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Seven steps for implementing a successful API strategy

Data is arguably an enterprise’s most valuable asset. Data not only helps companies engage and connect with audiences, but it empowers employees to streamline operations and better serve customers. Leveraging APIs through a robust API strategy allows businesses to better harness data, as well as bring siloed systems together for a more integrated business model that delivers better customer experiences.

Much like any piece of software, modern APIs have a development lifecycle that includes designing, testing, building, managing and versioning. As more businesses look to building API, it will be critical to develop and execute implementation API strategies that encourage collaboration, promote innovation and improve the customer experience.  

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


Step 1: Perform a data audit

Review the data you’ve collected. What does the data tell you? How can this data help you deliver better experiences for your customers? How can this data help your employees meet the customer where they are?

Step 2: Determine desired outcomes

Take time to define the vision you have for your API. What is it you want to accomplish with the API? Who should have access to the API? What type of data is the API going to leverage? You should be able to clearly communicate your desired business outcomes.

Step 3: Review infrastructure

Take a closer look at your existing applications and systems. For example, imagine you are building a 360-degree view of your customers to create a better customer experience. In order to build this view, you will need to first gather the right data then integrate it with internal and external applications. To do this, you’ll need to have the right foundation in place.

Do you have legacy systems that might make new technologies difficult to integrate? Does your team have the tools they need to design, test and implement the appropriate APIs? Will your current systems support your desired outcome? Are you equipped with the tools to integrate systems and data for a holistic view of your customers?

Step 4: Take time to train talent

Creating and publishing internal and external APIs requires different skill sets. Take the time to provide the proper training to your IT staff so that they are ready to take on new challenges. Also, consider hiring new talent or tapping into existing talent to name an API manager who can coordinate and oversee your API strategy and development. You’ll also need to pinpoint someone to create and enforce API-related policies.

Step 5: Support outside developers

Ensuring that developers will have a positive experience with your APIs is a critical step in successful implementation. It begins with understanding your audience and their journey, and includes providing use cases, and allowing users to experiment in order to discover the full value of adoption. Use forums, social channels and email campaigns to ask about developers’ expectations and incorporate their feedback into future evolutions of your product.

Step 6: Fold in security

Your APIs will likely connect to highly sensitive corporate data, so it’s critical to ensure that the appropriate governance and permissions are set up correctly so that specific users, apps and devices have the appropriate access. Build controls into your APIs from the very beginning and create standard security and access policies.

Step 7: Future-proof your APIs

As more users leverage your APIs, you’ll likely need to deploy robust API management capabilities throughout each phase of the API lifecycle. A constantly evolving digital landscape means developers need an API that is agile and fits the company’s needs even as its technology stack grows and changes. Future-proofing your API ensures that you can deliver the highest quality and performance, providing an optimal user experience, despite changes.

A great API strategy does more than make sure that your API is successful; rather, it allows businesses to better extract valuable data and integrate systems.

Learn more about how connectivity can drive your API strategy and inform your organization’s overall digital transformation in our 2018 Connectivity benchmark report.