Is your business keen to adopt APIs and reap the rewards, but in need of a few pointers? From embracing the fundamentals of API adoption to developing an API adoption strategy designed for success, we’ve got you covered.
Getting started with API adoption
Adopting APIs can enable you to deliver new features, functionality and apps. You can better serve your existing customer base with new and improved products and court entirely new customers as well. Where should you start? Follow these five steps to ensure a structured, efficient approach to the future of API adoption in your business:
- Define business goals
- Research and evaluate available APIs
- Plan and budget for the project
- Integrate the API into your systems
- Test and launch the API
Let’s break these down into a bit more detail.
Defining your business goals
What is the purpose of your API adoption plan? Defining why you want to adopt APIs, who will benefit and how, and what business benefits you hope to achieve is crucial. Defining your goals is also key to being able to measure your success against them as your API adoption strategy progresses.
Researching and evaluating available APIs
Back in 2021, F5 estimated that there were already nearly 200 million APIs worldwide, including public and private APIs. Fast-forward a few years and that number has grown immeasurably. There are now tens of thousands of public APIs, collections and workspaces on Postman alone.
This means that finding the right APIs to meet your needs takes careful research, along with clarity on precisely what you require and why. Evaluate the options carefully and consider which APIs meet your needs and which you can easily use for a proof of concept.
Remember that different APIs can provide notably different user experiences. If the API you’re considering is unintuitive, poorly documented and leading to frustrations, it could be worth finding an alternative.
Planning and budgeting for the project
Any new project needs a plan and API adoption is no different. You’ll need to map out everything from your resource and skills requirements to your timeline, identifying gaps, risks and challenges as you do so. Including the API metrics and adoption goals that you defined at the outset will tie everything together nicely. Be sure to account for regulatory requirements and data privacy obligations as part of your plan.
You’ll need a budget for your API adoption plan too, including both the forecast expenditure and anticipated returns.
Integrating the API into systems
An important element of your planning will be how the proposed API integrates into your existing systems and how you’re going to manage everything. There are numerous API management architectural and deployment patterns that you can use to do so.
How you approach integration can have a huge impact on the overall success of your API adoption, so be sure to give this part of the process the attention it deserves.
Testing and launching the API
Adopting an API means you can extend your apps, features and functionality beyond what was previously possible. Of course, that means undertaking extensive testing to ensure that everything is working properly before you make a big fanfare about your new product. Test both intended use cases and edge cases to ensure your API functions as it should, no matter what your future customers throw at it.
Common challenges in API adoption
Adopting an API means understanding the full adoption lifecycle and anticipating likely challenges during that lifecycle. Let’s look at some of the main challenges you might face on your adoption journey, so that you can be ready to face them head on.
Regulatory compliance and industry standards
Does your business have to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)? These and other legislative and industry standard requirements mean jumping through plenty of hoops to keep data safe.
When you adopt an API, you need to ensure that the way it retrieves and returns data is in line with your compliance obligations. If you adopt an open source API gateway (or, indeed, a closed source gateway), you’ll need to ensure that it complies with your regulatory obligations as well.
Handling data privacy and security concerns
Tied in with meeting regulatory obligations is the need to handle data privacy and security concerns. Any APIs you adopt need to be integrated with your existing systems and services in a way that keeps data safe and secure both in transit and at rest.
Security and access control
Adopting an API and integrating it into your service offering means ensuring robust security and access control. If you haven’t worked with APIs before, this may seem daunting, but a reliable API management solution can help – one of the benefits of Tyk is that it provides the security you need right out of the box.
APIs can deliver outstanding agility for your business, as well as superior connectivity and new products and features. However, to benefit from the agility that APIs provide, you’ll need to keep your integrations lightweight and flexible.
Organisational and cultural hurdles
>Embracing any new technology can give rise to organisational challenges. Lack of in-house skills is often a key issue, as is overcoming cultural hurdles. Ensuring that you bring everyone along on the API journey with you, sharing information, goals and anticipated benefits, can help to iron out these adoption wrinkles.
