A Five-Step Strategy for Developing Business-Savvy APIs

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    APIs are a powerful tool, when you consider how compact the coding is. IT has known this for some time, as APIs have gone from a way to provide services to being the virtual superglue between services and mobile applications.

    Still, when the Chicago Tribune publishes an article like “App Integration seen as Key to Online Business Strategy,” that’s an entirely different level of success. (This Chicago Tribune article is available for free viewing if you’re not a regular visitor to this site. If you are, you may need a Tribune digital subscription to read it.) The article smartly notes that APIs will only become more essential as the Internet of Things takes off.

    The Tribute interviewed Speaktoit CEO Ilya Gelfenbeyn, whose company developed an API for voice recognition that could be integrated with everyday objects.

    “Before it was like we’re opening up an API for some API enthusiast, but now it’s becoming much more mainstream,” Gelfenbeyn told the Chicago Tribune.

    Likewise, more established companies are using APIs to open up and integrate existing enterprise applications, according to Mala Ramakrishnan, director of product marketing at Oracle.

    Both trends indicate it’s time to rethink how APIs are developed.

    “There is a move to broaden the development community beyond IT to include mobile application developers, non-IT line-of-business application developers and third-party application developers — mobile and on-premise[s],” Ramakrishnan told TechTarget

    Mobile Device Management

    How can CIOs start to open up the API development process? Ramakrishnan offered a five-step best practices strategy:

    1. Create a Center of Excellence for API development.
    2. Bring business stakeholders together with IT to discuss how APIs can be used to help customers, and to extend or add to the business model.
    3. Be specific in these discussions, which means discussing monetizing the API, an API methodology, key performance indicators, and a plan to manage the API from birth to retirement.
    4. Decide the technology needed to support APIs as part of the business plan. This doesn’t necessarily mean buying a bunch of tools — you can incorporate cloud in your plans. But be specific about integration, service plans, security policies and business rules, TechTarget warns.
    5. Deliver in iterations. APIs aren’t something you build and abandon. Plan to deliver in stages so you can quickly address problems or add capabilities.

    If you’re interested in learning more about API management tools, Forrester’s Forrester Wave on Hybrid2 Integration is a great resource for learning more about this market, and it’s still available for free downloading from Informatica and MuleSoft.

    Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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