Venture Capital Obfuscating The Opportunities For Value Exchange At The API Management Level

p></p>When I talk to government agencies, non-profit organizations, or organizations doing internal APIs I regularly receive pushback about the information I share regarding API management, service composition, rate limiting, access tiers, and the other essential ingredients of the business of APIs. People tell me they aren’t selling access to their APIs, they don’t need to be measuring APIs like publicly available commercial APIs do. They don’t need a free, pro, and other tiers of access, and they won’t be invoicing their consumers like the majority of APIs I showcase from the API universe.

This phenomenon is just one of the many negative side effects of venture capital, and Silicon Valley startups driving the conversation around APIs. Most people can’t even see the value exchange that potentially happens at the API management layer, and only see one way commercial revenue. When in reality API management is all about measuring and developing an awareness of the value exchanged around all of an organizations digital assets. With charging consumers for access just one the many ways in which value exchange can be measured, quantified, and reporting upon, by invoicing the consumer. There are so many other ways in which value can be exchanged, incentivized, measured, and reported upon, but many people have tuned into a single dominant narrative, and are completely unaware there is more than one way of doing things.

Each API request can be recorded at the API management level. Whether it originated internally, from partners, or through public applications. Each resource path, HTTP verb (GET, POST, PUT, PATCH, DELETE), application and end-user token(s) can is recorded. The value generated by ANY API resource, and the exchange with consumers can be measured. Charging for GETs is such a narrow, and unimaginative view of what is possible. Just because many tech startups are interested in charging to GET data, and extracting value by encouraging unrestrained POST, PUT, PATCH, doesn’t mean this is how all API platforms should operate. It doesn’t reflect the value exchange many organizations are looking to facilitate, and honestly can become dangerous if not balanced with healthy privacy, security, and an ethical business model.

Service composition, policies, and analysis at the API management layer is one of the most important areas of API operations that organizations should be investing in and maturing. Not only are some organization I meet not investing heavily in this area, they are completely unaware of the best practices, and solutions provided by the API management tooling they’ve put into place. I blame startup API culture for this. Investors have had a significant amount of control over what API startups present to their customers, thus have controlled the narrative around how you do API management, and deliver the business of your APIs. I’ve had conversations with API management company leadership about measuring value exchange at government agencies, and it was a completely new concept to them. Something they hadn’t ever considered, because they were held capture by this dominant narrative.

I’m hoping with APIs moving more mainstream, and API management being baked into the cloud, we can begin moving beyond the damage that has been done by this narrative. I’m going to be telling more stories about what is possible at the API management layer, and looking for innovative approaches to showcase in my work. Hopefully helping everyone get back to more meaningful value exchange around our digital assets, rather than the one way exploitation that has been occurring for the last decade, creating monsters like Twitter and Facebook, and making venture capital folks wealthier. Allowing us to just get down to doing real business, balanced value exchanges between platforms, developers, and users. Shifting the narrative from one way of doing business that is just a cover for exploitative business models, and extracting as much value as you can with APIs and giving nothing back in return.