In the 1990’s when the World Wide Web (WWW) was relatively new many companies focused¬†their business toward creating a web presence. As Internet access became more readily¬†available, speed limitations lifted, and technology improved, many companies migrated from a¬†relatively flat and static web presence to a more dynamic, content rich and interactive¬†approach. Today we live in a data centric world of connected devices where we expect data to¬†be readily available at our fingertips. These devices include, but are not limited to, smart¬†phones, tablets, games consoles, and even cars and refrigerators. As the number of devices¬†has increased, so too has the complexity to manage and maintain the code for each of these¬†devices and this is where an “API First” approach has really gained the most traction. If the¬†data is exposed via a common API this allows a single point of maintenance, security,¬†versioning and control. In this way data can be exposed consistently across multiple devices.
Furthermore by exposing and socializing APIs companies can outsource application¬†development to third parties or business partners, which is becoming increasingly important¬†as the number of devices increase.
APIs can help companies expose data that they wish to make available to the¬†outside world or select business partners. These APIs can be used to create applications as¬†well as act as a powerful means to market a company’s product and to help carve out new¬†market opportunities. Once APIs are established they can be used to drive brand awareness¬†and increase profit. Most importantly the APIs, which are a now a core part of the business¬†also need to be treated as a product. Whether or not you or your company are considering¬†exposing APIs it is very likely one of your competitors are. In the highly competitive world we¬†live in today, this in itself is a significant reason to start considering an API strategy. With this¬†in mind it becomes important for you to start creating an API strategy as we predict that choosing not to will¬†have similar consequences to those who decided to ignore the WWW in the 90s.
The above figure shows¬†a fundamental shift from websites as being the information technology access¬†mechanism for the majority of businesses, to the rapidly growing ecosystem of¬†internconnected devices that require APIs to consume business function. Today,¬†we have applications in cars, appliances, smartphones, game consoles, and¬†other devices, that communicate with back-end business functions through APIs.
This ‚Äúinterconnected revolution‚ÄĚ is here today, as in the following examples:
- Refrigerators can tell their manufacturer services systems when maintenance¬†is required.
- Cars can do the same with routine maintenance notification.
- Smart electric meters can provide usage and consumption information to the¬†utility company.
All of this is possible through APIs.
To learn more please read the Redbook¬†here.