How To Design And Manage APIs- A Manager’s Guide

SAP Hybris, SAP Hybris Integration Partner and SAP Commerce Cloud

What Is An API?

API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other.
When you use an application on your mobile phone, the application connects to the Internet and sends data to a server. The server then retrieves that data, interprets it, performs the necessary actions and sends it back to your phone. The application then interprets that data and presents you with the information you wanted in a readable way. This is what an API is – all of this happens via API.
Each time you use an app like Facebook, send an instant message, or check the weather on your phone, you’re using an API.

Why Should Businesses Use APIs?

Digital disruptors are changing the pace of business at an alarming rate. As a result, organizations are increasingly looking for ways to become more agile. This has left us with technological buzzwords like APIs.

It is worth questioning whether APIs are worth the cost and time to implement. Do they actually provide enterprise value? A simple act of buying software cannot magically transform a business.

Organizations need to be deterministic and create an organizational capacity for change. This means leadership needs to set and frequently reinforce the expectation that roles and processes need to change too, in order to support a new way of operating.

It also means managers and their teams need to define how the changes will be measured so that everyone is on the same page around what is working and what is not.

5 Ways In Which Managers Can Uniquely Make APIs Work For Their Business

  • Building a new IT operational model

    The role of IT is significant to this organizational change, as it starts with IT unlocking core systems with APIs and then working cross-functionally with development teams to encourage and empower them to build some of their own solutions using IT-provided, self-service assets like APIs and templates.

    The broader development team is also encouraged to add new assets or improve existing assets, scaling the network effect of these assets.

    Aligning the broader business around the same mindset fosters a collaborative environment, where teams will automatically inquire into what assets exist that can accelerate their current projects, or what assets don’t exist that they can create for others to reuse in future projects. With consumer expectations changing frequently, organizations require a new IT operating model to build and iterate faster to stay competitive.

  • Establishing an internal API economy

    Organizations are participating in the external API economy by opening up services to third parties via APIs in an effort to drive revenue by joining as many value chains as possible.

    According to a Harvard Business Review article, Salesforce generates 50 percent of its revenue through APIs, Expedia generates 90 percent and eBay generates 60 percent, showing that APIs are real revenue drivers if leveraged properly.

    However, in order to participate in the external API economy, organizations first need to establish an internal API economy. This is accomplished by using APIs to help remove the limitations of legacy systems and empower the broader organization to be self-reliant.

    As a result, organizations can move faster, be more agile, deliver products and services more cheaply and quickly and react to changing market conditions.

  • Designing a secure API

    API security is now a top-level concern.

    Secured by design means an API would never be released that doesn’t have credentials that are signed and regulated. While it’s beneficial to have data move around the enterprise freely to speed up efficiency, IT needs to govern and control it and even shut it down if the information has been siphoned out without proper authority.

  • Implementing a microservice architecture

    A microservice is not meant to serve a piece of functionality in an application.

    The challenge for organizations is understanding how they will build and leverage their microservice architecture. Do individuals build the exact services they need every time they need them (e.g., Netflix)? Do organizations form small teams around bits of code that operate independently (e.g., Spotify)? Or some other variation that mixes-and-matches microservices with other architectures?

    If teams open that microservice up to a broader audience internally or externally, they should put an API on top of it and start managing that as a reusable capability. Managers should start to bridge the gap between microservices and traditional systems with APIs to promote development speed and agility.

  • Designing chatbots that incorporate automation and human interaction for customer service

    A lot of experiments have been undertaken to figure out how to fuse automation and human control to provide better customer service and support.

    How much can organizations actually automate without driving the customer away? Finding out the right balance between automating something through software and getting humans involved is crucial.

    Managers should try to change the interaction model between their customers to help them find information quicker.

    In the near term, chatbots need to quickly understand intonation to determine if the caller should go to a representative or stay on the line to answer a few more questions. If the caller gets frustrated because too many questions are being asked by the chatbot, the system should recognize the frustrated tone and push the caller through to a representative. The representative should then be equipped with all the caller’s information so the caller doesn’t get more frustrated at having to repeat everything.

    Balancing chatbot automation with human interaction won’t be successful if the two worlds don’t hand off well to each other, and APIs are at the core of accomplishing this.

    Thus, in these 5 ways, APIs can be designed and managed for the best possible outcome.

How INTECH Can Help?

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