API as a Business Strategy

In my last post, I have tried to give you a glimpse of the trends that are influencing the use of APIs. New realms of businesses have begun to embrace APIs. It is a popular belief that this profound shift will continue and that is the impetus behind APIs as a business strategy. End users use a large number of different connected device types, social networks and various forms of messaging to access the information services they need.

APIs can be thought of as the “backend” of an application, enabling the application to reach into a company’s data or services. APIs are essential to enabling a rich application ecosystem that extends customer reach. APIs make it relatively easy for companies to scale up dozens or hundreds of implementations in a relatively short period of time. Some of these scenarios were difficult to support at first, but they are getting much easier, because practices for successfully using APIs are emerging along with the supporting technology.

Market conditions have changed in ways that make APIs relevant to any business with assets that others would like to use. Statistics show that the world’s largest companies and hottest start-ups have now got more than half of their traffic through APIs. And this also allows small businesses to join in and make the most of it.

As a business owner, you may have a multitude of reasons to advocate the use of APIs

  • You Need a Second Mobile App
    • If your mobile app strategy is a success, you will need apps that run on iOS and Android And then it might need to run on Windows Phone.
  • Your Customers or Partners Ask for an API
    • Sometimes sophisticated customers or partners ask if you have an API to help make a technical integration easier.
  • Your Site Is Getting Screen-Scraped
    • If your site is getting screen-scraped, this could be considered a sort of passive-aggressive request for a public API. You obviously have business assets that developers would like to access. Offering an API lets you exert control over your data and the terms of its use. The best way to determine your next steps is to talk to the people doing the screen scraping to see what they are trying to do.
  • You Need More Flexibility in Providing Content
    • For a variety of reasons, neither websites nor RSS feeds are enough to handle the flexibility most companies need these days. APIs can provide the ultimate level of flexibility for providing content when and how you want to, under your terms and with better control, while meeting your users’ needs.
  • You Have Data to Make Available
    • It is quite common for companies or government organizations to have treasure troves of data that they have no time to make use of. Data distribution is an important API function for content providers.
  • Your Competition Has an API
    • When one company in an industry publishes a public API, it is quite common for the rest of the industry to follow suit. In a way, this is a more general case of a customer requesting an API from a particular company
  • You Want to Let Potential Partners Test the Waters
    • When a potential partner wants to do business with a company, the company can steer them to an API that allows the partnership to get started. By adjusting the terms of the API properly, it is possible to let potential partners start experimenting with the API and converting to a more formal partnership when the partnership starts to generate enough mutually beneficial revenue or traffic. An API removes barriers to experimentation.
  • You Want to Scale Integration with Customers and Partners
    • Having an API provides a simpler and more flexible way to integrate with high-volume customers and partners. Customers who have their choice of vendors are attracted to companies that are set up to succeed quickly. An API sends the message that you are in such a position.
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