While "plastics" was the advice given to Dustin Hoffman for business success in the 1967 film The Graduate, the current hottest business prospect would be the three letter acronym API.
Since the first Web-based application programming interface (API) was launched in 2001 by eBay to help sellers list and relist items, APIs have transitioned into the digital glue creating new businesses, partnerships, and software applications. By some accounts, that glue is due to turn the mobile API space alone into a $25 billion business by 2015.
The secrets of unlocking the API economy will be the focus of an upcoming keynote panel at this year's E2 Innovate conference scheduled for November 12-15 in Santa Clara, Calif. The panel, moderated by Programmableweb CEO and founder John Musser, will include Sam Ramji, VP of strategy for Apigee, Daniel Jacobson, director of engineering for Netflix, and Javaun Moradi, product manager for NPR.
"Before long, APIs will be the table stakes for companies to operate in an ever increasingly mobile and connected economy," said Musser.
APIs, which have been around in one form or another since developers first wanted software programs to communicate, have become a fast, simple, and effective way for organizations to connect their internal applications, connect with their partners, suppliers, and increasingly with customers and the public at large. APIs are the building blocks of most modern "mash-up" applications that, for instance, merge weather data, census data, inventory data, and customer data to offer a sale on snow shovels and winter boots in advance of an approaching winter storm.
"Without APIs, there would be no cloud services," said Musser, who also noted that the rise of the mobile Web, with its myriad devices accessing data, is a major driver of the API economy.
For CEOs and CIOs anxious not to be left out of the rise of the API economy and risk being left isolated from their better-connected competitors, Musser offers a three-stage approach to understanding the API world. First, utilize the API model internally to connect existing operations with additional services. Second, use that basic API knowledge to expand to supplier and partner operations. Third--and this is where the big economic benefits start to accrue--connect to the public on as grand a scale as Google makes its mapping software available, or on the smaller scale of a local restaurant showing what's new on the menu.
"Security, privacy, and compliance are as important in the API world as anywhere else," said Musser. The security best practices that should be part of any enterprise application development have to be transferred to the API-oriented application developments.
The goal of the panel is to shine a bit of light on what are the best API approaches from a business strategy perspective and how to generate business value from APIs, said Musser.