Internal Strategy Trumping External API Efforts In Many Conversations

I spend many of my days talking to startups, SMB, SME, larger enterprise, institutions, and federal government folk about APIs—if you haven’t heard, its what I do. I’ve become the sort of counselor for the world of APIs, sometimes just listening, but often times giving advice, and sharing random thoughts with a wide variety of characters, who are looking to understand the world of APIs.

One pattern I've been consistently seeing across many of these API sessions, is that questions around internal API strategy are trumping any external or public API questions. These usually discussions start with questions of API design, deployment and management, but then often times move to strategies around internal evangelism, and incentivizing the usage of APIs in general, not just consuming your own internal APIs. Many are recognizing that the path towards being a healthy API provider, involves also being a healthy API consumer—a sort of yin yang of APIs.

I’m realizing that for many of these folks that I speak with, the challenge of selling the concept of APIs internally is often a bigger, and more daunting challenge than designing, developing, managing, and evangelizing an API to partners, or even the public. I think we are underestimating the challenge our friends at larger organizations are facing when they try to get the resources they need to be successful within their own work, let alone also contribute to the overall success of their company, agency, or organization.

I’m finding that many of these conversations only occur because I do not have anything to sell them. Many of the people I talk to are starved for an educated, outside perspective, even before any desire to understand, and learning about the larger API space. If you are an API service provider in the space, this is a layer of the API economy you need to help me with. How do we onboard these folks as they come into the space, and equip them with the tools, information, and yes the services they will need to be successful—yet also understanding that they are just starting on a journey that will take some time, and we all should think critically about when we push our warez on them, or just sit, listen, and provide some valuable advice.