Driving digital business with API management

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API management Forrester reportIn today’s increasingly interconnected world, application program interfaces, or APIs, are becoming the digital reflection of an organization.

Like many prior technological shifts, the API economy — the commercial exchange of business functions and capabilities and data using APIs — is going to create winners and losers.

Look at what happened to Blockbuster, which over 10 years ago had 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees. Now Blockbuster is a distant memory, relegated to the shadows by Netflix, which is responsible for 15 percent of all internet traffic and whose internal API handles 2 billion requests per day. Not embracing digital technologies facilitated by data and APIs is no longer a viable option.

Recently, Forrester listed IBM as a leader in the Forrester Wave: API Management Solutions, Q4 2018 report. This comes on the heels of an IDC report that identified IBM as the undisputed market leader in API management.

Understanding API use cases

When it comes to API strategies, one size does not fit all. The types of APIs that companies create should align with their business goals.

Organizations should start with the business goals and the user experience first, then reverse engineer their API strategies based on that assessment. four major categories of APIs: internal, B2B, open web and product APIs.

  1. Internal APIs
    These APIs are used exclusively within an organization or company. A number of companies have internal API programs that help them become more efficient in areas such as product development, HR and customer service.
  2. Open web APIs
    These APIs are primarily available externally to consumers. An open API provider is usually seeking to leverage the ever-growing community of external developers. This will help the organization to stimulate the development of innovative apps that add value to its core business, without investing directly in development efforts.
  3. Product APIs
    These types of APIs are about opening products and services to direct control and configuration by developers.
  4. B2B APIs
    These APIs are specifically designed to give partners access to business functions in relation to the business relationship of the partnership.

The topic of B2B APIs deserves some special attention. In its report, Forrester calls out the potential behind B2B APIs: “the reference customers we spoke with for this Forrester Wave evaluation provide B2B APIs nearly 70 percent more often than open web APIs.”

In addition, according to the IBM Institute for Business Value, “Companies are turning to APIs to help build these bridges to other organizations and unlock each partner’s unique data and capabilities.” B2B APIs are a tremendous opportunity and growth area for the future.

The role of API management

As organizations embark on embracing APIs as part of their business strategy, they inevitably come across common technical patterns and requirements that must be addressed. The right tooling and platform are required to handle these diverse requirements.

Tooling is required to manage the entire lifecycle of an API as a product, similar to how product managers manage other products. This includes API creation and definition, creating and enforcing service-level agreements (SLAs) and policies around usage, enforcing security, handling billing and monetization, and managing the interaction and collaboration between API providers and API consumers. An API management solution is central to executing an organizational API strategy and fulfilling all of these requirements.

What to look for in an API management solution

API management chart

An API management solution must address the requirements of the API lifecycle.

The right API management solution should address a wide variety of business scenarios and requirements. It must be flexible and align to a company’s overall business goals. The IBM API management platform, API Connect, is a scalable, multicloud API management platform, built from the ground up based on microservice architecture.

Again, IBM is ranked as a leader by Forrester in API Management in 2018. Specifically, Forrester evaluated 15 API management solution providers against 26 criteria and IBM was named a leader and received the highest score in current offering and among the top two scores in the strategy categories. Read the full report.

To understand more about the IBM point of view on the API Economy, visit the IBM API Economy website. Learn more about IBM API Connect and experience a trial version.

If you have questions, please let me know. Connect with me on Twitter at @funnelsavvy to continue the discussion.

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