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Maximizing the ROI on Your API

When the team here at ProgrammableWeb first started brainstorming the idea of this API University series on maximizing the ROI on your API, we called it “the Decision Series.” In fact, we were calling it that up until the very last minute because of how it covers so many decisions that must be made once your API journey begins.

Even as we “went to print,” we debated as to whether this was really a series about API strategy more than it was about return on investment. But, as you can see from the list of chapters and case studies below, while this series covers some strategic issues such as which service to open up first and picking business models for your APIs, it also covers key decisions that have to be made once the strategy is in place. For example, how to best engage developers and support them with great documentation and portals. And how to measure API outcomes.

Taking the plunge into APIs is not a decision to be taken lightly. One point we make in this series and elsewhere on ProgrammableWeb is how important it is to treat your APIs like you would any other product. Any time you launch a new product, it’s a major undertaking which is why no stone should be left unturned when it comes to maximizing its chances of success. In other words, driving the most return on investment. The decisions covered in this series are the ones that stand between, the success of your API, and maybe even the success of your company.

We also realize that when reading about APIs here on ProgrammableWeb and elsewhere around the Net, much of the prescriptive advice can come across as theoretical. We’re often reminded of the old saying that “those who can’t do, teach.” There are a lot of experts out there who aren’t doers but they’re somehow knowledgable enough tell others how to do it. That’s why this series also ushers-in a more formal ProgrammableWeb effort to publish case studies that use real world stories to bring home many of the core recommendations you’ll find in API University. This series includes four case studies covering Dixons, Dun & Bradstreet, Intercom, and Ziggeo, a company that was literally zigging when it decided it had to zag. Another one of our API University series on real world business strategies contains eight other case studies and, if case studies are all you want to read, ProgrammableWeb is searchable by content type; one of those types being “case study.”

Finally, like most of the articles you'll find on API University, we take the “living content” approach. In other words, we view our educational content as content that lives and evolves over time. As such, we fully expect to be updating these articles as new API approaches, ideas, and techniques for maximizing success come to light. If you feel we’re leaving out some important points, we welcome your feedback and suggestions on how our content can be improved for the betterment of the entire API community.

Part 1: Making API Decisions: Are You Connecting Business and Technical Interests?

When a business starts its API journey, it has to make a number of key decisions. Not surprisingly, at each decision point, multiple options branch out it can become easy to become confused and cautious quickly. How do you make the decisions to embark on a successful API journey?

Part 2: How To Get the Team and Support in Place for Your API Strategy

This is Part 2 of ProgrammableWeb's series on maximizing the ROI on your API. In this part we explore how to build a team that can build internal support by liaising with various business units. The article also looks at putting together the right team to drive your API strategy.

Part 3: What Data and Services Should Your API Expose First?

At this point in an organization's API journey, the groundwork has been laid and it is time to think about one of the first big decisions in creating our APIs: which data and services to open first as APIs. This article looks at how different API business models can affect this decision.

Part 4: How To Pick the Best Business Models for Your APIs

When defining your API strategy, a crucial decisions to make is what API business model will be used. A business model is a way to understand all of the system components that come together to allow you to create a project and add value. It helps you answer how you will make money from your API.

Part 5: Why To Treat and Manage Your APIs as Products

As you go through the decisions involved in setting up the business side of managing an API, it becomes clear that you will need to treat the API as a product in order for it to succeed. But what does that mean and how do you do that? This part takes you through the things you need to consider.

Part 6: How to Choose Architectural Styles and Specification Formats For Your APIs

The first few decisions around building an API strategy centered on the business components. With those in place, building the API is now possible. The API strategy moves to becoming more of a technical concern for several steps as you resolve API design, security, and API Ops.

Part 7: How to Pick the Right Technology Stack to Provision Your API

With business decisions in place for your API strategy, we've moved on to some more technical issues, such as the reference and API architectures, and the choice of API specification formats. Now in this part, let's take a look at the range of API lifecycle tooling available.

Part 8: Understanding What it Takes to Secure Your API

At this point in your API journey, you have made a number of business decisions and a couple of technical ones. Now, several crucial decisions need to be made around security. Securing an API is an often neglected task, yet doing so is at the heart of an effective API strategy.

Part 9: Best Practices and Tools for Documenting APIs

Congratulations, your API is now production ready. Next you will need to provide documentation to consumers so they can integrate the data and services you have exposed via API quickly. This part covers API documentation including the role of API specs and a number of available tools.

Part 10: How to Build Great API Developer Communities

Now that your API has been published and external developers are beginning to consume it, our focus shifts again towards a balance between business and technical issues. In this part of the series we take a look at how a business can leverage the technical API to grow a developer community?

Part 11: The ABCs of Building API Developer Portals

Our series on getting the most ROI out of your API has looked at the business and technical decisions to make when building your API strategy. We've also made decisions around how to engage with developers and build a developer community. A key aspect to this involves creating a developer...

Part 12: Gauging API Success: Knowing What Metrics to Measure

Deciding what metrics matter depends on the overall strategy goals and business model that aligns with your APIs. This is why defining the business model was one of the first steps in your decision series. Now we need to make sure our evaluation framework matches back up to what we set out to do.