In recent times, as I have been hearing about and, reading a lot on API related articles including topics such as application programming interfaces (APIs) economy, API-First, API-driven development etc, I got extremely fascinated with this API thing. This is where I decided to put my findings around when, why and how to go for API adoption and whether it would be fruitful for business to go for APIs from strategy perspective. Interestingly enough, I found some connection between API thing, and the central theme of the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. This is where I thought to use key themes from the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad to present my thoughts in relation with API development. For those who have not come across this book, the book, authored by Robert Kiyosaki, advocates financial independence and building wealth through investing, real estate investing, starting and owning businesses, as well as increasing one’s financial intelligence. Please excuse me if I did not do the justice to the topic or the book. However, the idea behind this blog is to create different perspective to understand APIs in an easier manner. Feel free to share your comment.
Lets try and understand what is API economy?
API economy, in brief, is about creation of new software applications, partnerships and business opportunities by making use of Partner APIs exposed by the parent business. An API is a specification for how two pieces of software talk to each other and exchange data. By exposing data and business services using partner APIs, business wants to extend their business services offerings to larger market space and create newer opportunities on the basis of innovative customer and partner applications. Thus, API can also be called as one of the many “channels” in addition to existing channels such as web, mobile etc.
Should a business consider taking risks exposing their business service offerings and their data through APIs to their customer and partners?
Now that we have seen the facebbok and twitter APIs and what they did to their business in terms of innovations and tremedous growth in last few years, it would certainly be worth considering exposing the business services offerings and data through APIs to customers and partners. It could certainly payoff in terms of new innovative services that customers and partners developers could create and hence, give boost to overall business growth by bringing new users (end customers) to the business. That said, there are risks involved in exposing services/data through APIs, primarily in terms of security threats, ability of business to perform and scale etc. In addition to risks, there are investments involved as well in terms of educating developers on creating APIs, aligning releases, creating appropriate policies, procuring appropriate frameworks and tools etc. Businesses should consider adopting API route only after having done thorough due diligence on some ofthe aspects mentioned earlier and, putting appropriate hooks in place. But, to summarize, one must definitely consider exposing the services and data through APIs as it could end up creating channels for passive income (as per Rich Dad, Poor Dad, see figure below) thereby paying higher dividend. It goes with one of the central themes of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which emphasize upon building wealth by having people & money working hard for you to generate income for your business and you end up getting financial freedom. I think this hold so true for likes of facebook and twitters of the world where developers are innovating with their APIs to create more opportunities for themselves and in turn, facebook and twitters of the world.
When is the right time to go for starting on publishing partner APIs?
Well, as many business experts say, no time is a bad time to start. however, it may be good idea to check on few key things before planning to expose APIs. Following are some of those key aspects:
- What is long term strategy, and what are we trying to achieve in terms of business growth (revenue, new clients/customers engagaments etc)
- What are those business services and data that could be exposed as API?
- Do I have right technologies (tools & frameworks) in place for exposing APIs?
- Are applications across various different line of businesses (LOBs) ready for exposing service and data offerings as a unified APIs?
- Are appropriate security hooks in place, thought through?
Again, this goes with one of another theme of the book which talks about nuances of starting your own business and what does it take?
What all does one need to be successful in API economy?
Following are some of the key things required for becoming successful with APIs in terms of business growth:
- Well thought through business objectives
- Buy-in from senior management and appropriate sponsorship as it requires a significant investment in terms of time, effort and money.
- Right set of technologies in place
- Well thought out security strategy in place
- Internal buy-ins from key stakeholders of different LOBs including managers, architects, developers and testers