The API economy isn’t just hot air
It is finally happening. After ten years of prophecies, preaching, and product launches, the API economy has crossed the chasm. And it’s happening worldwide.
In the past three months, I’ve had the privilege of visiting three different continents and five different time zones to meet with all sorts of organizations who are implementing APIs. My trek started in Texas, where I delivered the first official MuleSoft API Program Workshop to a customer in Austin. In Dallas, I was fascinated to learn from the Boy Scouts of America that they had opened up their membership validation and training APIs internally to allow developers in their community build applications around event registration for local chapters.
My first stop in September was Sydney, Australia, where I had the pleasure of presenting at MuleSoft CONNECT. While there, I met with private and public sector organizations in the energy and utilities sector, all of whom are using APIs as the conduit to new digital business opportunities and operational optimizations. After that, it was a hectic three days in New York for another standing room only CONNECT event. Of the many meetings there, I was particularly struck by two insurance companies I met with. Insurance has always been a data-driven industry, and the opportunities to innovate with API-enabled digital solutions abound. Both organizations have strong leaders with compelling ideas, but in both cases they face the organizational inertia that comes with decades of business success. I look forward to helping them progress in their transformations as they execute their respective API programs.
A world of APIs inside one company
October began in London, where I met with one of the leading financial services organizations in the world. It was interesting to see how an organization of that size could cover the full spectrum of API opportunities. In their retail banking division, they are taking an organic, API-led approach with the aim of platformizing their internal business capabilities and driving agility and improved velocity in their solution delivery. On the commercial side, they have done a superb job defining their APIs as products for external consumption, and are actively engaging their ecosystem of stakeholders through consumer-minded tools and information. This diversity of strategies even within a single company is exactly why MuleSoft’s API Strategy Blueprint delineates four focus areas and encourages following a tailored path.
I returned home to Vancouver in time to deliver one of the first two MuleSoft API Strategy Workshops (my colleague Niket Mohey was delivering the other in Palo Alto at exactly the same time). The API innovation opportunities generated by attendees were exciting. The following week, I had the good fortune of speaking at the API Specifications Conference in my hometown, and the opportunity to learn from an incredible collection of API experts who had gathered here. My last stop in October was Atlanta, where I delivered my second API Strategy Workshop to an even bigger audience, who came up with a set of API business ideas that were different from the ones brainstormed by the Vancouver group, but equally intriguing.
An API travelogue
Here are my top three takeaways from all these travels:
- No matter how much those of us insiders think the world has become accustomed to APIs, the number of unfulfilled API opportunities out there still exceeds the number that have been achieved. This lesson gives me energy and inspiration.
- There is an API opportunity for every industry, and every organization in every industry, but the opportunity is not the API itself. Starting with a business vision or organizational mission and seeing how APIs can support it is always the best approach. This lesson is the central theme of MuleSoft’s API Strategy point of view.
- Although the ideas and opportunities are the right starting point, the hardest part for most enterprises is getting in motion. Static friction is greater than kinetic friction in API programs just as it is in physics. This lesson validates the incremental approach we promote in our API Program Workshops.
I have one final trip in 2019. I will be heading to San Francisco the week of Nov. 18-22 to present an introduction to API Strategy four times at Dreamforce, and will be meeting with at least ten different organizations one-on-one. After the phenomenal experience of my round the world travels, I am excited to see what else I will learn while I’m there. If you’ll be attending Dreamforce and would like to attend one of these sessions, bookmark one of the sessions listed here. If you’re there, I hope to meet with you too!