Advantages of exposing your API

In today’s cloud computing world, many Product Managers will be faced with the decision of whether to open an API to their users. Open APIs have many advantages, but they also bring significant business challenges. In this post, I describe key benefits and challenges of open APIs, and why Product Managers should treat an open API as its own product instead of as a feature.”
Daniel Elizalde
on Managers Build.

I’m in agreement with Daniel on this concept of productising an open API, whether that’s from the perspective of carriers offering this product to their customers or OSS vendors to carriers to offer to their customers.

Daniel also goes on to quote the following advantages of exposing your API:

  1. An API allows your customers to innovate at their own pace
  2. Having an API enables professional services revenue
  3. With an API, you can build a partner network
  4. Increase your product’s revenue
    1. Charge for access
    2. Improve sales conversion
    3. Sell applications

I’d also add that:

  • It increases the value that your customers gain from your service (eg closer to real-time access to information, the speed of self-service, etc)
  • It increases customer lock-in as they have to develop applications to interface to your APIs
  • Programmatic transfer of data means less data entry problems from transposing data

But importantly, we need to discuss the challenges / pitfalls of introducing an open API as well. We’ll discuss more about these tomorrow.

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