Wall with writing referencing API ecosystem

Software development pushes forward new innovations and mashups every day. It’s not just competition between companies that drives this, but collaboration as well. APIs facilitate this sharing of capabilities by acting as middleware. Developers can connect apps that don’t normally work together, allowing for combined strengths and opportunities to close gaps in product capabilities. This is the basis for what’s called the “API ecosystem.”

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API Ecosystem Explained

While competition fueled innovation in the past, businesses of today have a different methodology. Jealously and guarding one’s trade secrets can stifle creativity and innovation. More consumers today have ideas for new directions to take technology—and an increasing share have the technological skills to make it happen.

API ecosystems include your business and API, along with all relevant stakeholders. This includes your customers, partners, software vendors and developers. To take advantage of the API ecosystem, you must include accessible APIs and API providers in your business model.

An API ecosystem strategy is one that welcomes collaboration over competition, innovation over silos. The tech world includes enterprises and small developers alike, and it would be a waste to not open up to their insight. This can also spare your business from the added time and expense required to do everything on your own.

Why You Need One

API ecosystems are typically mutually beneficial for all consumers. Consumers aren’t always customers—they include anyone who uses or consumes your API. They may be internal stakeholders, partners or third-party developers. This form of innovation is the key for businesses to not only stay afloat in a changing marketplace, but to stay ahead as well.

If you want to open up your business model to new innovations, consider building an API ecosystem. Are you using a SOAP web service? DreamFactory can bring your services into the modern age by converting it to a REST API. Start your free trial to learn how.

Building Your API Ecosystem

The steps to constructing your own API ecosystem are like any other digital transformation strategy. Start with an outside-in approach. Instead of trying to shoehorn new tech such as automation into legacy systems or building upon IoT technology, think about your business needs and how to accommodate them.

This isn’t something you can create on a whim and then be done with. This requires careful planning and consideration before implementation. You’ll also need to monitor your progress continually and look for ways to improve. This last step is critical because innovation and improvement are the end goals.

Here are some steps to building your own API ecosystem:

Begin With a Consumer-First Approach

Like with any digital transformation attempt, you must first consider what you want to do with this API ecosystem. And your end goal must keep the customer experience in mind. Putting the user experience above all else will help you design an API that caters to customer needs. You’ll want to have an open API with solid documentation.

This step will require a brainstorming session with business leaders and IT. You may find that there are gaps in your business capabilities and digital assets. This would be your opportunity to find partners capable of bridging those gaps.

Construct the API With Partners in Mind

It helps to look at the API as a product or service, rather than a business tool, when on this step. You should market your products and services, but guard your tools as if they are trade secrets. API product development also comes with experimentation and failure, both of which you can learn from.

When building your API strategy, keep in mind your partners’ capabilities and where they fit in with your final product.

Monitor and Correct Course

The last step of digital transformation is never truly the last. It never ends. After you deploy the finished API, you must encourage and monitor consumer engagement. Usage, traffic and other key metrics will tell you what’s working about your API in real-time and let you know where you can improve.

A developer portal is necessary for this step to connect with partners and gather feedback. You can also consider a hackathon to engage and gather feedback from third-party developers. When and if you find an area of improvement or innovation for your API program, accept it and keep building.

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About DreamFactory

DreamFactory is a full life-cycle API management solution. We can help you get the ball rolling on your API development needs by helping you build APIs in minutes. On our platform, you can take a guided tour of our process with test data or use your existing database to build your very first secure, full-featured, documented API. You can then build upon this API using the wealth of resources available on our website, including our active blog with new tips and concepts.

If you’re already using a SOAP web service in your business, we can help you upgrade that to a simpler, more flexible RESTful API. This conversion will give you an advantage when it comes to interacting with newer applications. But you may not need to build a new API to get started. We can also help you reuse existing APIs to add more functionality to your project or build a new one.

Ready to get started? Our solution will help you create a full-featured, secure and documented REST API in minutes. Contact us to start your 14-day trial period today.