Disadvantages of exposing your API

Just like any product, an open API needs a business justification, user personas, clear use cases, a roadmap, a revenue model, a pre- and post-launch plan, and specific needs in the areas of marketing, sales, support, documentation, and security. These needs are completely separate from those of your core product, though they should be strategically consistent. In fact, it’s not unusual for companies to assign a dedicated Technical Product Manager to their API and partner/develop community. Engineering will provide a lot of input, but the overall approach and functionality should be owned by the Product Manager.”
Daniel Elizalde
on Managers Build.

In yesterday’s blog we spoke of the advantages of exposing your OSS APIs to customers. As promised there, today we follow up with some of the disadvantages or pitfalls that should also be considered when exposing your API.

The considerations included by Daniel are:

  1. Realize how different the “Developer persona” is from your existing users. To put it another way, you’ve always considered “User’s Experience (UX)” for your products, but now you also have to consider “Developer’s Experience (DX)”
  2. How will you increase your product’s revenue by building an API? Or more importantly, how will you turn a profit from the API?
  3. Be ready for a significant increase in operating expenses
  4. Here are some of the areas you’ll need to invest in:
    1. Technical documentation
    2. Product marketing
    3. Sales enablement and Sales support
    4. Partner management
    5. Support
    6. Developer community
  5. Security and performance are a must-have
  6. Internally, it can be hard to show progress

Daniel then finishes off with the following comment that is also relevant to those of you considering the development of an OSS API, “Adding an API to your product can bring a significant competitive advantage and increased revenue.  In our connected world and the era of the Internet of Things, not having an API could be the difference between rapid adoption or being left behind by the competition.  But, as alluring as it might be, you need to consider all the challenges ahead and ensure that your company is ready to support this initiative with not only engineering, but with everything it entails across all departments.”

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