With APIs In Your Company, Start Small And Read API Evangelist
I thoroughly enjoy the assortment of emails, LinkedIn messages and phone calls I get from people in the SMB and enterprise, letting me know the role my blog plays in them starting, cultivating and evolving their own API initiatives.
I received once such call this week, from an unnamed individual, at an unnamed company, letting me know the role API Evangelist played in providing the information they needed to find success. Like many other companies who reach out to me, their efforts aren't to the point where they feel comfortable telling stories publicly, so I'm happy to keep anonymous, until they are ready.
The stories that come out of these companies are all very similar. The API initiatives were started by single person, or small group of passionate individuals who start small, find safe and sensible wins, while keeping risk and failures to a minimum. They start with data and resources that are not mission critical, but still offer value to either internal, partner or public developers.
These innovators usually start with a handful of trusted partners, keeping the experimentation very controlled in a safe environment, before opening up to a wider base of partners, and then when ready, to a self-service public audience. This approach allows API innovators to find small successes and report these wins to business leaders and stakeholders, before moving forward with other efforts.
Taking this approach in small, iterative cycles, providing decision makers with the necessary reporting and education, allows for you to slowly change internal culture. API change does not happen overnight, and it is easy to fail if you try to go big in companies who aren't quite ready.
I can't get enough of these stories, I can't wait until these program mature, where I can tell them publicly on the blog. Until then, remember that when you are starting with a brand new API initiative within your company, start small, find success, minimize risk, repeat and tell stories of your efforts to everyone you can. You will be surprised what can happen in six months to a year, with the right environment you can find your culture changing and becoming much more open to API experimentation.