From streamlining business workflow to new pathways of monetization and rise in the Internet of Things (IoT), APIs have completely changed how we reach users of technology. They have become the fabric of connectivity by enabling the digital transformation of companies wanting to gain access to new audiences; seamlessly connect a world of devices; create new models and generate incremental revenue streams. APIs give meaning to the idea that “every company is a software company.”
We no longer simply buy technology, software or hardware, we plug into a growing open ecosystem of API-driven services. As this trend grows, it fuels momentum around IoT and the business/consumer experience of all things connected.
We are all consumers of APIS.
As consumers find convenience and lifestyle benefits, the pace will continue to accelerate for even greater interconnectivity, and added capabilities through voice activation technologies and artificial intelligence—all of which inspires the formation of new “unicorns” and new growth opportunities for players in the space. We are all consumers of APIS.
New Customer “Types” Using APIs
For application developers and independent software vendors (ISVs), APIs have played a significant role in business growth potential. APIs have allowed them to expand the reach of their software beyond traditional “customers.” API-driven software companies look at internal development teams (in large enterprise organizations), and external developers as incremental and vital customer ecosystems—each providing unique value. When internal dev teams in large organizations can access APIs that provide valuable data or incremental functionality it has the potential to increase communication, and efficiency—which saves time and money. And external developers bring fresh imagination to how APIs can be used to enhance their own applications or create entirely new ones—which creates new opportunities for monetization.
Some companies have actually become API-only—creating wholly new business models—where the developers are the “only” customer. For example, payments processing company Stripe and communications provider Twilio. Both are meant to be consumed primarily as a service, so, the API is the business.
The Rise of the Citizen Developer
Now we see the rise of the “Citizen Developer,” which reveals a new user of APIs. This has emerged as both individuals and enterprise business users have come to rely on purpose-built applications – especially in the cloud – to do their jobs. Now, many have their data assets spread among multiple applications and are looking for ways to:
- Combine data and even functionality from those multiple applications in order to innovate or solve new, pressing business problems.
- Increase the efficiency of their daily routine, by automating steps of their workflow that now execute on totally different applications.
For example, the type of applications Citizen Developers build solve a workflow problem, or access business intelligence data needed to be visualized, or enable event-driven responses. The Citizen Developer is able to effectively “drag-and-drop” code to build new business applications by using well-formed API-based services via providers such as, IFTTT, Zapier, SnapLogic, Salesforce, Microsoft and other “Low Code/No Code” business platforms. So, the business user, aka the Citizen Developer, who knows best what it is needed, no longer has to rely on IT or outside developers to solve the problem.
APIs Equal Business Growth
When you really think about the omnipresent nature of APIs; the growth in customer “types” that consume them; and that APIs enable all the elements of digital access, communication, and transactions—you can appreciate how vital they are to helping business grow today.