With today’s distributed, cloud-based systems and rich applications, content and data integration is a must. As organizations enable digitally-powered, multi-touchpoint customer experiences, APIs speed the integrations with back-end systems and decouple them from systems of engagement. In other words, they help you create immersive and engaging customer experiences that are fast, flexible and innovative.
Despite the continued investment by large platform vendors (ex. Oracle, IBM, Adobe) to rationalize their product portfolios, every enterprise will retain some number of legacy systems that provide content and data. And even though organizational siloes are the focus for many (myself included), we can only expect to integrate siloes, not break them down. Not until the CEO steps in to define cross-department objectives and metrics that align teams will we see politics not undermine the vision of a single source of content and data truth.
So, best-of-breed technology ecosystems are likely to remain the reality for some time. Especially as the venture capital community continues to fund innovation in marketing technology driving early adopters to integrate dozens of distinct systems and tools, most of them cloud based. Add Internet of Things and mobile and you have the perfect storm of integration. APIs are then the saving grace of today’s customer experience-obsessed CMOs, ROI-focused CEOs and digital transformation-minded CIOs.
APIs are the silver lining in the world where there are no silver bullets. APIs can enable rich customer experiences, accelerate innovation, streamline dev ops, build new revenue streams and lift product value.
But you won’t create long-term success without keeping the following points in mind:
Don’t Believe the Hype
Just because the marketing and sales team from some technology vendor tells you about their “robust” API, be suspicious and don’t assume it works as promised. One thing is certainly true, not all APIs are created equal. Some APIs expose only a portion of a systems content or data, limiting what you have access to. Make sure you ask question about uptime and performance metrics. Does their API use a CDN?
Think Small to Go Big
Atomize processes and capabilities within an overall microservices architecture. The idea of architecting your solutions as a smaller group of individual interdependent services is becoming increasingly popular and rightfully so. But what happens when some of your services are slow either because they rely on 3rd parties or receive data from a slower legacy system. One advantage to properly architected microservices is the ability to easy scale horizontally. But, that does not help when your data source is the bottleneck. The use of a REST based API for each of your services end-points allows you to fully leverage an API engine.