The key feature of digital transformation, which is the base of the API economy, is interconnection, as the ability to combine, mix, aggregate and offer data, products, services and information in a rapid and innovative way.
Once, the information components, or rather, data, products and services, were totally separated from each other, entrusted to different technologies and with a shortened life span. Today, however, the market requires more dynamic value creation than in the past, taking a better advantage of the individual components.
Speaking of management and monetization of corporate software assets, we are today in full API economy: a business model in which Application Programming Interfaces (API), key tools for offering customers advanced digital services, become products and, as such, lead value in economic terms to companies.
APIs are the enabling factor for the transformation of an organization into a platform company capable of making all the data useful for the customer journey, with a clear and intuitive user interface.
For this reason, APIs should, therefore, increasingly be managed as products to be offered to customers and partners. They can be used internally for the development of new services, or be offered with different commercial formulas (on consumption, by subscription) to partner companies or to the public, according to the model called AaaP, or API as a Product.
However, the API economy model requires a precise approach to API Governance.
The challenges for adopting the API as a Product paradigm
If you want to adopt an AaaP model, you need to manage the software assets in such a way that it allows you to:
- track APIs and their use;
- manage access and visibility permissions;
- open APIs to partners securely.
Following this perspective, the management of software assets requires meeting specific needs. Users and their use of the APIs should be tracked with appropriate logs to properly plan the use of resources. In particular, when it comes to users, access and permissions must be managed according to the levels of visibility and necessary use for operators, according to their qualification. Commercial agreements with partners provide for the sharing of APIs on various services, such as billing or e-commerce.
This is where we understand the importance of a correct and advanced API Governance. You can’t build a thriving API ecosystem without including its governance in planning, as Gartner also suggests in its white paper “Mediated APIs: An Essential Application Architecture for Digital Business”. APIs, as Gartner says, are “mediated” when a level of control is added to their use that is not normally necessary. The adoption of a control level allows you to design the governance of the APIs in a virtualized, managed, protected and enriched manner.
The advantages of a correct API Governance
The API governance is therefore essential because it offers companies a number of advantages, both from the business side and from the IT side. Some of these benefits are easy to translate into profitability, others are more qualitative but equally important in structuring an API economy in the company.
Among the advantages we find:
- the reduction of time and costs thanks to a correct management of the API catalog. The easier consultation allows you to know what already exists and therefore what needs to be developed from scratch;
- the reduction of technical complexity and the simplification of monitoring;
- the improvement of workflow and collaboration with internal and external teams, which lead to the easy development of new business activities;
- the implementation of API security policies, made easier by appropriate collaboration.
Build an effective API Governance strategy with the Developer Portal
An API economy strategy, therefore, cannot be separated from a good governance. Building it effectively requires the best possible architecture and the correct alignment between strategy and architecture. A tool that is proving to be decisive is the Developer Portal.
The fundamental guidelines of the architecture provide for centralized management and continuous improvement of the Developer Experience, with a strong investment in quality and correct management of documentation. As we have seen previously, the entire API ecosystem must also be able to distinguish the categories of users: internal, external, with permission and other types. For this, within an effective API Governance strategy, it is necessary to align the Strategy API with the Portal API.
The best solution to meet these needs is the Developer Portal, a reference tool for integration between systems and for the development of new business.
The Developer Portal allows effective management of the API in all contexts where interfaces and modern cloud-native microservices applications are developed. It has a double use, towards internal developers and towards those outside the company: it simplifies the definition and administration of roles (e.g. API Manager, member of the governance team), avoiding the assignment of permissions to every single need. Furthermore, the Developer Portal allows visibility and consultation of the API, making it easier for each further use.
Effective management of IT processes allows the entire software heritage to coexist, reorganizing it so that it can be used by many users and for a large number of activities. There are two main benefits of this approach: business continuity and the ability to maximize software profits.
The rewriting of the software, according to the new paradigms of the API economy, requires a precise API governance, which today can be reached through a specific API Portal. This approach brings the additional advantage of exchanging information among users of the APIs: thanks to the rules of use of each set of APIs, the people who use them gradually find themselves increasing and standardizing their skills, increasing overall productivity.