Ensuring scalability and performance
Another challenge you’ll need to overcome is ensure your API adoption plans cater to your future business needs, as well as your current ones. This means ensuring the APIs you adopt are scalable without it impacting their performance. Thankfully, there are plenty of tips you can use to scale your APIs – and scale your API gateway – while also optimising performance.
The business case for API adoption
APIs can deliver enormous benefits for your business. You can use them to achieve greater efficiency, develop new products and better serve your end users. APIs for internal use can deliver a huge range of benefits, as well as those used to create products for your customers.
The business case for API adoption often boils down to greater efficiency and greater profitability. Let’s consider some of the benefits that it can deliver with this in mind. If you’re after a more detailed run-through, check out our post on building a business case for APIs.
Enhancing business capabilities and efficiency
Rolling out an API adoption strategy brings with it the potential to unlock revenue through enhanced business capabilities and efficiency. APIs can bring speed, agility and automation to internal processes, creating new value along the way.
Adopting APIs and implementing an API gateway for microservices is an excellent example of this. APIs can support the creation of a highly scalable, performant architecture that grows with your business, giving you the flexibility to swap out services and add new ones into your backend as required.
We can see this in action at Chợ Tốt. The number one C2C marketplace platform in Vietnam, Chợ Tốt is moving towards a full microservice architecture to support its powering of more than a billion views on its platform every month.
APIs can do much to streamline your operations and reduce your costs. Process automation is a key benefit of API adoption, with APIs supporting automated data flows and communication between your different services and applications. By reducing manual requirements, you can not only save time but also minimise the potential for human error, increasing efficiency and result in further time savings.
API adoption is not without cost, but that cost can often be lower than developing customer solutions in-house. APIs mean you can leverage other providers’ APIs to achieve integrations more easily and cost-effectively.
Another factor in the business case for API adoption is how flexible APIs can enable you to be in terms of experimentation and innovation. You can trial new services and even new technologies without having to undertake costly overhauls of your systems each time you want to see if something works.
API adoption enables you to tap into others’ innovations as well. For example, you could integrate a payment gateway API rather than having to build an entire payment processing system of your own.
An API adoption strategy gives you the headroom to get creative – to find new ways of meeting your customers’ needs with new tools, services and functionality. All without disrupting your current operations. This is a great way to stay competitive and keep your business one step ahead of the competition, harnessing the future of API potential.
APIs can support you to get to market faster, as well, further helping you to stay competitive. They enable you to use pre-built components and services when developing new products and features, enhancing your competitive edge.
Successful API adoption examples
Tyk has clients across the globe who have successfully adopted APIs. From clients such as Branch, using full API management for GraphQL in the US, to Sun Energia reaping the time-saving rewards of managing APIs through Tyk in Finland, we support a huge range of use cases.
Tyk’s goal is to enable standout API experiences that empower product teams, platform teams and developers to deliver tangible business outcomes. We do this by making it easy for businesses to adopt APIs, providing an all-in-one solution that takes care of security, performance, monitoring and so much more – the entire API adoption lifecycle. It means you can use Tyk throughout your API journey, adding value every step of the way.
Unlocking API adoption success
Convinced of the benefits of API adoption? Now you’re armed with the knowledge you need to define your goals, plan your adoption and overcome the challenges, it’s time to map out your API strategy. Doing so is a fundamental part of the API adoption process. It’s your roadmap to delivering excellent API experiences while complying with all the security, data privacy and other obligations you need to tick off your list.
Tyk is here to help platform teams architect and build performant, secure API platforms that they can scale, govern and optimise easily. We work with developers who need to create, secure, test and deploy APIs into production, as well as making monitoring, troubleshooting and updating a doddle. If you’re part of a product team, we’ve got your back too.
We can support you to design valuable API products, launch and market them and then analyse value and optimise those products as well. You can chat with our team to find out more or roll up your sleeves and get stuck in with a fully featured free trial.