API management can be a challenge in a constantly evolving technological environment. By turning to API management solutions, businesses have assistance in creating, implementing, and securing APIs. However, there are some common pitfalls to look out for.
This post will review those mistakes and, more importantly, what businesses can do about them. In short, here are the five pitfalls we will cover:
- Lack of coherent strategy
- Unsuitable company structure
- Limited training and support
- Irrelevant APIs
- Insufficient integration
Lack of Coherent Strategy
When APIs are used in the right way, they have the potential to transform a business, making it fit for the digital age. However, it’s essential to have a coherent strategy and plan of action in place. This has several key elements, including:
Continually analyzing the performance of business processes is critical to a successful strategy. Identifying areas where APIs can make a difference and improving it will enable businesses to focus their efforts. A good example of this can be seen in the time it takes to deal with customer inquiries. Without a sufficient API in place, responses to customer queries from websites can be delayed due to a lack of data organization. Analytics should show any improvements made.
The roll-out of APIs has to be sufficiently managed. By working with developers and other stakeholders responsible for IT systems, businesses need to ensure a smooth transition in the implementation process. A timetable with clearly defined stages and objectives will lead to the process being handled more efficiently.
The role of the executive team and leadership cannot be overstated. In order for the wider company to buy into the process, leaders need to set an example for colleagues to follow. It is down to the executive team to allay any concerns and provide support (Both vocal and material) for colleagues who may be struggling to understand APIs.
Having a robust strategy in place, with an executive team showing strong leadership can prove to be the difference, as demonstrated by Microsoft’s CEO, Sadya Nardella:
“In the past we had a homogeneous approach to our stack,” Nadella admits. “But I feel like right now we are API-ing every layer, celebrating any use anywhere and knowing we’ll have more opportunities in the future. One thing I’ve learned at Microsoft is, look, platform companies are best when they can create more opportunities for others.”
Unsuitable Company Structure
A critical factor in APIs’ success, and any technology implementation, is to have a decentralized company structure with autonomous teams. While some form of central oversight is essential, many businesses are too rigid and centralized in their structure.
The issue with a centralized business is the lack of flexibility required to deliver the best results. For example, the requirements of API for accounting systems will be different from those for marketing teams. While one API could feasibly cater for both and other tasks, the way the information is extracted and managed will vary significantly.
In addition, the way APIs are managed as a whole needs to be divided into specific roles such as creation, governance, and marketing. Having small teams managing each perspective will help increase the efficiency of API management.
Limited training and support
We might have heard the expression: “Technology is only as good as the user.” While this is true, to a point, it’s essential to understand that the user is often the product of training and support. Without sufficient training, the users of API systems will not maximize their potential and efficiency.
Companies that hold workshops and continual programs on the use of API products and other technology are rewarded by workers being able to utilize the tools and increase productivity. There should also be a broader awareness of what APIs do and how they benefit businesses.
With a solid training and support program in place, employees will buy into the transition and understand APIs’ importance. By ensuring employees have the knowledge and expertise, companies will benefit from their perspective and identify areas for improvement.
With over 23,000 APIs listed on the market and given their power in 21st-century businesses, it can be tempting to stock up on APIs. However, it can prove counterproductive, as it can divert teams away from more efficient and relevant solutions.
The key is for companies to take an in-depth look at their businesses and understand their requirements. As suggested in the second section, a decentralized approach would lead to specialist teams identifying their needs and matching them with the right products.
By pursuing a lean API procurement strategy, companies will be able to focus on fulfilling the potential of APIs that work for the business. Such an approach will not only save money, but it will also maximize revenue-generating opportunities in the future through efficient API and data management.
Insufficient API Integration
When we are talking about API integration, we are referring to this:
“API integration refers to the way two (or more) applications are connected by an API. This integration allows the connected applications to talk to each other and share relevant information across channels and platforms.”
In the coming decade, the importance of a sufficient integration strategy will only become more evident as data increasingly takes center stage. API and data management will be an essential part of a successful, digitized business.
A key benefit of API integration is the automation of processes, which allows different programs to communicate with each other. By taking out the human element, processes can be completed quickly and efficiently, with data automatically managed through API management platforms.
There are numerous advantages of a well-managed, integrated API ecosystem, including:
- Ease of document sharing and collaboration
- Utilization of cloud-technology to keep systems updated in real-time
- Cross-functionality of integrated APIs, thereby saving costs
- Ability to undertake cost-effective digital transformation by using APIs to extract data from legacy servers - bypassing the need for expensive and disruptive overhauls of IT systems
- Automate and speed up business processes
Turn Potential Pitfalls Into Strengths
By focusing on API management’s potential pitfalls, companies will be able to turn weaknesses into strengths. With each of the five points raised in the article, taking a proactive approach can transform those pitfalls into real business opportunities to get ahead.
The digital age has been here for the best part of two decades, and it is only becoming more advanced as the internet of things becomes ever more entrenched. Yet, there is still an opportunity for companies to seek a competitive advantage. A fully integrated API system at the heart of their businesses will streamline operations, with increased customer satisfaction and new revenue generation opportunities.