From Amazon and Twitter to Expedia and YouTube, large companies recognize the value of providing Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) to their systems and continue to invest big bucks in them. These well-established APIs grant third parties controlled access to their functionality and content, which is essentially like allowing you into a candy shop filled with lollipops and candy bars (content and functionality) and giving you the key (API) to enjoy them anytime you want.
Before explaining the value of API, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of these popular systems. The following are a few facts and figures to illustrate just how important APIs are and why so many companies are choosing to use them.
1. APIs allow businesses to build new platforms on scalable and accessible content much faster.
2. Once a maturing API becomes a core capability within a business, numerous opportunities begin to present themselves. Essentially, when it comes to API, it’s okay to start small, while thinking about the bigger picture.
3. Within the first 13 months, Netflix’s API usage grew 37x and currently boasts 33% of the US evening internet traffic.
4. Surprisingly, when building APIs, large teams are not required. Rather, small, flexible and dexterous development teams can equally create large returns on investment. Simply put, APIs require vision, clear leadership and a story that resonates with stakeholders.
The Value of APIs
As you can easily see, APIs have a distinct value for large and small companies alike. The value of APIs begins with internal consumption use case, rather than the more commonly known public open APIs to attract others from outside. Beefing up the content accessible within your own organization will show benefits very quickly. Consider how easy your projects would be if you could access a system that gave you various kinds of content while using any possible dimension (language, profile, context, user, location, you name it!). The ability to have one simple yet standard and reliable option that gave you access to information would be pretty spectacular, wouldn’t it? The question then becomes, what value are you willing to place on that? The answer is priceless.
The capability to communicate and grant access to the controlled consumption of content both internally and externally within an enterprise is significant to the point that businesses are discovering they almost can’t function without APIs. With APIs as the programmatic stage for content, everything “backstage” is the outcome of the efforts invested in the “service providers” to make that content accessible. Meanwhile, the front stage or “service consumers” are able to focus their efforts on putting the content to the most effective use.
Linking it All Together
A robust content API delivers a definite separation of concerns between those backstage diligently working to structure and develop content, than from those at the front stage chomping at the bit to gain access to the content so they can creatively do amazing things with it. Needless to say, APIs benefit both service providers and consumers with endless prospects for advancement on either side of the API.
The ultimate goal is to move beyond simply separating the content to effectively moving it so it can be utilized everywhere it needs to be. The benefits are endless and big brands are already seeing the profits. Your business can enjoy the same.
It’s important to keep in mind that APIs are going to get a lot more popular, but APIs require a solid infrastructure. It’s a programmatic interface to your content. So if you’re creating a content API, be sure to design a content model from the start that conveys the required level of structure and meaning.
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