Hey, what does an API do?

I often talk to people who understand the value of the Apps they use on mobile devices and tablets but don’t quite get where the idea of an API fits in and the value it provides. Let’s relate this to an example we all can identify with:

The concierge example

apis as a concierge
When you stay at a hotel you often find you need some help with access to services so you speak to the Concierge who can easily connect you with the services you seek.
Whether they are available in hotel, like dinner reservations, or beyond the hotel like golf, theater tickets or some other events. Essentially the concierge simplifies your access to services.

APIs to the digital world

apis to the digital world
Now consider an App for your iPhone, the BMW ConnectedDrive app for example. You can see by the variety of menu choices: parking service, connected home, concierge service, music and entertainment, interaction with the car …
BMW developers of the App use APIs to simplify access to services they need; some internal, some external. These are managed by an API platform like Axway API Management.
The API provides easy access to the music profile of the driver, its home connected devices, a hotel booking platform … it also provides a variety of information from BMW’s internal enterprise systems such as closest car dealership, maintenance service or interactions with the car, as explained in this video.

APIs in the context of yesterday and today

This is interesting to see how APIs have evolved over the past decades. APIs were originally vendor specific and just meant to be used by a few specialists. Now, APIs have become a standard way to connect to applications and accelerate time to value.
api evolution


  1. […] APIs are the lifeblood of mobility. They give developers the simplified access to the data and services needed to build amazing apps. In fact, good mobile APIs act as a spur to innovation. Think of them as Lego blocks: the better and more varied the collection of blocks you make available, the better and more creative the objects people build. An enterprise that makes mobile-optimized APIs widely accessible to developers is positioned to make terrific innovation leaps, and at a pace that would never be achievable by top-down planning alone. […]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here