another, unconventional approach is crowdsourcing – letting the market itself reveal the leaders based on “real-world” feedback.

Either way, take an unbiased approach to comparing your choices – every solution will have its pros and cons. So, it’s not always about finding the perfect solution, just the best fit for your business needs. Then, sit back and let your data drive innovation – you may even end up contributing information for that first flying car.