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Four steps for implementing a successful API strategy

When an organization uses APIs to build new products, new business channels, and new business models in ways that ultimately produce new revenue or other measurable value, that organization is often said to be “monetizing its APIs.”

In aggregate, the organizations around the world that directly or indirectly monetize their APIs form the basis of what the media often calls the “API Economy.” As a subset of the total global economy, the API economy is responsible for the exchange of trillions of dollars of value annually. According to a recent report, today’s technology leaders generated over a quarter of their organization’s revenue as a direct result of APIs.

Before you jump into building an API, you must consider the four steps below in order to ensure a successful API implementation strategy.

 


 

Step 1: Establish a digital strategy

The four stages start with establishing a digital strategy where, among other critical tasks, you must align stakeholders, define business outcomes, and validate the ecosystem and business models.

Step 2: Align the organization and culture

Next comes aligning the organization and culture. This is where the company has to realign itself around the business capabilities it will surface to its ecosystem through APIs, seeing them as not just technologies, but as products that must be trustworthy, secure, and designed for consumption by the target audiences.

 

When it comes to succeeding in the API economy, agile ecosystems marshal the forces of various organizational constituencies (employees, customers, partners, independent developers, etc.), business models, and business channels to very responsively create and often times co-create new value. APIs are invariably the connecting fabric that fuels the ecosystem’s agility, serving the necessary data and business capability for the just-in-time provision of game-changing customer experiences and business outcomes.

Step 3: Evaluate, build, and deploy the supporting technology

Imagine an in-flight entertainment experience involving two legs of air travel and a customer who would like to continue viewing a movie on the second leg at the point that she paused the movie during the first leg. At bare minimum, that awesome customer experience would involve the airline, the supplier of the in-flight entertainment hardware, and the provider of the satellite-delivered content. Newfound customer loyalty awaits. The data to facilitate the co-creation of such a customer experience exists. But the ecosystem isn’t yet aligned to deliver that outcome. But with APIs as the connective tissue behind that ecosystem, building that experience — an indirect form of monetizing the involved APIs — could be a matter of weeks if not days.

 

Enabling your ecosystem with APIs — driven by best of breed full-lifecycle management — is the third stage of the blueprint: evaluate and build the supporting tech.

Step 4: Engage your ecosystem

Finally, the fourth stage involves engaging your ecosystem through evangelism, productivity tools, training, and hackathons with an eye towards maximizing the awareness and adoption of your platform.

 

Of course, measuring progress while exercising fiscal responsibility are both key to API program success. These are ongoing activities across all four stages and the organization continues to iterate as it digitally transforms its business.

 

Use this blueprint as your foundational framework for a great API strategy. To get the full guide, download API strategy essentials: A practical guide to winning in the API economy

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