IT departments have been struggling to support applications across a growing number of endpoints, from mobile devices to cloud and the Internet of Things. Yet they’re expected to deliver more, and faster.
That’s why more IT departments are looking to expose business logic as an API. Application programming interfaces have evolved; it’s no longer about exposing legacy services internally, but allowing corporate assets to be shared, reused or even resold to external parties.
This is becoming a critical component of business workflows across industries, from healthcare to government and financial services. Industry analysts say we’re seeing the rise of the API economy, where organizations can extend existing services, boost innovation and even create new revenue sources. APIs can also be used for competitive advantage to collect information and predict customer behaviour.
APIs allow external developers to create alternative applications for existing mobile and desktop platforms. And the API economy is being fuelled by the IoT, where interconnected devices — from parking meters to washing machines — connect to the cloud via APIs, turning data into useful, actionable information.
“The vast majority of digital business interactions will happen through APIs,” says research firm Gartner, “and these APIs will need to be tracked and managed, especially as the number of things consuming APIs spike up.” Gartner says application services governance and API management, delivered through software or cloud services, will help track, manage, monetize, extend and control APIs.
For many organizations, this is uncharted territory. They need to build a business case for APIs and provide value to customers, while ensuring those APIs are designed in a way that protects corporate and customer data. It’s essential to understand how data and services will be used externally; if handled incorrectly, it could lead to legal liabilities or expose security holes.
API management solutions allow organizations to create, publish and manage APIs on premise or in the cloud. Most offer a dashboard view to help govern, secure and monitor usage of APIs. But API management also involves new polices and procedures (and often new roles and responsibilities) to balance the user experience with security and privacy.
While there are challenges ahead, the API economy also offers new opportunities to transform and reinvent the way we do business.