showing three fingers for three features of API Management
• May 5, 2022

The Three Levels of API Management

There are three ways of looking at API Management: As a pure necessity, a convenience to get the job done better and as a differentiation in the marketplace. In this article we will look at these different motivations to deploy an API Management solution and explain why investing into this capability will eventually benefit a company.

Level 1 – API Management as a Necessity

Nowadays there is no such thing as a closed organization. We communicate with customers day in, day out and this communication has shifted from “also digital” to “primary digital”. Also, the expectations customers have are steadily rising. For example, the demand for 24/7 information on all transactions means that every company eventually must open up.

As a result, every company must deploy APIs if it wants to stay relevant in the marketplace. However, you can not just deploy APIs without any precautions. Organizations need to secure their APIs against attacks and perform authentication and authorization of all resources. The up-time and SLAs of APIs needs to be monitored closely as well. To increase adoption of the APIs, teams need to create complete and concise documentation and specifications for them. All these tasks are summarized under the term API Management. This means that API Management is a necessity for every modern company.

Thinking of API Management as a pure necessity will limit the efforts to a bare minimum. While it gets the job done, this purely focuses on risk mitigation ignoring the chances for process optimization and the generation of business value.

Level 2 – API Management as a Convenience

Doing APIs right is hard. API Management solves these hardships in an automated fashion. Tooling and principles like automated testing and deployments ease the burden on employees. This allows teams to work better and reduce risks on day-to-day operations. While you can do most of these tasks without a dedicated API Management, deploying one is a convenience, that helps to get there faster.

Teams can invest the time freed up by optimizing and automating the processes around API Management into continuous improvement of the APIs themselves. Higher quality APIs result in less errors and less troubleshooting which as a result frees up even more time. Done right, this cycle allows teams to really build out excellence in the field of APIs and API Management, which is a prerequisite to really benefit from APIs.

Level 3 – API Management as a Differentiator

As everyone in the marketplace agrees, companies are increasingly data driven and product led. Companies that adhere to these principles are more successful than those that do not. One of the building blocks to achieve that is the ability to act fast. Change something, inspect the data, identify needed changes, and start the cycle again. The faster you can do this the more successful this strategy will be.

Removing limitations and roadblocks allows teams to move faster. Thus, a good API Management allows teams to use the tools best suited for a task while guaranteeing the level of security and governance companies require. This is true regardless if the API is a public or an internal one. An end-to-end self-service model prevents the introduction of new constraints on the flow of innovation. The resulting high frequency of changes eventually results in a faster time to value. This includes value created by new business models as well as by optimizations to existing processes.

Companies that have mastered the art of designing, documenting, and publishing APIs can create new products fast, with predictable results and with the agility to make needed changes along the way. In other words: excellence in API Management directly maps to an advantage in the marketplace, differentiating companies from their competition.

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