By: Emily Canon, Head of API Products, PEXA
It’s an exciting time for digital businesses with the rise of the API economy providing an opportunity to connect and thrive in digital ecosystems, extending customer reach at scale.
Application Programming Interface – or APIs, in simplistic terms, allow different pieces of software or applications to communicate with one another. These applications use and exchange data sources with the purpose of enhancing productivity, enabling digital innovation, and driving revenue.
Forward focused digital firms want to participate in the API ecosystem economy. It’s a smart business decision, with one study showing that organisations with public APIs have significantly stronger growth than those that don’t. But it isn’t a case of simply building it and they will come.
Customers today want the convenience provided by APIs. They want to reduce double data entry when going between systems or apps, and they want to minimise the need to toggle around in multiple apps to complete a task. So, most customers would have interacted with an application using API without even knowing it. Apps like Uber, ApplePay, PayPal, and Alexa– all use some form of API as an interface with the consumer.
If your APIs allows customers to improve productivity, efficiently complete tasks, or conveniently access valuable data, this forms a compelling value proposition for your API and for potential ecosystem partners to use your API, which can in turn can provide monetisation opportunities.
Customer centricity is the key to ensuring that the APIs you build, make an impact and put you in the best position to succeed.
Ecosystem partners will only consume APIs where they see benefit or value. Aligned to this, APIs should undergo the same rigours as any other digital product, with product management a guiding framework to stay customer focused and ensure the APIs being built are wanted and needed by customers.
Cyber security considerations
As the Optus breach last year proves, APIs themselves need to be cyber secure.
The use of APIs has grown rapidly with many organisations choosing to use them because of their obvious benefits. But organisations need to exercise the right cyber security considerations such as:
- ensuring a proper security protocol,
- keeping an account of all available APIs,
- imposing a strict assignment of rights and permissions,
- ensuring authentication is used,
- validating the data inputs
- encryption and controlling the amount of data or information required.
Cyber security in general can be overwhelming for small to medium sized businesses. And with the increasing number of cyber-attacks, businesses may need to consider an external cyber consultant or provider to protect themselves.
Data driven business growth
APIs are rich in data that could help in understanding the consumer more – potentially uncovering additional revenue opportunities. Every interaction with the customer has the potential to provide valuable data that could help firms retain their clientele and help their employees better deliver their services.
Good data allows organisations to make better decisions – creating baselines, benchmarks and aiding in the setting of targets, providing an opportunity for growth. Data is one of the most valuable assets an organisation can have, that could impact its long-term success.
To become a modern-day, customer focused organisation, firms need to be in a position where they can leverage their technologies and gain visibility on their data.
Considering the demands for digitisation, automation, efficiency, productivity and data, APIs need to be a part of the roadmap for every organisation wanting to exist in the digital world.
As organisations continue to advance, the technology and capability on offer will continue to flourish. Forward thinking digital firms will have the ability to choose the right technology that will encourage adaptability to support the ever-changing needs of the business, flexibility that supports connection with products and platforms as well as the accessibility of data. APIs are now the new norm – firms will need to not only ensure that the technology is integrated and data rich – but cyber safe as well.
Emily Canon is Head of API Products at PEXA, and has experience in establishing thriving API ecosystems, API product strategy and end-to-end digital transformation. Emily has spoken at the API Days conference and various technology podcasts. With over a decade of experience in Technology and Product, Emily is passionate about extolling the business benefits of ecosystem strategy, and the necessity of customer centricity and product thinking for APIs.