APIs are here to stay and have become ubiquitous across all industry verticals. Enterprises would like to rapidly adopt APIs within their business and IT, but often find the need for a well defined holistic adoption approach and guidance to be successful. 
Many organizations have started to embrace new techniques to discover and define the opportunities that APIs can deliver for their organization. One of the common mechanisms is the Business Model Canvas, this is a powerful mechanism to describe, design and challenge your business model. The focus of the model is on defining the business model, however when given to the technical team to deliver could have an incorrect focus for the team for designing the solution. 
Therefore we have created the API Adoption Canvas that complements a Business Model Canvas, and provides a bridge between the Business and IT domains. The focus is to put the Business requirements within a context that a technical deliverable team will be able to consume. 
The objective of this canvas is also to list out and capture all key aspects of API adoption with a lean approach  to make it actionable and used as a blueprint for moving from ideation to successfully adoption of APIs. 
The Canvas is separated into 7 core aspects and two options:

1. Strategy & Objectives for APIs: This is the core glue between the Business Canvas and the API Adoption Canvas. Based on the output from the Business Canvas the strategy and objectives should be defined and can stream through all other aspects. This should capture key objectives both short and long term and include important milestones.
2. Key Activities: Start to define the high level activities that need to be completed to enable API adoption. These may be as coarse grain such as: 
  • Infrastructure required to support the API Platform
  • Installation and configuration¬†
  • Skills required for API Platform

3. Key Resources / Dependencies: what are the IT, people and financial resources and dependencies required to make the project a success such as:

  • Sponsor users
  • Line of Business dependencies
  • IT Resources¬†

4. Key Roles & Partners: within an API Project many roles exist, such as:

  • API Developer
  • App Developer
  • API Deployer
  • API Product Owner
  • System of Record owners
  • Operations Team (monitoring API availability)
  • Infrastructure Team (building the API Platform and planning for the required capacity)

It is important to identify these roles early on and map them to who within the organization, partner community will fulfill these roles for your project. Different API projects within the same organization may have different answers to the above questions.

5. Early Adopters / Customer Segments: who will be the first users of these APIs, will they initially be internal and partners, and then over time grow to include the public. 

6. API Products/Descriptions: discover and define the APIs or types of APIs, that will be built to realize the strategy. While defining these, the team should consider the short, medium and long term nature, and attempt to flesh out the short term APIs in most detail. Identify business and consumer requirements for the API and then identify potential back end systems that can fulfill this requirement.

7. Socializing APIs: depending on the overall API strategy, an API may be exposed to internal, partner or public developer communities. Each of these commonly have a different mechanism for consumption, for instance an internal API may be available to everyone within the organization that registers, however the public developers need to pay for access. 

There are two more optional aspects for API adoption which are important when APIs are exposed for external consumers as a new revenue stream for the business. 

8. Cost Structures:  where the business objective is to define a API driven revenue channel, the cost of implementing API infrastructure and exposing APIs needs to be ascertained. This is required to define and measure the business success. For reference, a study by Forrester Consulting on the Total Economic Impact of APIs enabled by IBM API Connect can found here. 

9. Revenue Streams & Pricing model:  APIs can be Monetized to create a new revenue stream. APIs can be viewed as products that require a pricing model to be defined based on the business resource that are exposed and the value of those resources. There are many possible Monetization business models including direct payment for usage, paying someone to use your API as well as Indirect models. You can find more information on API Monetization models here. 

Each of the above aspects leads into a technical aspects of the design or plan that will be completed in more detail. This API Adoption canvas can be used to quickly list out all the key aspects for a successful path for APIs. After this initial completion of the canvas, each aspect listed can evolve into a comprehensive list for short, medium and long term API strategy.  
As enterprises race against time and competition with speed becoming one of the main priorities and competitive advantage for digital businesses, we hope the API Adoption Canvas will provide a lean and fast path towards adopting APIs successfully. 

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