Challenges and Benefits of Having an API Strategy for Your Company
Over the years, Application Program Interfaces or API have become crucial tools for all kinds of businesses. The easiest way to understand its importance is that it allows multiple users to access a single computer program from multiple nodes. APIs even allow different programs in communicating with each other.
Companies that have integrated APIs grew quicker than ever. APIs have the long-searched answer for the companies that are spending billions trying to integrate disparate systems. While we can all agree that APIs have high potential to transform business processes into many efficient systems, its not all roses.
With great benefits, come great challenges. If you are up for the challenges, big things await you. Let’s have a look at what APIs bring on the table.
Challenges of Having an API Strategy
Let’s talk about the challenges first. It will help us in giving you a clear picture of things you might have to deal with.
Where to Start?
APIs are super flexible. This is quite challenging in a way when you have so many options available, it becomes quite confusing. The question, “where to start”, might often come to your mind and, we can guarantee you that it’s a valid one.
However, remember that there is always someplace to start. Avoid experimenting with stuff you are not sure about as it can result in a lot of wasted time and effort.
The best way is to prioritize your API development according to your business strategy, modernization impact and your business’s ability to execute. A great example would be a bank that developed an API that digitized a crucial customer journey. Then, it built APIs that helped in simplifying the architecture, avoiding the failure consequences , and driving efficiencies.
Another great way is to look at your customer journeys. Approach your company as a customer and think about the things you would like to be streamlined. This will greatly help you in building APIs for your company that would join the distinct IT systems, resulting in end-to-end, seamless customer experience.
Who Should be on an API team?
Like any other crucial team in a company, an API team needs a dedicated supple operating model to work efficiently. It is also very important to look at API building as an ongoing project that needs to be improved and worked on continuously based on feedback from the customers. The approach of treating APIs as a one-time project can take away big things.
Get two things right and your company’s API building strategy is good to go:
- Team with the appropriate skills
- An agile organization structure that caters to the company’s business needs
Here is a list of people you need in your API team so it can build the best API products for your business:
- Product Owner: More like quality control, he will ensure that only high-value APIs are built.
- API Architect: He will make sure that the APIs built follow all the technical standards. Also, they are developed using the best practices. Another important task for this person would be ensuring that what is built lies in alignment with IT’s architectural vision.
- Scrum Masters: They will make sure that teams work on test-and-learn, iterative execution models to develop and maintain APIs.
Which Technology Tools are best to Build APIs?
As already mentioned, an abundance of API technologies can lead you to bad decisions. These decisions result in poor performance and wasted resources. You need to make two major decisions that can help in narrowing down your options.
First of all, choose the right app-development platform/framework for developing APIs. Team up with the fellow business leaders in listing the appropriate API use cases, according to the technology ease (such as backend readiness).
Then, you need to develop data formats for APIs. The next step would be designing a flexible, modular and extensible API framework. This will help in avoiding unnecessary technology debt and technical layers.
IT leaders should also focus on making API guidance principles. This will help in educating the product owners about the benefits of a good API vs the drawbacks of a bad API. They should also offer tools and API directories so that API developers can adhere to the best possible practices. This way, reusing APIs will become easier.
The other important decision revolves around the API developer portal and the gateway. The API developer portal will serve as the basic platform for a business’s API progress. The gateway, on the other hand, is behind housing all the APIs, capturing the transaction analytics and data catching.
A very important step is to decide who will manage and run the gateway. This team will also be responsible for making rules for the gateway. Some businesses use a centralized approach for the API platform. This can useful in a way that only one team will be responsible for the API gateway. However, it can also turn into a bottleneck.
A better approach is to implement a cloud-based API developer portal and gateway so that separate API units can be responsible for separate sets of APIs. It will also help the developers in accessing all the APIs through a single platform.
Benefits of Having an API Strategy
The benefits of integrating APIs are massive: make life easier, stable, secure, automate IT process and provide a better user experience. APIs greatly help companies in generating extra income by improving their products and services.
APIs have helped companies to grow in an easy, fast and scalable way. How? Because APIs allow companies to take advantage of service, algorithms, functionalities, and data developed by other businesses. This too, without having to pay a penny for the development. This creates a better user experience and, additional value to the customers.
An excellent example of this economy would be Uber. Its basic business model is to take advantage of third-party data via integrated APIs. These API integrations allow the app to find the geographical distance between the Uber and the customer, his location and the best possible route, etc. They also help in notifying the customer when the car arrives. If all of this were to be created by a single company, Uber probably wouldn’t exist.
In case you are a B2B SaaS App provider who works in the eCommerce industry, then integration with shopping platforms is a vital part of your business.
However, developing API integration with shopping platforms is quite challenging. The better solution is to use a ready-made integration solution such as API2Cart. Via only one unified API you will be able to connect to 40+ eCommerce platforms at once.
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Author Bio: Shawn Mack is a content writer who offers ghostwriting, copy-writing, and blogging services. His educational background in business and technical field has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. He is also fond of writing interesting blogs on technology & digital marketing related topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Coast App.