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API Management Is About Awareness And Control Over Our Digital Resources

I’ve been diving into the fundamentals of API management as part of several projects I am working on. I am setting up API management for a single API project, as well as thinking through API management practices across many API implementations in a single industry. I also just had lunch with a friend at an API startup I work with who is looking to invest in me doing some further research and storytelling when it comes to API management. All of this is providing me with a great opportunity to step back and think about API management from the small detailed moving parts, all the way up to the industry, regulatory, and macro levels of managing digital resources online.

API management is the oldest aspect of my research, and one I still think is one of the most critical aspects of doing APIs in my opinion. While there are many features modern API management brings to the table, the core of it is all about allowing consumers to sign up to access some data, content, media, or algorithm. Each consumer receives a set of keys that will identify and allow for their access to be measured, which then allows the owners or stewards of digital resources to develop awareness around who is accessing a resource, and what they are doing with it. Some call it security, others analytics, but I see it about developing an awareness and asserting control over our digital resources.

If you are focused on monetization, API management is about generating revenue. If you are worried about who has access to your digital assets, API management is about security. If you are doing API management right you realize it is about being aware of the digital resources you have, working to make sure they are well defined, and are tuned into your API management dashboard to understand how they are being used (or not used). I feel like this has been one of the shortcomings of an VC led world of API management, is that it became heavily focused on restricting and controlling access, and fixated on generating revenue, leaving a significant amount of opportunity on the table for making sense of the digital resources we all depend on, and maximizing their access, usage, and yes, revenue.

I see more investment in APIs when it comes to startups getting access to resources. I also see heavy investment when it comes to APIs generating new data points (home, auto, wearables, sensors, etc.) However, when it comes to understanding and quantifying the data, content, and algorithms already in use, there just isn’t much investment. Not there isn’t value there. There just isn’t enough value there to attract VC level interest. I feel like the tech sector wants APIs for all the wrong reasons. The reasons that benefit them. The pervasiveness nature of this way of thinking has stagnated companies, organizations, institutions, and government agencies from establishing control over their vital digital resources, developing awareness, and establishing control, using API management.