APIs – the current “big thing” – offer the opportunity for modern organizations to unlock new and lucrative business models. The article below covers some tips on how to spin the API flywheel and leverage its possibilities.
In the API economy, a successful service can gain popularity and be utilized in ways unpredicted and often inconceivable by its original owners. The very flexible nature of the technology opens many doors, including business collaborations, reuse in third-party products or even conquering hardware barriers by reaching a spectrum of devices.
What to consider
Taking the builder’s perspective
Important note: Most of the time API consumers are not the end-users but rather the app developers. Any new venture ought to be supported with excellent learning resources and descriptive documentation. These things combined will ensure a top-notch developer experience and encourage adoption of your product, increasing its visibility in the market.
More than the revenue
While in the simplest scenario, the most popular API business model is revenue via service charges, there are several other goals:
- Growth – APIs are finely-grained and, usually, short-term projects that bring lots of value. Decoupling sectors of your business and encapsulating them in the form of concise, dedicated APIs enable teams to work in parallel, encouraging company growth.
- Reach – By building APIs for wide use, the organization can extend its group of recipients and open new opportunities to cooperate with other players in the market and discover new collaborations.
- Compliance – Products and services implemented as an API ecosystem can freely exchange data between one another, whether they are internal or external.
- Insight – The rate of use of APIs will surely give an idea of what consumers value the most. Also, implementing APIs alone helps to clarify what pieces of your business are crucial. This helps to revise implementation details and encourages reflection of your current technological solutions.
Today’s rapid growth of available APIs in the market underlines the importance of research and prototyping to effectively expose its place in the market. Developers should engage with colleagues and collaborators to ascertain feedback or brainstorm with them to reshape original concepts for greater quality. This process will fuel the relentless iterations of re-prototyping, before jumping into costly development cycles. The more critiques you collect from external experts, the greater the discovery, or desirability – and potential success – of the API.
Work with what you got
But where do you start? Revenue can be easily gained from already-owned assets, with little effort. In this scenario, you can review your current business model, extract the most valuable and serviceable asset and then make it public via an API. An example would be a payment API, used by third-party online sellers that can offer deals with customized discounts or expanding the variety of goods, thus reaching a wider range of customers.
Assembling your Toolbox
Projects tend to be resource-thirsty with time-heavy (aren’t they all?). Using the right tools that can accelerate the development process – and at a small cost – can determine the feasibility of your next project.
I have chosen three platforms that provide a solid foundation for your next APIs.
For me this is the most versatile tool for dealing with APIs. The philosophy behind Linx encompasses two concepts: “Don’t reinvent the wheel” and “Design once, run non-stop”. Linx is low-code which allows you to create, call REST and SOAP web services, freely integrating them with nearly any of your existing technologies using built-in plugins. Plugins are ready-to-use “building blocks”, from text manipulation, through email queuing to cloud services.
Learn more about Linx here.
DreamFactory is a genie for creating RESTful secure services time-effectively. The platform enables aggregating disparate data sources through a single API response. It’s an interesting option for those struggling with modernizing legacy applications. What I appreciated during my DreamFactory experience was the fact that endpoints are secure by default.
Learn more about DreamFactory here.
Besides the platform, DreamFactory offers a neat free API cost calculator. Try the calculator here.
Apigee is an online platform for building and managing online services with a proficient developer ecosystem covering analytical tools, proxy wizard creators, server-side script stubs, documentation generator. It’s a worthwhile choice when transitioning from SOAP to REST. Apigee surprised me with a website generator that offers simple and customizable portal templates based on bare HTML and CSS.
Learn more about Apigee here.
Delivering a commercial API can be a lucrative strategy in your business. But the process is far from easy and requires relentless scrutiny in research, top-notch development, time and money. A good API smoothly snaps into software solutions like a building block filling up a missing piece of logic or data.
What was your biggest pain during delivering an API in your company? Share your experience in comments below.