by Tony Harris
• April 20, 2021
An API is a piece of middleware technology that helps programs talk to each other and improves business workflows. Previous schools of thought categorized APIs as a tool to be kept within the business however recent innovations with APIs show the technology is capable of doing so much more. Thanks to API innovations and evangelists, we’re now on the verge of a new API golden age where businesses rise and fall by the strength of their integrations. APIs are more than middleware. They are products and can be managed as such.
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APIs bridge the communication gaps of previously incompatible technology. As new tech products hit the market, with varied file formats and programming languages, the consumer will need a way to link these functionalities together. The answer is to build a composable enterprise with the functionalities you want to deliver. And an API ecosystem makes this possible by connecting the applications and microservices together.
Shifting the view of APIs from back-end technology to front-end product led to new tech capabilities that weren’t possible or available before. Companies from startups to enterprises that view APIs as products look for more ways to maximize their value. Products can be marketed to new customers. Products can be improved upon. Products can be used again to create new and better product offerings.
To this end, companies are creating or outsourcing a new role: the API product manager.
API products can add new functionalities to your existing tech. Consider authentication. You could implement something like this yourself, or you could use the public API of another program to handle it for you. Many web apps are using third parties to authenticate users on their behalf, allowing users to log in using their existing social media. This benefits the company by allowing them to deploy a new feature faster with less strain on internal developers. It’s also more convenient for the user, who won’t need to create and maintain a new account to use the app.
Consider the many rideshare services in your area. Private citizens can become taxi drivers on a whim because the service makes use of the Google Maps API. Without access to API providers, companies like Uber and Lyft would have to create the GPS technology themselves. This would mean more time and money sunk into the project if it got off the ground at all.
Here are some more examples of how APIs add value to modern technology today. The productization and monetization of APIs in today’s technology made all of these possible.
As businesses in all fields shift to adopt a tech-first business model, many found ways to monetize their API offerings. Salesforce reports that half of its income now comes from its API. Companies such as eBay and Expedia bring in even more. Successful APIs also allow companies to pursue entirely new business models. Amazon went from an e-commerce giant to a web hosting giant by marketing Amazon Web Services (AWS). Now the company is known for both.
Companies that look at APIs with a product mindset need a storefront to promote their product and customers to sell it to. In the context of open APIs, the AI developer portal is your storefront and developers become your customers. Businesses will need to keep the developer experience in mind during the API design process, just as traditional businesses must consider the customer experience.
And just as commerce creates a relationship between the business and the customer, the developer community will help improve your business value. Monitoring use cases and metrics like real-time traffic, engagement, and API usage by development teams will uncover new opportunities for integration and innovation.
DreamFactory is a SaaS solution offering full life-cycle API management. We can help you build your API from scratch or instantly convert your existing SOAP web service into a REST API. You can build your first API without a single line of code, using only your existing database and technology. From there, you’ve taken the first step to putting a new product on the market and opening your business to new revenue. The API experts at DreamFactory can guide you through each step of the API product management process.
What would you do with an API for your business?
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