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What is an API Strategy and an API first Approach?

The “API Economy” driven by APIs in the digital ecosystem enables digital transformation and business agility. A sound API strategy can foster innovation and collaboration and help provide exceptional customer service. APIs and SDKs can alter a dynamic business environment with speed and precision. In this article, we will discuss API strategy and why your organization needs it.

What is an API Strategy and an API first Approach?

An API or application programming interface allows systems to communicate and share data. It is an intrinsic part of a software development kit (SDK) with API tools and information for working with data.

APIs can expedite the speed of business operations and raise software development quality and data integration. Several industries have been driving enormous revenues since a strong API strategy enables enterprises to create integration tools. It helps integrate with partners, scale internal operations, and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) and maintenance costs.

API has been benefiting businesses of all shapes and sizes. 85% of business owners consider web APIs and API integration important for their business strategy and continued success.

API-First Approach

In the past few years, the ‘API first’ concept has been gaining traction across software teams. In this approach, APIs are treated as ‘first-class citizens’ in a development project. APIs break down the software capabilities into individual and autonomous services i.e., microservices.

Microservices-based applications ensure a good user experience (UX) on all devices. With an API-first strategy, organizations can build APIs serving all applications developed and maintained for all devices, platforms, and operating systems.

Organizations should apply an API-first approach to their development efforts along with a standard set of tools to facilitate them.

Why is an API Strategy Needed for Your Business?

An API strategy can capture market share, increase customer engagement, and communicate with stakeholders. A potential API strategy drives business growth, supports existing value chains, and creates new ones.

Here are some reasons why you must have an API strategy for your business:

1. Innovation

API economy depends on continuous innovation. Therefore, it is a must to build your IT architecture with an API and integrate it into your core business operations for this environment. An API helps an organization to break down data silos, avoid vendor ‘lock-in’ and gain a 360-degree customer view by aggregating data from several touchpoints.

2. Third-party connect

An API helps your organization to communicate with third parties who are partners, providers, or customers effectively. The customer experience with it increases company performance. Third parties also offer new data sources, and API can enable the management and organization of these sources, as it works on the management systems and data processes.

3. Reducing Security Issues

APIs reduce security problems during the development processes, as developers need to categorize the business applications and processes and reinforce sensitive internal systems with an API.

4. Building Reusable Software

APIs combine software as a service and mobile apps with traditional B2B protocols and standards. API allows developers to build reusable services from the B2B partner inputs on a single platform.

5. Creating Better Customer Experiences

Today customers are always looking for a personal and customized experience from a brand, and do not think twice about going somewhere else if they do not get what they intended.

6. Application Modernization

Organizations that have heavily invested in legacy applications can design API middlewares around legacy applications with low risk and high-value returns contrary to the replacement strategy, which can be a daunting task associated with high risk and high costs.

How Do You Implement an API Strategy?

Understanding the full-API lifecycle is a must for deploying a secure API strategy organization-wide. Here are some of the elements to consider for creating an effective API strategy for your business:

Brainstorming:

Identify the key services and capabilities such as customer experiences and objectives your business offers and determine the APIs to be built and services to be offered with them. After figuring out the use cases, note the potential endpoints and the API execution plan that will help to achieve it.

Organization and Culture Alignment:

Ensure everyone in the organization understands the importance of API. Involve them in the planning of outcomes to be achieved.

Technology Evaluation and Deployment:

Determine the technology, the governance, security initiatives, the testing, or the practices you will need for digital ecosystem enablement.

Ecosystem Engagement:

APIs have an ecosystem of users around them. Determine the strategy to engage the ecosystem. A better approach is to treat the API as a real product.

Stakeholder Determination:

Make sure that you involve as many team members in your API initiative. Ask stakeholder opinion on the API design consistency.

API Contract Designing:

The API contract sets standards and practices for API design. Document the APIs and allow them to work the same, from endpoints to error codes.

API Governance:

API governance enforces established standards and desired outcomes. Peer code reviews also ensure that API design standards are followed and a quality code is developed.

Process Automation:

Use tools for automating processes such as API document generation, style validation, and API mocking. Make APIs self-serviceable to make the developers build apps with APIs.

API Management:

Track and manage your API portfolio to avoid code duplication and building redundant APIs.

Portal Creation:

Manage your internal developers centrally for API specification and documentation, inventory, dashboard, and more.

How an API Strategy Can Benefit Your Business

An effective API strategy is critical for digital transformation. APIs are designed for specific audiences and are documented in such a way that users can expect them for their maintenance and lifecycle. APIs are the integration methods in the cloud-native distributed development environment and offers many benefits for organization heads as below:

Accelerated Development:

APIs simplify otherwise complex connections, making it easier for developers to react fast to changing needs, and ultimately accelerating the development cycle with cloud adoption.

Software Reuse:

API designs can be reused for scalability and to expedite the development process. The software reuse in the integration capabilities results in lower costs and offers agility to control technical debt.

Automation:

APIs support automation by streamlining communication between applications and services, eliminate manual processes, and apply security controls.

Managing Traffic:

APIs standardize and control the data flow with an API Gateway so the systems do not get overloaded for a good customer experience.

B2B Collaboration:

APIs serve as a simple interface between applications inside and outside the network which do not communicate and support partnerships to facilitate third-party collaboration.

Digital Monetization:

With API monetization, businesses can create revenue from their application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs can serve for the next iteration of business development and can establish and maintain relationships in a digital economy.

Takeaways:

In this article, we have discussed API strategy and why it is needed by an organization, and how it can ultimately benefit you. Gartner’s information innovation research shows that business success depends on how well a business leverages big data, cloud computing, IoT, machine data, and other external data sources. Thus, businesses need to use APIs to stay competitive.

An API allows greater innovation and collaboration in an organization. iVedha can help you successfully achieve this. Get in touch with us to know more.