5 reasons to talk about API to your CEO
APIs should be considered as a business topic

5 reasons to talk about API to your CEO

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Application Programming Interface (API) sounds a bit technical but they must be part of a regular discussion with your business leaders.

Application Programming Interface (API) sounds a bit technical but they must be part of a regular discussion with your business leaders.

I am currently working on APIs with my current customer and I have many times explained and worked on API with businesspeople. So, my first advice would be to start with a clear explanation of what is an API:

An application programming interface (API) is a computing interface which defines interactions between multiple software intermediaries. It defines the kinds of calls or requests that can be made, how to make them, the data formats that should be used, the conventions to follow, etc. [1]

Once, why should you talk about business APIs to your CEO?
Please find my 5 best reasons:

#1 APIs are changing business models and creating new partnerships

This Internet radio as built-in integration with Spotify, made possible using APIs

To me, Spotifiy [2] is a great example of a company using APIs as a major strength. From Shazam, now owned by Apple, you can go directly to Spotify to listen to the music you just heard. This is also true with hardware from SmartTV to Internet Radios who can easily connect to Spotify. Concretely, this means that Spotify can spread directly into other company’s products, increasing the growth of their customer base, which at the end is their ultimate goal as they are selling advertisement or subscriptions. The other way around, Roberts who is creating radios since 1932 is now able to do partnership with Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Prime Music and TIDAL streaming services. They also include Alexa for voice command.

Another example is how insurance companies are partnering with airlines or railway companies to insure your next trip. This is also possible and facilitated using API. And what is best than providing the insurance at the right moment of live, being the organization of a trip or the subscription of a loan with your bank. In that situation, you benefit from your partner’s customer base.

In a nutshell, APIs can allow your CEO to think about new business models and implement new partnerships the easy way, as the API signature will act as a clear boundary between the two parties.

#2 BizDevOps supposes that the business will help you to define the APIs

If you run your project the agile way, you should run a BizDevOps approach. Therefore, not only your business must participate to the definition of the APIs but ultimately, APIs will be considered as a product. When your API is a product of the company, the CEO is listening.

#3 APIs are dealing with business objects

It is as simple as this: an API is exposing some resources inside or outside the company. Your business must be part of the definition of those business objects: the name of the resources, the actions you can perform on them (that will usually be translate in the HTTP verbs GET, POST, PUT, PATCH, DELETE) and all the data related to those resources (which will become your input and output structures of your API).

Choosing the name of the resources in API is a key decision
Let’s imagine your business is about delivering packages in a network of shops. The first endpoint would be GET shops, which would expose to the partners a that list of the shops near a given address. Another endpoint would manage shipments. Should we name this second endpoint POST shipments? What would be the input and output attributes then? This is the kind of discussion that a squad could have with their business representatives.

To illustrate, those are some examples of shipping API:
DHL is providing the DHL Parcel API .
UPS is providing its UPS Developer Tookit.

#4 You can actually make money using APIs

It is difficult – if not impossible – to weight the economy that goes via APIs. But surely, it is increasing while digitalization of more sectors of the economy is going on.

Screenshot of Rapid API Marketplace, searching for a Weather API

API monetization is now becoming a strategic challenge. Several models are possible:

  • The API itself is free as the product is elsewhere. For Spotify, the product is to sell advertisement to listener or subscriptions. For DHL or UPS, the product is the service of shipping a package. This is also called indirect monetization.
  • Pay per-use: the consumers will only pay for the API requests they will make
  • Freemium: the consumers of the API can test the API free version but will pay for higher functionalities
  • Paid plan: API consumers must pay to access any API functionality.

Some API marketplaces allows you to publish, promote and sell your APIs. Check RapidAPI Marketplace as an example. RapidAPI is the world’s largest API Marketplace — used by over one million developers to discover and connect to thousands of APIs. 

#5 APIs fuels your Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is introducing new techniques that requires more and more interaction between software. This is the case for IoT, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), chatbots, assisted devices. Those technologies needs some APIs to trigger some actions as “they do not click on a web sites” or “they don’t make phone calls”…

Even if we usually don’t see them, APIs are becoming more and more important in our daily lives. Businesses of any kind should think about how APIs can bring new opportunities. Talk to your CEO!

Sources:
[1] API – Wikipedia
[2] Spotify API
[3] Roberts Revival iStream 3
[4] DHL Parcel API
[5] UPS Developer Tookit
[6] RapidAPI Marketplace

Photo credit:
Image by Sambeet D from Pixabay

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