Business Users Do Not Search For API Solutions, They Just Search For Solutions

As I craft stories for my blog I am always working to reach as wide possible audience as I can. It is one of the reasons I write so many stories, because the process helps me refine how I say things, and the words that I use. The process is a double edge sword because I want to reach my more technical audience by using very precise and meaningful terms, but I also want to reach out to a more business focused audience by using other more general and meaningful terms. This is a tough balance to find across any single post, so I tend to mix things up across posts, going down the technical rabbit hole on some, while keeping things high level for my business users on others. Keeping the site reaching as many folks as possible.

Bridging what developers are thinking with what business users are thinking has been one of the sustained missions of API Evangelist since 2010. I’m not always successful in realizing this mission, but I work as hard as possibly I can to help reach business users whenever possible. When I write my posts I try to think about what a business user will be Googling for, and I realize that this will rarely ever contain the phrase application programming interface, or the acronym API. Business users are going to be searching for terms and phrases that match the problems they face, and the solutions they are in need of to make their lives easier. Often times they are unaware that they are looking for an API, a connector, or integration between platforms using APIs—rendering many of the technical concepts us API aware folks depend on useless when actually reaching outside the API echo chamber.

To help me push my word-smithing outside of the realm of API, I wanted to explore some terms and phrases that might resonate with business users when they are googling:

  • Integrations - The integration between two platforms, often referred using the acronym iPaaS.
  • Automation - The automatic movement of data and information across many different platforms.
  • Orchestration - The orchestration and movement of data and information across many different platforms.
  • Synchronization - Keeping one or many platforms in sync when it comes to the data they possess.
  • Aggregation - The aggregation and merging of data and information between many platforms.
  • Syndication - The publishing of data, content, and media from one platform too many distributed locations.
  • Affiliate - Providing commercial access to data, content, media, and other resources for 3rd parties to sell.
  • Connectors - Connecting platforms, systems, and applications together using APIs in a plug and play way.
  • Plugins - Allowing for the extending of development of plugins for existing API-driven platforms.
  • Development - Using APIs for development is common, with APIs abstracted away in the thought.
  • Visualization - Using the data, content, and other information from APIs to drive visualizations.
  • System - A localized or distributed system that a user will be wanted to move data around within.
  • Platform - Targeting a specific platform as part of integration, automation, and up to date with APIs.
  • Application - The end use application being used or developed on top of API resources.
  • Device - Physical devices that are connected to the internet and transmit data to cloud platforms.
  • Workflow - Defining logical processes and flows of information to accomplish specific objectives.
  • Process - Establishing well defined processes that depend on multiple platforms to happen.
  • Sharing - Opening up platforms and systems so that we can share data, content, media, and other resources.
  • Collaboration - Enabling collaboration amongst teams, between companies, and with the public.
  • Productivity - Ensuring that employees and team members are as productive as possible.

These are words that business users will be thinking about instead of the acronym API. They are what APIs enable. Most people do not think API when they are speaking in these terms, but APIs are always right beneath the service delivering the functionality they are seeking. These words represent the API enabled solution that a business user is looking for, but they will usually also be attaching these solutions to a specific resource, most likely one of these top API-driven capabilities.

  • News - Mainstream, financial, and other relevant news being consumed and aggregated.
  • Images - Working with images, photos, icons, screenshots, and other image resources.
  • Videos - Managing the videos, media, and other interactive content using APIs.
  • Spreadsheets - Using spreadsheets as a data source, or getting data into spreadsheets.
  • Order - Managing the ordering of products, services, and other commercial resources.
  • Commerce - General commerce and supply chain integrations and automation.
  • Products - Working with physical or more tangible products that can be purchased.
  • Services - Working with less tangible, often on-going, and abstract services.
  • Shopping Cart - The purchasing of products, services, and other resources. 
  • Projects - Organizing projects and all the related resources that will go along with them.
  • Calendars - Keeping our schedules organized managing individual and shared calendars.
  • Appointments - Managing specific appointments that need to be schedule across calendars.
  • Meetings - Handling all the details and resources associated with specific meetings.
  • Email - Managing emails across all of our personal business accounts and platforms.
  • Messages - Widening the message umbrella to include all the other message that we send and receive.
  • Chats - Keeping the real-time chat messages flowing between all of the platforms and devices we use.
  • Documents - Finding solutions for managing documents, signatures, and other meta data.
  • Storage - Understanding how we store objects, media, and other resources across the cloud.
  • Social - Understanding how to better integrate our social presence across all major platforms.
  • Tasking - Finding solutions for managing the tasks that we need to accomplish across teams.
  • Marketing - Being able to market our products and services to our intended audience.
  • Payments - Keeping track of all of the payments and billing we depend on daily to make our world work.
  • Advertising - Finding innovative solutions to how we operate the advertising for products and services.
  • Support - Being able to successfully support our customers and users via online tooling.

These are the meaningful resources business users depend on. I have many more topics on this list, but these represent the top areas I am tracking on when it comes to API providers and consumers, and are central to integration and aggregation platforms I track on. This list provides the base of word combinations I use throughout my research and storytelling. I’m always looking for more insight into how business users think about the digital solutions they are looking for, and help my content be more discoverable and accessible to these business users. 

I take terms from each of these lists and combine them when I do searches for APIs. I also try to cover API-driven solutions by using various combination of these phrases in my titles and body of posts. One area I need to get better at is providing real world, one or two click solutions for helping people find API-driven solutions in these areas. How do I point users to a Zapier or IFTTT solution, or maybe a Postman Collection that delivers in one of these areas, and realize the solution a business user is looking for. Continuing to build bridges between the API-driven solutions we all work so hard on, but often fall short when it comes to actually reaching the business users who make decisions, and often are closer to the real problem being solved than us developers are.