4 essential components when designing an enterprise-wide API program

Many organizations get stuck with using APIs as “just another integration pattern,” or just the way to modernize the IT estate in a tech-led approach. They often react to regulation and compliance without addressing key digital business drivers and gaining API adoption – which means they’re missing out on innovation and revenue-generating opportunities.

Enterprises need to be organized and strategically aligned in a way that allows for the embedding of API-first culture, practice, and operational API delivery. Here’s a quick checklist of the four essential components of an enterprise-wide API strategy.

Strategic alignment

An API-first culture is one in which business and IT teams collaborate to reimagine business capabilities as sets of working APIs first, before rushing to build digital products and services. This means anticipating, understanding, and satisfying stakeholder needs, as well as mapping key decision-makers and their interrelationships to business drivers and vision. Ultimately, you must balance strategic concerns with a business-led, not a tech-led approach.

Organizational governance

Teams need a high degree of autonomy – without sacrificing governance and guidance of consistent practices. You can balance these concerns by establishing team structures and onboarding practices, then defining program- and team-level KPIs for API delivery. Don’t forget to keep assessing the maturity of these API practices after each API product delivery.

Digital product delivery

APIs should be treated like products – and so should the digital products that are built from APIs. Good API product practices extend from a rigorous understanding of business operations and the business goals that align to the organization’s digital strategy.

A critical part of this is defining and tracking success and performance indicators for your API products. Useful KPIs to measure include adoption, ROI, availability, compliance, or the percentage of the business available as APIs.

Platform enablement

It’s nearly impossible to be effective at any of these steps without investing in API platform technology that allows all ecosystem players to collaborate.

Look for a unified API platform that can:

  • Cater to both internal and external needs

  • Provide ways for both producers and consumers to take advantage of APIs with transparency, availability, and observability

Bonus: drive API adoption with an API marketplace

An API marketplace acts as the front door for API product discovery while driving the self-serve and innovation agenda. One global pharmaceutical company started off by experimenting with APIs within a technology-led team, mainly operating with a data and application integration mindset.

When the company moved to implement API-first practices throughout the organization, one outcome was the provision of a full API marketplace for onboarding of partners in the organization’s ecosystem. These included embedded and external research centers, health authorities and regulators, clinical sites and suppliers, external data providers, direct-to-patients, and pet owners.

Want to learn more about implementing these essential components?

Get started with our three-part guide on how to create an enterprise-wide API program. 



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