There is No API Strategy

Adam DuVander
Aug. 13 2012, 12:00AM EDT

With apologies to the many people I know with some version of it in their title, API Strategy is dead. Long live API strategy, inseparably linked to business strategy. Perhaps a better way to put it is that API strategy has grown up. But it's the opposite of when humans reach maturity and move out of their parents house. In this case, API strategy is moving in, because it's all part of the same household now. When looking at API growth, it's common for us and others to look at the history of the web for guidance. In the mid-nineties, people were still asking if they needed a website. By 2000, it was clear that every business needed at least one website and probably specific sites for each product. Fast forward to today and hopefully no board rooms are asking "what's our web strategy?" That's because the web has matured to the point where it is inseparable from business strategy. The same is happening with APIs, but we're just too early in that process to see it. Once there are one million APIs, perhaps it will be clear in retrospect.

Of course every company will have an API, the same way every company has a website. The question shouldn't be "what's our API strategy?" Companies should be looking at how their existing (or evolving) business strategy can be further distributed via API. APIs are no longer technical nice-to-haves. The New API is Apps, Partners and Income. Your business is baked into your API.

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

Comments

Comments(2)

As someone with API Strategy in their title I couldn't agree with you more that a company’s API Strategy is now an integral part of their overall business strategy and core to achieving growth in today’s constantly evolving world. However, in order to validate my title and also give another perspective I do think that API Strategy, while evolved, is still very much alive.

One of the first things we do when we begin working with new companies is get a strong understanding of their core business goals in order to properly align their platform strategy. To have a successful API program, whether open or private, its key to understand what data you should expose, who will consume it and how that maps back to your original business goals and what the actionable KPIs are based on that analysis. Exposing product listings but no commerce API will increase brand awareness but may not drive revenue growth and a company should understand what the most important goals are for them before building their API.

Another area where API strategy needs to be fully understood before integrating it into the overall business strategy is when companies who are still in the very early stages of building their internal business cases. While for those of us in the space it seems like a no brainer that much like your website of the 90’s you need an API, it can be a daunting world for those who are still working on their “mobile strategy”. Building an API program requires resources and unless you are fortunate enough to work at a company where money is no issue, you must build a clear and concise internal business plan for investing in APIs. Luckily, now there are so many success stories, clear monetization paths, significant distribution channel growth that building that internal business plan, with a little help from an expert or two, is easier than a couple years ago.

All in all APIs are becoming a defacto part of business, thanks Adam for spreading the word.

I think that small businesses have noticed that they needed a website sometime around 2005 or 2006 - and this is when the boom started to happen. 2000 was not very good for the industry (NASDAQ crash...)

By the way, about APIs, I think they'll soon face the same problem that Android has, which is fragmentation (well I don't see it as a problem for Android, but it's definitely one for APIs)