Businesses accumulate data, create content, or possess unique business logic—each of which represents an untapped business opportunity. But how can organizations realize that opportunity?
Today’s app economy is transforming the business landscape. It creates an environment for exponential success for those who know how to harness the power of their data, content, and / or logic to derive revenue. Open, scalable, and managed Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the key ingredient for that to happen.
When organizations open their APIs to third-party developers, they expose themselves to unlimited opportunities to derive new revenue, reach new audiences, and realize greater innovation.
Much of this opportunity is driven by the explosion of consumer mobile devices. Each time an app on your smartphone “calls home,” it calls an API. But open APIs also extend beyond the mobile realm. Enterprise dashboards that incorporate and visualize syndicated content from various external sources also draw on open APIs. The cloud, and its infinite ability to scale and process data at unprecedented speed and efficiency has also compelled organizations to expose more data and applications via APIs.
Big data is another significant driver. As the volume of shareable data increases—particularly data which is of interest to the public (weather updates, news alerts, public transportation information, etc.)—value creation opportunities increase too.
Organizations are reaping the benefits of opening up their APIs. Media organizations such as The New York Times, BBC or PBS are reaching new audiences by exposing their content via APIs. Retailers such as Amazon increase their revenue by allowing developers to embed their API into other apps, providing users an integrated shopping experience on their preferred platform. Organizations may even serve the greater good by exposing data and logic from seismic sensor analysis, alerting citizens when an earthquake is about to occur (a project we are currently working on).
Prepare for Risk
Open APIs, however, come with inherent risk. Opening back-end information to the public can create a security and management headache. How can you be certain you are sharing the right data with the right people? How do you make certain that apps built on your APIs ensure a good experience? You can’t simply open up your data pool through your API and hope for the best, you need to manage it.
What is API Management?
Securing and managing the API-enabled enterprise is a complex yet valuable process that leverages legacy and new data in ways never possible before. API management involves developing a set of rules to determine who has access to what data. It provides methods for ensuring that your data is protected from abuse and overuse and delivers unprecedented insights into how that data is being used. All while making certain that the needs of those you expose the data too—developers, applications, and users—are being met.
API management is particularly pertinent to organizations that host their APIs in the cloud as it provides better insights into how your APIs are being used and performing. The cloud is not a key requisite for effective API management, provided the API that resides on-premise is exposed via a secure channel to the API management platform.
But the technology benefits of API management are just part of the equation. Whether your goal is revenue generation, tighter integration with external entities, proliferating your brand, or extending your research capabilities, without API management, you are missing a significant business opportunity and go-to-market channel of strategic importance. Organizations that have fully embraced open APIs and API management have benefited greatly. And, as more data and content is accumulated, the potential increases even further.