Businesses accumulate data, create content, or possess unique business logic—each of which represents an untapped business opportunity. But how can organizations realize that opportunity?
Today’s app economy is transforming the business landscape. It creates an environment for exponential success for those who know how to harness the power of their data, content, and / or logic to derive revenue. Open, scalable, and managed Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the key ingredient for that to happen.
When organizations open their APIs to third-party developers, they expose themselves to unlimited opportunities to derive new revenue, reach new audiences, and realize greater innovation.
Much of this opportunity is driven by the explosion of consumer mobile devices. Each time an app on your smartphone “calls home,” it calls an API. But open APIs also extend beyond the mobile realm. Enterprise dashboards that incorporate and visualize syndicated content from various external sources also draw on open APIs. The cloud, and its infinite ability to scale and process data at unprecedented speed and efficiency has also compelled organizations to expose more data and applications via APIs.
Big data is another significant driver. As the volume of shareable data increases—particularly data which is of interest to the public (weather updates, news alerts, public transportation information, etc.)—value creation opportunities increase too.
Organizations are reaping the benefits of opening up their APIs. Media organizations such as The New York Times, BBC or PBS are reaching new audiences by exposing their content via APIs. Retailers such as Amazon increase their revenue by allowing developers to embed their API into other apps, providing users an integrated shopping experience on their preferred platform. Organizations may even serve the greater good by exposing data and logic from seismic sensor analysis, alerting citizens when an earthquake is about to occur (a project we are currently working on).
Prepare for Risk
Open APIs, however, come with inherent risk. Opening back-end information to the public can create a security and management headache. How can you be certain you are sharing the right data with the right people? How do you make certain that apps built on your APIs ensure a good experience? You can’t simply open up your data pool through your API and hope for the best, you need to manage it.
What is API Management?
Securing and managing the API-enabled enterprise is a complex yet valuable process that leverages legacy and new data in ways never possible before. API management involves developing a set of rules to determine who has access to what data. It provides methods for ensuring that your data is protected from abuse and overuse and delivers unprecedented insights into how that data is being used. All while making certain that the needs of those you expose the data too—developers, applications, and users—are being met.
API management is particularly pertinent to organizations that host their APIs in the cloud as it provides better insights into how your APIs are being used and performing. The cloud is not a key requisite for effective API management, provided the API that resides on-premise is exposed via a secure channel to the API management platform.
But the technology benefits of API management are just part of the equation. Whether your goal is revenue generation, tighter integration with external entities, proliferating your brand, or extending your research capabilities, without API management, you are missing a significant business opportunity and go-to-market channel of strategic importance. Organizations that have fully embraced open APIs and API management have benefited greatly. And, as more data and content is accumulated, the potential increases even further.
Why You Should Integrate API Management Into Your Business Strategy
Aside from guaranteeing the security of your data and proper management of your API, here are three reasons why you should integrate API management into your business strategy:
1. More Time to Focus On Your Core Business
Your data is valuable, yet application development is not core to your business. But what if someone developed an app that uses your data, content, or logic at no cost to you? That is the beauty of today’s sharing economy. By opening (and properly managing) your APIs and sharing that data with external developers, your team will have more time to focus on its core business. Take the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for example. WMATA is in the business of delivering the best transportation services it can to its customers. By opening its API to third-party developers, new applications such as a WMATA app for the vision-impaired are now available – without the involvement of any WMATA development resources or tax payer dollars.
2. Increased Innovation, Adoption, and Revenue
Empowered by your API, the developer community can craft apps for your customers—potentially reaching or even creating new target audiences previously beyond your reach. Successfully managed, your API will deliver new market opportunities and wider service adoption. New revenue opportunities can also be realized as external developers monetize, save money, or leverage your API for altruistic good. Whenever your data enables a third-party to profit from it – you can charge for it.
3. Enhanced Developer Experience
To effectively manage your API and ensure that only relevant data is exposed to the developer community, an API health check and spring cleaning are required. Well-grouped APIs and clean, dynamic documentation boost efficiency in API usage and ensure a superior developer experience, thereby stimulating a wider adoption of your services.
There is a catch, however. Managing your API requires effort, commitment, and upfront investment. To open your API, you need to understand and manage its usability, its adoption, its shortcomings, etc. API management platforms can help you do this effectively.
Despite the clear benefits and successes, the public open API market is still somewhat stagnant. Challenges implementing API management platforms and internal struggles to make a business case for public API initiatives have led to slower adoption than could have been achieved. Given its potential, it’s a challenge that organizations should and can face head-on.
Profitable API management is achievable. However, you need a plan. What does it take to open your API and how do you make it profitable? We will discuss this in detail in part two and three of our API management series.
To learn how EastBanc Technologies’ API experts can help your organization thrive, contact:
Jill DaSilva | Director of Sales Operations | firstname.lastname@example.org | 202-295-3010