Sticky notes about APIs and organizational agility

Customer expectations are always changing. Businesses must learn to adapt or be left behind. The idea of business agility can be intimidating, but the right API can help you keep pace and adjust to changing business models. But to use one effectively, it may be beneficial to first understand what is meant by organizational agility and how APIs can enable your business to be more responsive to changing market conditions and embrace more streamlined ways of working.

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What Does It Mean To Be Agile?

The Agile Manifesto popped up in 2001 and disrupted how how many businesses thought about software development. The focus on constant collaboration and responding to change contradicted previous methodologies that relied on strict plans and silos. Previous approaches to software development were often rigid and exacting, like computers. Agile methodology added a human element back into software development, and it’s an approach that persists with various branches today.

If your business isn’t in information technology, you can still apply some of the Agile development processes to your workflows. The four main tenets of the Agile manifesto are as follows:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

This way of thinking values making products that work, continuous delivery, and adapting to change. And it’s often the underlying philosophy behind digital transformation products regardless of industry. You may already be thinking about how to improve your user experience and add new functionality in this API economy. Changing your organizational structure can help with that, starting with a functioning API.

Where Do APIs Come In?

APIs can act as the go-between for various apps and microservices that wouldn’t be able to connect otherwise. Used as the foundation for the rest of your application stack, you can integrate all your programs and microservices together. Application development gets easier when you can unite your microservices architecture under one user interface. You can even use the API to modernize legacy systems and add a new layer of security with API gateway authentication. APIs are also instrumental in adding elements of automation to your legacy processes or making the Internet of Things (IoT) work for you.

But consider the new application architecture that you’re building. With an API at the center, you can connect and disconnect apps at will. There’s no fear of causing errors in application B because it was tied to microservice A and now microservice A is gone. Everything connects into the API instead of each other, and so removing and replacing services is a breeze. The result is a modular approach to technology commonly called the composable enterprise. It also makes updating legacy systems or adding new services less complicated, leaving you free to adjust your ecosystem at will. 

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Use Case: Facebook

Facebook’s API is keeping the social media network relevant in the age of Snapchat and TikTok. Its users no longer content to share small details about their lives, Facebook pivoted into a feature-rich platform that’s always adding and changing features. Taking cues from other social networks, it added stories, job search, and live video features that are going strong. Features such as news, weather, and town hall work to position Facebook as an information hub.

But it’s the news tab that’s seen a lot of change in recent years. It was first introduced as a sidebar that showed you headlines that were trending at the moment. A behind-the-scenes change in that feature’s code temporarily brought it down as the sidebar was overrun with fake news. So the feature was pulled and changed significantly into its current incarnation as a separate tab.

This example of agility was made possible with Facebook’s API-centric construction. Features can be added or removed at will without breaking the site as a whole. Temporarily pulling the plug on Facebook news had little to no impact on the remaining site functions. Whilst this is one of the more well known examples of how APIs contribute to organizational agility, it is likely that there are many of examples of APIs facilitating this increased flexibility within your business.

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About DreamFactory

DreamFactory is a full-service SaaS platform that helps with API management at all stages of the API life cycle. We can help you create an API, convert and update existing web services, or maintain your existing APIs. There is a library of resources made available by our API experts. DreamFactory’s no-code platform is the perfect starting point if your considering how APIs might contribute to enhancing better organizational agility within your business or team.

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