APIs are not the latest technological trend, they are the next iteration of the web. In 1998 we were wondering if we should have a website for our business, and in 2018 businesses are realizing they don’t just need to be doing business via their own website, and that all their digital assets need to be available for consumption on any platform, via any type of application. If there is a product, service, data set, document, or any other digital resource already available via your public website, it should also be available via an API for consumption in any other application beyond just your website and mobile applications.
Having all of your digital assets available as simple web APIs, articulated as part of your overall business strategy, and available for integration across internal, partner, and public projects are how you compete across today’s digital landscape. You need all of your products, services, and other digital resources available for use in any known, or potentially unknown application that may come along. If something is available on your website, it should also be available for delivery within a mobile application without much extra work, using simple, security, but self-service web APIs.
If digital resources are already available on your public website it means that they have already made it pass legal and security scrutiny, and offered some benefit to the business, partners, and customers. This is the low hanging fruit of your API discovery, design, and delivery strategy. If there is some data or content living on your website that is displayed in more than a couple of rows via a search, listing, or method, it should also be available as JSON, allowing it to be displayed on another website, within mobile applications, and used as part of other system integrations, training of machine learning models, and other use cases you may not have considered as part of your core business.
Data and content already available on our public websites are where every company, organizations, institution, and government agency should be starting with their API strategy. It represents a potentially high-value opportunity, without a lot of risks. In some cases, you can even scrape data and content effectively, if you cannot secure direct access to databases and other back-end systems. HTML websites were the original way of doing business online, but today it is important that this data and content is also available in a structured, machine-readable way, without the presentation layer of your website or mobile application getting in the way. It is a great place to begin any API journey, starting small, learning more about how to do APIs well, while still investing in the infrastructure you will need to remain competitive in the future.