One topic that has been present in numerous discussions lately is just how much work goes into designing, deploying, and managing APIs, as well as around the integration between the growing number of APIs. It keeps coming up in conversations with existing API service providers, as well as internal actors within small business, enterprise, and government API efforts.
When you live and breathe API, it all just makes sense in your head, but as API architects, designers, and believers trying to shepherd forward your API within existing organizations, it will come up against many unanticipated challenges. I have discussed this before with my stories about 75% of your API efforts in the enterprise being cultural and political, not technical, and with a short one on your API strategy providing a glimpse into your company culture. In any API journey, there will always be numerous business, political, and ultimately human obstacles between you and the API success you see in your head, something that takes investment, and access to the right expertise and resources.
In conversations with API tooling and service providers lately, the need to focus more resources on training, development, and, integration services has come up several times. It is good that companies in the space are recognizing the need, and investing in what is needed. Where the imbalance in all of this begins to show up, is that it isn't something these companies are willing to highlight as a core competency on their site, or in my storytelling, because it is viewed as a potential negative with investors. I am guessing that investment in training, development and integration services just isn't trendy enough for VCs.
I get it. Investors want to put their money into the coolest tools, the ones that match all the stories they are hearing. However, I can't help but feel this positioning is creating an imbalance that is preventing some very interesting tools, and API-driven solutions from getting the traction they need in some very real world use cases because they can't properly invest in these areas. If I'm seeing this behavioral adjustment from just a handful of startups, who have valuable API services, and resources, but are still seeking funding and adoption, I'm guessing there is a wider imbalance that I may not be seeing, at companies who haven't opened up to me.
I guess, ultimately I am just asking companies who are embarking on their API journey to invest more in company-wide API literacy training, development, and integration services. I'm also asking API service providers who are selling the valuable tools and services, to make sure and invest in these areas as well (publicly if you can). Then finally, I am asking VC's to loosen up your views on how you see these areas, and understand the potentially negative impact on the API-focused companies in your portfolio, even if they are the next big thing. Personally, I'm betting this whole investment game ends up being like Bitcoin, with each additional block in the chain being a little harder and harder to mine, something that takes incrementally more and more resources, and the companies who have the on-demand training, development, and integration services ready to go, will do well.