How Can an Internal API Ecosystem Engage Globally Disparate Business Silos and Create More Agile Product Development?March 15, 2016
Much of the discussion about APIs centers around exposing services to external developers and third party partners in order to broaden a company’s reach across the market landscape and capturing revenue by tapping into the business-to-developer (B2D) model. But, it is equally valuable (arguably more so) when companies adopt an API strategy to expose services to internal development teams.
An API strategy can become the lynchpin to change
In our experience with large global enterprises, it is not uncommon to have individual business units become autonomous with their own financials, infrastructure and customer-facing product teams driving development. They understand market dynamics and intrinsically believe they are best to define and develop products needed to grow their revenue contribution to the overall company. This mindset creates a siloed business environment that can result in rigid, time-consuming and costly product development processes with development teams that operate myopically.
In this situation, Daitan believes an internal API strategy can become the lynchpin to change across business units and drive fresh innovation on a global scale. The company as a whole can leverage existing data, products and content into an API Ecosystem, making it accessible to be re-imagined into new offerings. An API Ecosystem that is well structured, and supported can overcome existing silos, and re-invigorate development across the organization. How do we know this? We’ve had first hand experience with building it.
But if You Build It, Will They Come?
Yes, if you plan, promote and support your API Ecosystem just like any product. This “product” is aimed at an internal part of the organization entrenched in legacy processes and behaviors. So, the new Ecosystem needs to create an engaging experience to capture mindshare, and then maintain a supportive environment to keep the momentum growing.
Make it Engaging with API Demos
Plan, promote and support your API Ecosystem just like any product
Daitan’s team designs the API Ecosystem to truly showcase and promote what an individual API would produce. We typically leverage open source framework solutions such as — Swagger (swagger.io) — to enable a user to experience the API live on the web page by invoking functionality, thus making the value tangible. Another effective approach is to build API application demos based on common use cases, to help business units envision the functionality. Both approaches have become instrumental facets of the new API Ecosystems that we build, and have facilitated driving adoption.
Support the Community
To ensure sustained usage Daitan councils clients that building this type of API Ecosystem is only part of the solution. For a community of global engineers to be successful over the long-term, it also requires creation of appropriate documentation about the API designs and life cycle management, a library of SDKs to facilitate development across devices, and ongoing support. Orchestrating interaction across the various engineering and business unit teams to share insights and company-wide acknowledgement when resulting “new” products launch, are important communication vehicles to sustain the community.
So the answer to our original question is “yes.” If you build an API Ecosystem to engage your internal product development teams, and promote it like a product, and provide support to the community—it can create a more Agile development workforce capable of building unique solutions at a faster pace.
If you’re interested in learning more about APIs and best practices, then take a look at the White Paper below. This White Paper defines best practices for developing an API-first strategy and thriving in an API Economy.