Opening Up Internal Opportunities Because You Have An API

Some of the best stories I hear as the API Evangelist, are the internal success stories around API efforts. Everyone wants to be the next Twilio success story with their API, but in reality the API use cases that will make the biggest impact, will be the ones within your own organization.

In my story queue I have two stories coming from very different API efforts, but they both have a similar theme regarding APIs starting conversation internally—something that couldn’t have occurred, if they didn’t already have APIs.

Johnson Controls (JCI) / Panoptix
While talking with the Panoptix team last week, they told me about making the rounds within JCI to talk APIs and strategy with other groups, and how they were surprised to learn that another group within JCI not only had heard of the Panoptix API, they had already integrated with it. Apparently the separate group caught wind of what Panoptix was up to and because the API was self service, they registered, began playing with, and found a use for the resources, and integrated into their own operations. A great story of not just internal API usage, but of self-service APIs, and how API can change things within an organization without you even knowing.

City of Philadelphia
I had the pleasure of drinking a beer with head data guy, Mark Headd (@mheadd), for City of Philadelphia last night. As we exchanged war stories he mentioned a city agency that he went to visit to discuss their data resources, and how the conversation had quickly shifted to discussing other available city API resources, that they could put to use in their own operations. While working in the federal government this is one area I see APIs having the biggest impact--inter-agency API usage. In Philly, Marks role is to go around and assess the open data resources of each group, and the potential for deploying APIs, but quickly he is finding that making agencies aware of other agency’s API assets is extremely critical to making things work. Internal API evangelism isn’t just about getting people on board with deploying APIs, it is also about getting internal groups on board with consuming each others APIs.

These are just two short stories that show the power of APIs, and how they can impact your organization internally. These conversations would never have happened if JCI and City of Philadelphia weren’t already deploying APIs. You can’t kickstart this type of innovation with just talk of APIs, you need to have APIs up and running, working in a self-service way, and then you’ll start seeing change in this way.

My number one post of all time on API Evangelist, doing at least 2K page views a month, even after two years, is The Secret to Amazons Success Internal APIs, which talks of Amazon’s own success with the internal usage of APIs. The external usage and effects of APIs is what attracts many businesses and organizations to the world of APIs, but it will be internal usage and effects that makes them stay for a while.