Knowing that you want to leverage API’s as part of your digital transformation strategy is all well and good, but throughout our years of expertise in API integration and development, we have seen customers make mistakes that can be easily avoided.
Today, API’s (Application Programming Interfaces) are used for integration, service presentation platforms, innovation and connectivity, and are helping businesses add value to their core business functions, both internally and externally. API’s are also being used to create partnerships and cooperative communities as it is underpinning the move towards standardisation, such as through Open Banking and other global standards. Plus, combined with the scalable process power of the cloud, the rise of the Internet of Things and machine learning, the use of API’s is only limited by your imagination.
To take advantage of API’s and see them successfully drive your digital transformation roadmap, like anything, there needs to be a game plan in place. In this case, an API strategy.
Having a well-constructed API strategy in place can be essential in reducing complexity, and cost, further down the track. It will enable you to:
· Accelerate understanding
· Bring confidence to your investments
· Fuel agility
· Avoid tendencies towards complexity and drift
· Communicate the necessary change across the business
Here are five requirements that are necessary for your API strategy to help future-proof your digital transformation plan.
1. Begin with focusing internally
While API’s can be used to connect with external partners and customers, it needs to start from inside the business first. By developing API’s internally, you’ll be able to reduce the limitations of any existing legacy systems, streamline internal operations, and ultimately transform the way you deliver digital products, services, and business capabilities to customers.
2. Identify your target audience
After looking internally, it’s time to look outward and to properly identify who your target audience will be so that you develop your API strategy based on their needs. It’s important to think about API’s as more like a product or an asset, rather than code so that users have certain expectations of maintenance and lifecycle. Being able to deliver an effective API will give existing and potential customers new reasons to connect with your business – and to safely make previous internal knowledge and data publicly accessible through APIs. It’ll not only reinforce the value of the ecosystem but create the opportunity to innovate on new products and channels.
3. Design API’s for reuse
This needs to happen from the very start to make them available to third-party partners and citizen developer ecosystems via an application network. Those that follow this approach can maximize business value not just from customer engagement and growth, but also from increased productivity and greater agility via self-serve IT. When implemented effectively, reusable API’s can take much of the burden of transformation away from the IT department.
4. Have security baked in from the start
No technology is infallible to a cyberattack, and every new digital technology comes with risk – and API’s are no different. Organisations that attempt to develop an in-house solution are virtually guaranteed of inviting hackers in through a backdoor. For this reason, it is critical you test your security practices and technologies for potential issues constantly, even enlisting your ecosystem for help to uncover any potential bugs lurking in the dark. Given the potential any attack can have on your brand, API security is not something that should be taken lightly or thought about after the fact.
5. Create a single source of truth
Applications are the heart of any digital transformation project, and their value is easily diminished when they run in silos. This can hinder a company’s ability to drive a digital transformation effectively. Organisations need to find a way to bring together applications, data and management across the business into one place. Part of that process may involve building teams made up of API evangelists, a developer portal that has the resources developers need to use the API’s, training programs and creating a partnership with the wider community.
Establishing a universal API management solution also enables developers to consume API’s through a single catalogue. This management solution acts as the ecosystem’s one-stop shop single source of truth – regardless of which platform the API’s are developed on. A universal API management solution would also allow your ecosystem to adopt quickly and incorporate these external API’s promptly and efficiently into their business processes.
If your organisation requires some external guidance and support to design your API strategy, please contact IntegrationWorks. We can review your current API and integration architecture for optimisation and performance health. Sign up here.