Business leaders increasingly understand the potential of APIs but still too few understand the need for API management. An yet API management is a necessity in today’s digital economy.
APIs expose data for use by apps and the developers that create them. They make enterprise assets reachable by apps, and they’re the tool that enterprises use to add a digital layer to their interactions with customers, employees, and partners.
Security, developer portals, analytics and monetization are but some of the key reasons why you need a robust API management tool to participate in the digital economy. Read “The Definitive Guide to API Management” for a comprehensive discourse on this topic.
Security is paramount for companies when they expose their backend systems via APIs. The first reason why any company would consider API management is to secure their APIs. This is not just about authenticating and authorizing access to APIs, it is also about policies to block attacks, ensure sensitive data is not accidentally or intentionally leaked and to revoke compromised an API that was granted to a user.
API management should also provide logs and audit trails to support both offline analysis and real-time troubleshooting. Another important capability is API quotas and spike arrest so that traffic to backend systems is properly throttled and managed. For example, the very public hacks against the popular Snapchat mobile app’s API is an example of what can go wrong if your API is not secured. For example, the use of rate limiting would have thwarted at least one of the hacks that hit Snapchat.
Developer experience is key to adoption and success of your APIs. Your company’s APIs are useless if nobody use them. To enable rapid adoption of your APIs, you need a portal to put all of your APIs in one place for easy discovery and testing. The best portals provide a complete self-service experience, where developers can select the APIs and service levels they need, get secured access, monitor their API usage and even monetize and participate in revenue sharing with the API provider.
Another very important feature of the portal is a feedback mechanism, such as customer-support blogs, forums and community-contributed content. One example of a company that gets the importance of developer experience is MapQuest, a digital mapping company.
“Our sole purpose in life is to create great APIs”, according to Brian McMahon, General Manager at Mapquest. (You can read more about MapQuest’s API journey.)
Now that you have provisioned your APIs, you need to have visibility on your APIs. How is your API traffic trending over time? Who are your top developers? Are you attracting more developers?
Where do you see most API traffic? Robust API management tools answer questions like these. They provide dashboards and reports that can be used by both business and operations to gain a 360-degree view of their digital business. Ticketmaster – one of the largest ticket sales and distribution company is the world – uses API analytics to gain visibility into their API program in order to stay innovate and foster partnerships.
“Data is the new currency” is an oft-repeated phrase in the digital economy. There are many successful examples of how this works today. Take the Google Maps API, which starts at $10K annually and generates further revenue from ads linked to map searches Your company’s digital assets provide real value to your customers and partners, but in the pre-API world, you had to spend months in drawing out legal contracts and complex integration coding.
API monetization enables you to charge for usage, revenue-share with partners and track billing in real-time.
About the Authors
Chee Keong Law is the Director, Channel and Alliances, APJ at Apigee. Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Apigee is a corporate member of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Members contribute their expertise and insights to Which-50 for the benefit of our senior executive audience. Membership fees apply.