Enterprise API Experiences For All of Your API Consumers
We are halfway through the calendar year at Solstice and one of the hottest emerging trends we see today is that the API Economy rush has finally hit the enterprise. It is clear that CIO’s and CTO’s across Fortune 1000 organizations have been put to task in 2017 to direct resources into creating API foundations within their organizations. These API foundations are needed in order to satisfy demand from consumers who want access to their data as well to potentially find new ways of creating revenue streams that are fed directly from enterprise API endpoints. Solstice is working hard across a number of market verticals to design and build digital tools (documentation, API stores, sandbox environments, etc.) for consumers to leverage when using an Enterprise API.
And while an API strategy for internal and external consumers may seem like low hanging fruit, the strategic planning and enablement of an API platform certainly comes with a significant price when done right and an even larger one when done wrong.
“[While] launching an API program seems like a no-brainer, the history of API programs reads like a travelogue on the good intentions highway.” - Ed Arnuff, Tech Crunch
Here are a few quick areas of focus that we are encouraging our enterprise customers to consider when building an Enterprise API ecosystem and offering.
#1 - Take a human-centered approach when building for your API consumers; identify your target personas and adopt a test and learn approach.
At their core, API’s are digital products in the same way that web applications, mobile apps and other modern experiences are. In order to build the best experience for the consumers of your API’s, you need to take the time to understand who the consumer is, what their objectives are and finally research and learn what aspects of the API experience are important to each.
For example, a consuming software developer of a set of API’s has a different set of use cases from those that a business systems analyst will have. Both consumers have different objectives, different levels of sophistication and most often different approaches as to how they want to use your API’s.
A persona based approach that emphasizes iterative product development will allow you to zero in on satisfying the needs of all parties and in turn will grow the adoption and use of your API’s.
#2 - Meet your API consumers where they are
Dividing up your consumer personas will quickly surface the wide spectrum of both expectations and tools that each persona will bring to the table. It’s important to ensure that you are taking every step necessary to meet those specific expectations as well as to deliver an API experience that can be leveraged with your users’ favorite tools, wherever possible.
For application development personas, lean on widely recognized industry standards - RESTful resource based API’s that favor lightweight JSON over heavier XML. Asking developers to conform to your specific implementation rather than industry standards is a quick way to fail in meeting any developer's expectations.
For business analyst consumers, take the additional steps to build connectors or bridges to the most popular business analysis and intelligence tools in the marketplace today. This allows analysts to consume your API’s through the connector experiences that you have built and allows them to stay within the confines of the toolset that they know so well.
#3 - Enterprise API foundations are best served in a cloud native microservices architecture
In order to build an API foundation that can quickly scale individual services up and down, enterprises must strongly consider cloud native architectures if not currently employed. Whether you are running in a private cloud, a public cloud or a multi-cloud environment, a cloud native microservices based architectural approach coupled with a strong DevOps model will increase the speed in which you are able to roll out new services to market. Scalable services that are rapidly being expanded upon in a growing ecosystem will inevitably result in a better customer experience for your API consumers.