Top 5 Drivers of Business Disruption in 2017 – #4 APIs

The Revolution in Commercial APIs

An API (Application Programming Interface) is essentially a software programme that enables an information pathway between different applications. APIs are nothing new with Salesforce and eBay allowing access to their APIs way back in the year 2000. Over recent years, adoption of APIs has skyrocketed with an annual spend on these interfaces expected to reach $660 million by 2020.

Recent trends in API technology have seen companies working together to maximise business opportunities. This is a move which is being pushed by government bodies. The European Union, for instance, has decreed that all EU banks must open their APIs by 2018 so third parties can access customer information. Unfortunately, the ever-growing number of personal devices that APIs have to serve is stretching interfaces thin across the ground. This makes them less secure and therefore a target for hackers. Concern over the viability of these interfaces has led organisations like the EU to regulate API use.

In 2017, businesses will continue to use APIs as a product offering in their own right, transforming them into a rewarding business model. Online restaurant booker OpenTable, for example, has developed an open API with transportation giants Uber. When a customer makes a restaurant booking, OpenTable suggests an Uber taxi. This increases the opportunity for companies to make money from customers, whilst at the same time offering relevant services. Establishing an API also opens up a whole new customer-base – the customer’s customers. With growing capabilities and customisation, commercial APIs are now something of a marketing tool, setting some companies above others. Over the course of this year numerous businesses will tap into the API economy, following in the footsteps of OpenTable, Uber and financial API provider Stripe. However, they should be aware of the potential risk of cyberattack and protect their interfaces.

Finding success in the API economy is not a case of simply providing an API. The software needs to be applicable to the product or service and deliver quality to its users. Through open APIs, businesses can enrich their software through third party development and customisation. Third party involvement may also help to safeguard against cyberattacks, which will become all the more common over the course of this year.