Spurred by innovation in mobility, cloud and big data, a business without a mobile footprint can be left “in the dust”. Every application that touches a person will need to be available on a mobile device. Application Programming Interfaces (API's) have become the route to gain more adoption from developers and services from outside the company.
But what exactly is an API? A more textbook definition of an API is a set of routines, protocols and tools that provide the building blocks for making it easier for programmers creating software applications.
A real life example is mobile payment processing. Here’s how it works: a consumer wants to make a payment on a shoe company’s web site to purchase a pair of dress shoes. Once the consumer clicks the “pay now” button, the credit card information is transferred securely to the credit card company (who provided the payment processing API). Once approved, the credit card company’s server will send instructions and payment to the shoe company as well as confirm the purchase with the consumer. Think of the hours the company saved by not having to build its own solution. Rather, they utilized the credit card company’s API with a small usage fee, freeing up their developers time.
But what does this mean to you? How can you succeed in the API economy? Here’s where the A-B-C’s of APIs come into play.
“A” is for applications
APIs started as a way for employees to consume services and to provide better functionality for internal enterprise applications. Nowadays, APIs are used in every application for use on any device to simplify and scale programs and features for every type of available operating system. These third-party tools allow application developers to use features that would have cost the business valuable time and money. Not to mention, APIs allow faster development, consistency and quality of implementation, and availability of features to be adopted at a far more rapid pace to enhance the user experience, which is a sign of success in mobile channels for enterprises.
APIs are everywhere, from social media platforms, video streaming sites, payment processing and everything in between! They create the opportunity for developers to pull content and features from each source while simplifying integration by not having to learn the vast amount of programming languages that are used.
“B” is for back-end
Enabling API success for mobile channels in enterprises is more realistically achievable with leveraging either a mobile systems architecture or a mobile back end as a service (MBaaS), or perhaps leveraging a combination of the two. These approaches allow for rapid deployment as well as better lifecycle management and security of APIs.
The urgency to build mobile applications with vast features can enable cloud-based back-end hosting opportunities when implementing APIs. Streamlining the process is more cost-effective for enterprises when implementing a mobile-first or API-first strategy. This MBaaS approach also benefits developers by eliminating a redundant stack and everything is manageable in one place.
“C” is for cost
By now, you assume that APIs is a fantastic opportunity, but where does the cost come into play? It truly depends on the API supplier. There are three different types:
- Free APIs – These are available to the public, are free to use and are published to be consumed with little restrictions. Free APIs generate more traffic to the source of the API which can gain notoriety and increase spend potential by other sources of revenue. For example, large-scale social media or news outlets can gain web traffic by programmers using their APIs, then can generate interest from advertisers based on web traffic statistics.
- Paid APIs – Of course not everything is free, but paid APIs are some of the most coveted by developers. These APIs require payment by the user either by a subscription or consumption model, and they offer a vast array of extra features that would be extremely time-consuming or almost impossible without their availability. They’re scalable, secure and enable end-users with demanded user experience features. Some examples of paid APIs are payment processing, map/geography location services, and application scalability for operating systems.
- Get Paid APIs – There are some APIs that will actually pay the developers using them! Sending traffic or sales opportunities to the API source can be profitable for both the API source as well as the business that uses it. A few examples of this include utilizing advertising APIs on your web site or application or earning revenue by affiliate marketing when using shopping site’s APIs.
Why does it matter?
Partners can capitalize on these opportunities by understanding the up-sell opportunity when businesses are implementing a new mobile or API-first strategy. Becoming your customer’s trusted advisor by understanding the rapid-deployment era we’re in is paramount in the sales process. Application development platforms, application testing, API management and security software are just a few of the up-sell opportunities when discussing your customer’s mobile journey.