Customer and partner ecosystem growth (becoming a platform)
A key common challenge for organizations is to serve special needs that vary on a customer-by-customer basis – ideally, these should be delivered in such a way that customers can help themselves in setting up for special needs. In addition, it's often the case that partner organizations can provide valuable complementary services to enhance an offering. However, in both of these cases, customers need the means to integrate software systems with the company they are doing business with. It is not surprising, then, that one of the most important uses of APIs is to provide the foundation for "becoming a platform" – in other words, they provide exact integration points for customers, suppliers, distributors and integrators. Companies such as Evernote provide the means for many third-party integrations to enhance the user experience, eBay uses APIs as the foundation for a powerful partner ecosystem, and even less obviously technical companies such as Nike are clearly using APIs to enable a third-party ecosystem to emerge.
APIs have become one of the hot topics on the corporate IT agenda in recent months – both in terms of individual companies launching new APIs such as Jawbone and Honeywell and in the more general rise of the API economy. The boom is evident as ProgrammableWeb has reached the milestone of 10,000 APIs published.
Despite this attention, however, it's often hard to reconcile what is being written vs. what APIs actually deliver to the business. In other words – who is using APIs and what are they using them for? To help answer this, 3Scale, a leading API management solutions provider, has developed the top five reasons a business needs APIs.