APIs are Dead, Long Live APIs
Modern, RESTful APIs are not considered standard, table stakes and expected out of any new project, effort, application, system, service or product. It has become so normal to talk about developer interfaces, developer adoption, application development and innovation in the same breath as APIs that a distinct effort to build APIs for a new product or service seems out of place and abnormal. APIs are the defacto standard of app development.
So where do we go from here?
We believe that APIs are about to enter the second growth spurt. APIs will evolve from not just interfaces and integration enablers into the rockets that propel enterprises towards innovation and market dominance. Here are three key trajectories that will lead the next API evolution and revolution.
Innovation – Starts, and Ends with APIs
All modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, ChatBots, Analytics, BlockChain etc. begin and end their stories with APIs. APIs are what enables the communication between front-end user interfaces and the backend technology services. All new machine learning capabilities offered out of the big four tech companies have seen the light of day through APIs. Intent & Sentiment extraction, Topics, Categories, Summarization, Image Recognition, Entity Extraction etc. are all capabilities powered by Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing that is ultimately being delivered as APIs to application developers. Similarly, ChatBots are typically designed to get the user entered text, use an intent API to determine intent and then use a service API to respond to the user conversationally or with a service.
Clouds – Multi-Cloud, Hybrid Cloud
As the big three cloud providers grow their market share and attempt to attract attention, increasingly, enterprises need to think about how they minimize their risk by building in the flexibility to switch their cloud provider if and when they need. In addition, hybrid architectures or a cloud migration underway necessitates flexibility that hides the network and backend complexity behind a facade that remains constant and unchanged with minimal impact on the consuming applications and services. An API-centric architecture ensures the flexibility to switch cloud providers, utilize multiple cloud providers driven by the needs of an app-centric architecture or utilize multiple cloud providers while still maintaining a private data center presence.
Regulation & Compliance
Regulation and Compliance require fast detection and analysis of data and transactions to determine regulation applicability. In addition, depending on the regulatory requirement, certain actions need to be carried out to achieve compliance. The number and type of regulations in every industry will vary and the API layer provides the opportunity to design regulatory compliance into each service at the use case level while not having to modify the backend set of capabilities. As regulations and compliance requirements change, the API layer can be easily adapted.
Driving app development efficiency has a direct impact on an enterprise’s agility and on the risk undertaken with each experiment. The faster an app can be developed reduces the effort and investment required up front which in turn, enables more risk-taking, ideation, iteration, and innovation. APIs offer a huge boost to an enterprise’s ability to innovate by enabling a services ecosystem that, over time, can house all required building blocks that represent the enterprise’s core capabilities, competencies and value proposition. With a complete library available, developers can build new applications swiftly and efficiently. In addition, a new requirement from a customer and user can be addressed even faster with an already available library of services and digital assets. This is in addition to the ability of the enterprise to continuously upgrade their services with no cascading impact on downstream consumers.
Long Live The APIs
APIs have become the standard of enterprise app development. However, the next stages of growth and innovation will see APIs being leveraged heavily. APIs will show up in otherwise, non-obvious efforts and the design of the APIs and ease of use will, ultimately, still be part of the differentiators that will distinguish great applications and services from mediocre ones.