The ABC of a successful API strategy

by | May 5, 2014

The ABC of a successful API strategy

Hi there. Because you are reading this blogpost chances are that you know about the fascinating possibilities a successful API strategy provides to attract new customers, cherish existing ones, increase operational efficiency and boost innovation.

But how do you start and what are the key considerations to take into account? A question many decision makers in public as well as private organizations repeatedly ask themselves.

The basics of a successful API strategy are rooted in the answers to the following questions:

1. What are your business objectives?

2. Who is the end-user of your API?

3. What is the value you want to provide?

4. Who are the relevant stakeholders in your API strategy and how will all of them benefit?

These questions provide the building blocks for your businesses API Value Chain: the starting point of successful API strategy development and execution. As depicted the API Value Chain consists out of a set of stakeholders and assets (resource or benefit). For a successful deployment of your API program it’s critical to consider the intricacies revolving around each stakeholder and asset in the API Value Chain. In this blog post we provide a checklist of questions to build the API Value Chain for your organization.

API Value Chain

1. Asset Owner, Public or Private

The asset owner can be a private business organization or a public entity such as a municipality or a museum. Key issues for the asset owner to consider at this point are:

  • What business assets are going to be provided through the API?
  • Of what potential value can these assets be to others?
  • How is the asset owner going to benefit?
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2. Business assets

Business assets is what the Asset Owner makes available through its API. It can range from a product catalog, to geospatial maps, to twitter posts, to public transportation or airplane status information. Key questions to consider here are:

• Do the assets I am exposing through the API have value to the end users I want to reach?
• How am I going to benefit by exposing these business assets through an API?

3. API provider

Most of the time the API provider is the same as the Asset Owner, but not always. For the purpose of clarity we therefore consider it as a separate stakeholder. Key questions to consider for the API provider are:

• How to design the API so that the intended audiences can make the best use of it?
• How will the API be published?
• How will the API be promoted?

4. API

Key to a solid design of an API are security and governance related issues in addition to other design principles. Important questions to consider in this regard are for instance:

• How should potential users authenticate in order to interact with the API?
• Of the information that is exposed what file permissions should be available to users?

5. The Developer

The main issue here revolves around your ability to comprehend what’s important for developers and how you will deliver that. The important thing is not what you have created (your API) but what you enable developers to create! Questions you could think of are:

• How will developers benefit?
• What types of apps will the API support?

6. Applications

Developers create applications. Questions that need to be answered in this regard are for instance:

• What types of apps will the API support?
• What features and functions will these apps have?

7. The end-user

In the end it’s all about providing value to your end-user. The most important question to answer is therefore:

• How will the end-user benefit from the business assets you provide through your API and applications?

8. Added Value (increased revenue, retention, referral or something else)

Here the loop is closed. As stated before a key consideration for the asset owner from the outset is: how am I going to benefit from exposing my business assets? Is it increased revenue, retention, referral or something else?

The API Value Chain provides a blueprint for the conceptualization and further deployment of your API strategy. To improve the chances of a successful API program you should get all the key stakeholders involved from the outset.

Complex technological projects are complex because they are not only technologically complex. They are complex in part because of the number and variety of stakeholders involved. All of them having different interests, objectives and perceptions of what the right approach of API deployment might be. Managing such complex projects can therefore be quite a challenge.

A tested method to successfully cope with this issue is to develop your API strategy in consultation with the relevant stakeholders. Get other departments within your organization, developers, API providers and end-users involved. Great partnerships are the barometer of a successful API program.

Need help with your API strategy? Sieuwert is your guy!

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