Do Not Try To Service All The Stops Along The API Lifecycle As An API Service Provider
21 Jun 2018
One thing I see a lot from API service providers who are selling their services to the API sector, is that once they find success servicing one stop along the API lifecycle, they often want to service other additional stops. I don’t have a problem with API service providers delivering across multiple stops along the API lifecycle, however I do caution of trying to expand across too many stops, and potentially doing any of them poorly, rather than partnering with other more specialized API service providers to help you focus on what you do best.
I’m a big advocate for encouraging API providers to service one to five stops along the API lifecycle well, and then partner for helping deliver the rest of the stops. I know that all your investors are encouraging to take as many pieces of the puzzle as you possibly can, but there is more money in doing a handful of things really well, over doing many things poorly. Try to be an expert in a handful of specialized areas, over being a generalist. Then make sure your platform is as interoperable as possible, while investing in your partner program to attract the best of breed API service providers to your platform.
This balance between focusing on a handful of stops and partnering is why I emphasize and study common approaches to delivering plugins. All platforms should invest in plugin infrastructure, to allow for extending their reach beyond the stops that a platform services. Feature creep, and platform bloat is a real challenge, especially when you have investors whispering in your ear to keep building, and a very vocal, but often long-tail group of users demanding solutions to their unique problems. Plugin and connector architecture is how you help manage this reality, and provide a relief valve for delivering too many features as part of your platform, while also bringing in potential partners who can help extend what your platforms in a way that allows you to keep doing what you do best.
I see a big push going on from many legacy API service providers, as well as some of the next generation of startups bringing services and tooling to the space. I feel like many people desire a single solution to do everything, but then fail to realize that every platform that has attempted this in the past ends up failing, because you can’t be everything to everyone. I want my API service providers to stick to doing a handful of things well, but then acknowledge that I will also be using several other tools to what get I need accomplished on a daily basis. Ideally all of my tools are interoperable with import and export capabilities, as well as a suite of API driven connectors, and plugins that allow me to keep all of my services and tooling working together in concert. For this reality to occur we all have to resist the temptation to lock our customers in, and put down delusions that we can serve all stops along a modern API lifecycle all by ourselves.