Awareness of the various business considerations will allow you to better understand your organization’s API needs. There are several
flavors of API initiatives that support the digital economy and an understanding of the different kinds of API models is critical to selecting
the right API initiative for your business.
To determine which is most suitable for your organization, consider also whether the app developer resides within your business, within a partner’s company or works independently (“in the wild”). The role you want developers to fill helps determine which API initiatives come into play: internal, partner or public. Getting the right mix of API program scenarios can push an enterprise toward becoming a robust platform for innovation that enables
it to compete in a world of new expectations and compelling opportunities, speeding it on its way to digital transformation.
Internal APIs for business agility and flexibility.
An internal API program can open up collaboration and innovation inside your company. Often, demand for an internal API program is driven by the need for agility and a desire to build mobile apps and experiences or portals to handle internal business processes. Legacy IT systems tend to be stable, but also slow moving, and sometimes can’t easily keep up with market evolution. By putting APIs between IT systems and apps, agility and flexibility result while still enabling a business to take advantage of the underlying stable system. Partner APIs for collaboration and business development. A partner API program can open up secure collaboration and innovation with partners, helping a business deliver on new business-development opportunities with consumers and partners. Partnering using APIs can create new channels, help partner organizations to expand a company’s value proposition into an adjacent business, or complete a company’s offering. The most obvious way of partnering using APIs is creating new channels. Netflix is a classic example of a company that transitioned from a mail-order DVD provider to an online streaming media system.
The company’s API partner initiative resulted in popular Netflix integrated applications for the web, desktops, mobile devices, and TV. A strategic partner can use an enterprise’s value proposition or core offering to strategically expand its footprint or complete a product offering. There are many cases across industries (such as the weather and the financial industries) in which APIs have facilitated this kind of expansion. APIs also enable deep visibility into business interactions with partners that can help inform and refine partner strategies.
Public APIs for breakthrough innovation.
A public API program can build and inspire a broad ecosystem of app developers who create new experiences and apps that make big breakthroughs. Public APIs are a well-known paradigm given the success of companies like Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook. Public APIs are sometimes called “open APIs” since they are a more open way of utilizing and sharing APIs with other companies and/ or consumers. Businesses will choose to use public APIs depending on their goals and the amount of information they are comfortable making accessible to the general public.