API technology has been around for a while now, however the trend toward its widespread usage has been steadily accelerating over the years. The need for a better way to store and exchange information, as well as perform various transactions between the apps and devices has triggered unprecedented growth of API industry. Nowadays, APIs and the data they manage are to the large extent the driving force of innovation in many companies around the world.
2015, in particular, has been a remarkable year for API technology, and as it is coming to an end, we would like to take a look back at the highlights of API development, as well as try to make some predictions about what the next year might have in store.
APIs in 2015
The past year has been rich in events for APIs. Many new technical and business initiatives were launched and quite a few noteworthy conferences held. As for the major trends, the deepened connection between APIs and IoT, cloud integration through API and stronger emphasis on API security are only a few to name. To really capture the direction of API development, we have asked the experts to share their thoughts about major API tendencies of 2015.
Joan O’Brien, the VP, Collaborative R&D at TM Forum, has pointed out the shift towards an open ecosystem. She notes that there was “the widespread realization that open architectures and data are required to operate effectively in an open ecosystem, for which APIs are required. Shifts such as the EU PSD2 regulatory requirements which will come into force in 2017, demonstrates to me that the EU completely believes in the competitive advantage that can be gained through operating effectively in an open ecosystem. These new requirements which will be placed on the banking sector will force a shift in technology and culture in the banking sector”. She also adds that there is also now “a greater realization of the importance of common industry APIs. In TM Forum we are now crowd sourcing APIs from within our membership to create industry standard APIs.”
Mattia Alfieri, the CTO of Marketcloud mentions the critical importance of Facebook's GraphQL, “a query format that puts front-end requirements in charge”. This query language is easy to use and introduces a number of benefits. In particular, the backend doesn’t wind up with different custom endpoints for various kinds of data, there is just the GraphQL endpoint. As a result, less code is required to add new features.
However, there are a few things that need to be cultivated and refined further. “APIs are currently underdeveloped to the RESTful standards. For example, the twitter API incorporated verbs into the resource parameters due to not using the crud methodology”, - notes Dylan Kozak.
As you see, there are numerous novelties, as well as a few things to work on in API industry. All forward-looking companies need to keep track of both, which can often be difficult. So we have decided to take a quick look at what companies should do to work with APIs effectively.
Keeping Pace with API Development
One of the major things that companies are already doing is opening up their data through APIs and creating API communities to enable the development of various third-party apps. Mattia Alfieri highlights that “exposing APIs to the world can actually open new revenue streams, furthermore, from a technical viewpoint, the integration of API services enables new features and whole new products”.
The topic of increasing the company's revenue with the help of API is also a very relevant one. Many businesses successfully build their APIs, but can’t settle on a suitable model to monetize it. In brief, there are a few ways to approach the issue:
- Inclusion: Grant API usage with all of the app’s payment plans.
- Independence: Having developers pay separately for API usage.
- Incorporation: Treating API access as a feature that can be accessed only with certain plans.
Additionally, Joan O’Brien remarks, that companies need to consider, “whether their business strategy is to monetize the API or the data passed by the API. If the former, they need to be sure that the value of monetizing the API is not eroded over time”
"It’s important not to reinvent the wheel, and to think about where it makes sense to use a common API and where customization is justified" @JoannOBrien1
Finally, in order to both simplify their own API development and help advance the API industry as a whole, the companies should consider sharing API designs and collaborations.
APIs for Application Integration
One of the areas where API plays a crucial role is application integration. The average number of software solutions and services used by the modern enterprises is constantly growing. While these applications need to be integrated, building the modules manually is time and labor-consuming. Furthermore, many of the tools used are either cloud applications or providing data to mobile and IoT apps. Due to this, enterprizes need to adopt a more agile integration engine.
"APIs are the CORE enabler for application integration" @fatmatto
Mattia Alfieri adds that “companies must understand which other companies are offering complementary features and products in order to strengthen and improve their value proposition by integrating those services”.
"Open common APIs make it easier to integrate. If your product is easier to integrate, it will be more attractive to the buyer" @JoannOBrien1
The success of modern businesses, especially application vendors is largely dependent on how successfully they can integrate into an existing ecosystem and cooperate with other companies and developers to build new features or completely original services.
How Will APIs Evolve in 2016?
Last, but not least, we have asked the interviewed API experts to share their opinions about the trends that will dominate the API world in 2016. Here is what they came up with:
- “I would bet on new API-centric infrastructures and platforms, as the new dedicated API Gateway from Amazon aws” - Mattia Alfieri
- “APIs will be massively used and will eventually overrule facebook once websites and server integration and management are made simpler” - Dylan Kozak
- “The API economy will grow in 2016 in a more concerted way” - Joan O’Brien
- “I think Open Data / Data portals with vast quantities of information available through APIs will be a big feature of 2016. More and more smart cities are making their big data portals available to allow citizens to create new applications. I believe this is likely to grow significantly in 2016” - Joan O’Brien
Wrapping all up, it looks like we are heading for another exciting year, full of surprises and innovations. Have a fruitful year API lovers, and feel free to share your API predictions!
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