APIs deserve a little more attention than they're getting. Of course, for developers and API providers this doesn't apply, but it's business colleagues and the rest of the team involved that may not be grasping the full extent of what the API can mean for a company. At this year's APIcon in London, Andrew Seward, technical product manager at global SMS service Esendex, talked about changing the way companies think about APIs, putting them at the forefront of business and viewing them as products that anyone in the extended team would be able to sell.
In his address, Seward explained that an API is not just a mysterious "thing" that does some complicated stuff in the background, and even though it isn't something you can touch or feel, it is, in fact, a product: It has features, quirks, instructions, things that are great about it, things that aren't so great, customer journeys and so on. By thinking about an API as a product, you can begin to think about and clearly outline things like target audience, marketing strategy, development plans, support processes and sales strategy. At the end of the day, users just want something that solves their problem and gets the job done. By understanding this and viewing the API as its own product, companies can begin to create sales strategies that are relevant and appeal to more potential users.
Above: Slide deck from the presentation
Seward went on to discuss things that could be implemented to begin changing the way a company views its APIs. Things like the way you talk about it. Talk about what you can do with it and why, instead of just rattling off a long list of technical details. Talk about why it is good, showing the results of using the API and highlighting great features. Bottom line, it's about how customers can benefit from it and how easy it is to use. He also discussed ways to get the entire team on board, and suggested providing API training for everyone and getting the team to understand that selling the API is good for the customers and, ultimately, great for business.
APIs are not limited to techies. There's a world of users out there who can benefit from this functionality. In order to get the message across more effectively, it's necessary to sell the benefits, identify the target market and tailor the pitch accordingly.