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API-Access Mindset or API-centric Enterprise Mindset

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When crafting an API strategy and proposing API benefits, consider whether your organization is pursuing an API-Access Mindset or and API-centric Enterprise Mindset.  These API approaches are similar to recognized Big SOA / Small SOA or Top-down SOA / Bottoms-up SOA approaches.

API-Access Mindset

Similar to business-driven Small SOA, an API-access approach results in compelling success stories, which encourages further adoption.  RESTful APIs provide an approachable technology platform for teams integrating IT and business capabilities with mobile applications, browser-based JavaScript applications, or machine-to-machine (M2M) shell scripts.

While APIs can advance a SOA strategy, APIs do not have to follow SOA principles (i.e. loose coupling, separation of concerns, service-orientation), and API teams predominantly focus on integration concerns that reinforce capability silos.  API project teams bridge span of control domains and integrate external APIs into project solutions.

API-centric Enterprise Mindset

Rather than focus on IT sharing and re-usability concerns (the SOA focus), API proponents evangelize how teams can redesign their business, increase revenue growth, and retain customers by building an API-centric Enterprise.

API-centric Enterprises move beyond websites and destination ecommerce to embrace decentralization, personalization, contextualization, gamification, and dynamic distribution channels.  Technology trends embracing these concepts include mobile, machine-to-machine, person-to-person, and business-to-developer channels.  In each case, APIs are the connecting glue across distributed solution actors and components.

API-centric Enterprise teams use APIs to swiftly assemble solutions using external and internal building blocks.  Because APIs extend reachability, facilitate consumability, and reduce technical barriers, power business users and developers can rapidly snap together solutions.  Common API building blocks include customer, order, product, logistics, map, email, SMS, weather, or traffic.

In addition to gaining internal productivity benefits, API-centric Enterprise organizations reach more customers and generate greater business activity.  APIs facilitate interconnecting business processes across the extended value chain. Partners, suppliers, distributors, and customers can readily tap into a business capability offered as an API, and increase business interaction over the API channel.

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Published at DZone with permission of Chris Haddad, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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