API Team Best Practices: Championing Business Value
KPIs, iteration, and monetizationAn API’s first lifecycle ends with iteration and should be accompanied by a maturing ability to communicate the API’s business value and an API roadmap that evolves in response to developer feedback. This process involves several API team competencies:
- Define the right KPIs To turn API consumption data into actionable insights or persuasive measures of the team’s value, the team must define KPIs that connect consumption to revenue, customer growth, or some other core business KPI.
- Manage iteration Once an API has been in the wild with developers for a short period, the team should assess data to plan iterations. Is performance suffering because too many calls are involved? Do developers require additional features to make better use of the API product? If a team is managing its first API and funding has already been secured, the process of addressing these questions might be somewhat straightforward. For more mature programs juggling lifecycles for multiple API products, establishing the right feature backlog processes and development cadence may be crucial
- Consider monetization Many organizations drive adoption by releasing APIs that give developers basic or full functionality at no cost. APIs that allow access to particularly valuable data or functions, however, may be good candidates for monetization.
What’s nextYou might be assembling your organization’s first API team or working to optimize a team that already exists. Either way, a great way to move forward is to identify and scrutinize the characteristics of a project mindset, versus those of a product mindset (see the graphic below). Then, use your understanding of the product mindset to align collaborators, distribute responsibilities, and develop a culture of fast, customer-obsessed iteration.
At many of the most successful companies, leaders throughout the business (and not just technical leaders) understand the value proposition of APIs. However, the API team might struggle to garner the resources it needs, let alone to drive API adoption, if leaders don’t understand and throw strong support behind the team’s efforts. To increase support among leaders, remember the power of KPIs that show how API consumption has impacted customer satisfaction, revenue, or growth.
As your team matures, consider broadening its horizons to new use cases that can unlock new business opportunities. If you’ve been focused on internal APIs that accelerate development of new products, you might expose an API to harness innovation by external developers. Some teams might consider turning API products into a revenue stream and packaging them into monetizable bundles that serve particular developer needs. Virtually all businesses want to move faster.
Most have systems and functions they want to use more efficiently. Many have data full of value just waiting to be unlocked. The vast majority want to accelerate partner participation so they can focus on what they do best while relying on others to help fill go-to-market gaps and provide scale—and so they can better serve their customers. APIs designed, delivered, and managed as products can help with all of these things.
They can make a company’s valuable assets and capabilities available for developer creativity. They can eliminate redundancies and accelerate development. API products can open an organization to new partners and ecosystems. And they can do all of these things fast. The journey starts with getting the first API product on the roadmap.
Whatever path an organization’s APIs take, the point is this: because APIs are increasingly how business gets done, they’ve become a fixture not only in IT conversations, but also in the boardroom. Enterprises that approach APIs strategically—with a product mindset—are poised to thrive in today’s economy.