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API Strategy 102: The Business Value of APIs

APIs are not just created to meet a technical requirements and API publishing is not merely a technical challenge. Every API is published with specific business aims in mind and API program managers must ensure these aims drive the interface design process. This lesson provides an overview of key drivers behind API programs and how these impact API architecture.

Exposing an API can add value to a business in a number of ways. For managers of API programs, it is vital to ensure that interface architects understand what value the organization is hoping to gain from its API program before getting caught up in technical details. An organization’s business goals should form the primary driver behind its API design process.

Broadly speaking, any organization that is launching an API program will be aiming to achieve one or more of the following business goals:

1. Increasing Revenue Often an API can be a direct source of revenue. This may involve charging developers for access to the API, facilitating the in-house creation of pay-to-play applications or enabling ecommerce. A key consideration here is that the API must offer something worth paying for.

2. Extending Customer Reach & Value APIs provide the ideal solution for enterprises that wish to reach new customers or increase the value of current customers by offering existing services via new platforms and devices. In these instances, it is vital to consider technical requirements for these new delivery channels.

3. Supporting Sales & Marketing Activities APIs can also help a company to market its products and services, without necessarily becoming involved in how these offerings are delivered. Such an API should enable the creation of the kind of engaging, immersive functionality associated with online marketing best practices.

4. Stimulating Business & Technical Innovation APIs can help an organization develop new systems, offerings and strategies from the inside because they reduce technical barriers to innovation. Specifically, APIs empower organizations to generate and implement ideas without requiring them to change their backend systems.

5. Easing Integration of Backend Data & Applications APIs also play a key integration role in a variety of internal IT projects that impact core business goals. In these projects, it is vital to consider the business event or need driving the integration. For example, the integration may result from a merger or from a new regulatory requirement.

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