The era of web developers working in isolation behind the scenes is gone. Today, web development and APIs, in particular, are revenue generators, and the API Portal (or developer portal) is, in turn, a revenue generation hub.
The API economy has come leaps and bounds in the past decade. eBay surpassed $1 billion in cumulative Gross Merchandise Bought (GMB) in 2019 through its Buy API. Twilio, a cloud communication API platform, generated $1.76 billion in 2020, a 55% year-over-year growth.
Other notable signs of the growing API economy include Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft and Visa’s acquisition of Plaid. In 2021, Mastercard acquired Ekata—a global identity verification API service—for $850 million.
So what can we learn from this? The importance of APIs cannot be overstated for enterprises today. According to a 2020 Salesforce report, businesses generate 30% of their revenue through API or API-related implementations. The API market is also predicted to grow to 205B by 2023. (Google Search: How big is the API Market) .
You may find yourself asking, do I need an API portal? The short answer to that is ‘yes'. There is a soaring demand for APIs to integrate and connect seamlessly to several applications and analytics software. The need for real-time insights makes APIs a must-have for many organizations today.
APIs have become fundamental parts of several industries’ digital transformation; in fact, chances are that one or more of your operations rely on external APIs or have an API of their own. APIs encompass and connect various markets, applications, organizations, business stakeholders, API developers, and consumers.
At the onset, there was a chasm between the decision-makers, marketers, and developers. This led to many unsuccessful projects and wasted effort because there was no proper communication or plan to build the API. Managing and building APIs is already challenging enough for several developers without worrying about marketing or making important business decisions. Conversely, it was also an even greater challenge for several non-technical people—marketers and business analysts—involved.
API portals streamline the process and workflow between several API stakeholders by improving communication, collaboration, sharing, and development experience. Notably, it provides business and IT a place to engage, discuss, monitor, track, and collaborate around APIs they create.
Who Interacts With An API Portal: Key Stakeholders
Product owners: The product owners gather and present ideas for new API products or features.
Business Analysts: Business analysts work with companies to help them improve their business processes. With easy access to your API portal, they can better evaluate the workflows, spot inefficiencies, and see potential revenue streams.
Marketers and Salespeople: They help promote the API and develop the business strategies for the product. They also recruit partners for the API product.
Digital Transformation Experts: Working in a similar way to business analysts, digital transformation experts are looking for ways to hone a company’s digital experience for employees, clients, and partners. Since your API portal should serve all of the above categories, user-friendliness for a non-technical digital transformation expert is vital.
API developers: Developers are responsible for building, publishing, and maintaining the APIs and their portal.
Developer advocates: They bridge the gap between the developer community and the company.
Technical Writers: Technical writers provide engaging, easy-to-understand content on the API and its usage. They also provide essential content to onboard and get new developers started on the API.
API consumers: Application developers driving today's startup market. These experts are the heart of an ecosystem, driving innovation and empowering disruptive new ideas.
Tracking API Success
You should constantly monitor the effectiveness of your API strategy. A research carried out by Apigee identified a distinctive contrast between successful APIs and unsuccessful ones based on how integral their API success metrics—revenue and consumption metrics— are to them.
What if you already have an API? You need to monitor and track its progress. You should track some of these API metrics: ROI, direct and indirect revenue, and CLTV for every developer. You should also monitor the API traffic and usage metrics to improve your decision on which API method is the most popular. Why is it popular? What location is my API accessed from?
Developers have to be on-hand to suggest changes based on their developer community engagements, churn, NPS, or documentation engagement. Solutions may include adding a new use case for a new programming language, improving some methods, or extending its features. The operations team needs to check and monitor API traffic patterns and other operational metrics like error and uptime and know when new resources or critical changes are needed.
Marketing to Developers
Developers want to build and improve their skills. If your platform has few use cases or outdated with little to no updates, developers will reject your platform. Keep in mind that a developer's marketability depends on the latest technology or skills they acquire.
Developers align themselves with APIs that provide a wide range of support for the most applicable standards. It’s important to know that developers are practical people. Their motivations stem from solving a particular problem, improving efficiency, or helping propel their career forward.
How do API portals solve this problem? The real value to a developer is speed. Access to the original developers through forums and chat makes getting additional information easy. What really makes their journey go faster is when an API Portal is sectioned off into easy to navigate API products, broken out into categories and product lines. This is commonly referred to as Teams, helping the developer find what they need without scrolling through hundreds of poorly named API’s.
Marketing to Business Units
Developers aren’t the only stakeholders that need to be marketed to. Every division in your company needs to understand the business value of integrating APIs into your value chain. However, culture and institutional inertia may be hurdles to the API economy. Pushing the adoption of APIs without clearly defining and articulating the business value of APIs will only create more friction and resistance to the process.
Plus, as processes and operations become less siloed, and cross-team collaboration becomes the norm, understanding the value of APIs is more critical than ever. Productizing APIs can help business units understand their importance. For example, by presenting APIs as products that can help fulfill particular business needs and by sharing successful use cases, companies can showcase APIs from a perspective that’s appealing to each business unit.
Another challenge when it comes to marketing APIs is understanding the tech speak of the original developer. Marketers are never going to read eight to ten different API docs to understand the dependencies for obtaining their needs. Grouping API’s into Products will make it clear to a business analyst that you need to obtain keys for three specific API to unlock the value of the data. On the flip side, grouping API’s into products exposes the business folks to more of your APIs, ultimately leading to revenue scale.
Building a Developer Community
According to Apigee, over 75% of top-quartile companies believe that developer programs and community investments improve their success rate compared to less than 50% of companies in the lower-quartile.
It is no longer enough to build and implement an API. You want to have a community that actively showcases, promotes, and engages with your API products. Say you have an API; one problem you’d face is trying to solve all customer issues on your own. As they say, experience is the best teacher. When you engage and solve issues for your developers, they will be on hand to nurture and help other developers facing similar challenges.
A developer community can be a chat portal, Slack, Discord, and developer forums to engage and interact with each other. Other channels you can use are newsletters and developer blogs. You can also connect and engage with developers through social media or developer advocates. Hackathons, conference booths, and events for your community are also great ways of engaging with developers. You need to look at the different ways to attract, retain, and promote engagement on your API.
How Modern API Portals Bridge The Gap Between Business and IT
Aligning both IT and business units might not prove an easy task, yet the potential of APIs has the power to build a bridge between these two seemingly irreconcilable units. For both teams to collaborate and thrive together, C-suite executives need to drive cultural and organizational adjustments. Without that bridge, the chances of success for your digital transformation process are grim.
Whether your company is just embarking on an API strategy journey or is already pushing out APIs and looking to align stakeholders, measure success, and better engage consumers, Achieve Internet has the tools and the expertise to help you bridge the gap and walk you through the process. With the help of a robust API portal offering like APIBoost, you can build an API portal that supports and manages your APIs and creates an ecosystem that aligns every stakeholder. Find out more about how APIs can support your business here: API Portal Buyer's Guide.