If an API exceeds its latency threshold, for example, the monitoring solution should notify operators of the slowdown — hopefully, if the threshold has been established intelligently based on past data, before customers are affected. The problem might be caused by multiple things. A spike in traffic might saturate an API but it could also be that an API has been experiencing systemic problems for months and the trend has only been noticed because a combination of monitoring and analytics established a useful threshold. In a scenario such as this, the process of keeping the APIs, and the business value they support, healthy relies on a union of monitoring and analytics capabilities.
Whether internal or external-facing and whether they already exist or are being built for new use cases, all APIs represent potential sources of leverageable value in terms of data or process, opportunities to improve developer productivity, and surface areas that can make your enterprise either more or less secure.
Many culprits are behind these channel deaths, including a range of macroeconomic factors — but one of the throughlines in the trend, of course, is digital disruption. The way we buy things and consume services in a world of ubiquitous connectivity, proliferating mobile devices, and agile software experiences is different than the way we did those things in the analog days.
Some 25 percent of U.S. households now buy groceries online, for example. Three-fifths of adults under 30 watch TV primarily via streaming. Nearly half of U.S. consumers conduct their finances via digital channels, without visiting brick-and-mortar bank branches. Car buyers may be as likely to get their first impression of a new vehicle via a rideshare experience as through a dealership commercial — and that’s if ridesharing hasn’t deterred would-be buyers from making a purchase.
Well-documented and well-managed APIs provide a consistent interface that allows developers to work with digital assets without having to understand underlying systems complexity. This dramatically reduces the specific expertise required to build innovative new applications and consequently opens up opportunities for more developers to do more, faster. APIs are not just a kind of integration technology — they’re products that empower developers.
As new digital technologies have gained mass adoption, the landscape has changed. Mobile apps, cashless systems, and many other advances have changed the stakes, relatively quickly — just look at the number of branches closing as more customers do their banking on-the-go in purely digital environments.
As mentioned, companies do not arrive at a “digitally transformed” state. The necessity of reinvention never goes away. The troublingly large number of executives who evidently think otherwise are thinking like sprinters when they’re actually competing in the world’s most complex and interminable marathon.
Put another way, in the past, customers of a bank could only expect the bank and its immediate partners to offer useful financial services using a customer’s personal information. Now, those apps can come from a much wider range of developers, increasing the likelihood of new innovations to help people manage their finances.
Some companies offer free, open APIs in an attempt to build developer communities around their brand and unlock ecosystem opportunities by adding partners at scale. In other cases, the API provides access to data or functions that are so valuable, the API can be monetized and even create new lines of business. How does an enterprise know which path to pursue?