The Most Important API Layers To Focus on in the Enterprise

As folks turn their attention to artificial intelligence, productivity, and other distractions emerging across our technology dominated worlds, I am taking a moment to assess the areas that I feel confident are the most important API layers to be focusing on when it comes to the enterprise. Depending on your role within the enterprise, at a startup, within venture capital, or other performer in this Broadway musical we call the tech sector, you will see things differently. Even though I work at a well-funded startup, I am always working hard to understand what is happening across all layers of enterprise organizations, and this post is my regular reminder of where I will be focused in 2023.

When it comes to the world of APIs, I am investing in three distinct, but intertwined areas when it comes to API storytelling in 2023:

  • Engineering - Equipping engineers, QA, and other individual who is producing and consuming APIs within the enterprise, providing internal APIs for use within the enterprise to power systems, applications, and integrations. These folks don’t usually care about the big picture and are just focused on getting their work done each day, close the Jira tickets they are responsible for, and keep their jobs and feel somewhat successful in what they are doing.
  • Product - Ensuring that product managers, engineers, technical writers, developer relations, and other individuals who are providing external APIs to partners and the 3rd part developers, helping generate revenue for the enterprise. These folks are looking outwards, engaging with customers to understand what they need, helping deliver, support, and iterate upon the valuable digital resources and capabilities that enterprise are using to move their business forward.
  • Platform - Making sure architects, product managers, engineering managers, and other folks who are focused on enabling the other two groups I’ve mentioned, ensuring that engineering and product are able to deliver consistent, reliable, and high-quality APIs. I’m rolling up platform, center of excellence, security, governance, and other cross-cutting and centralized groups into this bucket, focusing on equipping them with the standards, specifications, and knowledge they need.

There are other areas of concern, but these three layers of the enterprise are the most important aspect of what I do. All three of these areas are interconnected and dependent on each other. These three layers are what is powering business today and are what keep things moving forward in concert. It is easy for people to get too focused internally, as well as externally, depending on where you operate. It is also easy to focus to much on a single technology like Kubernetes, gateways, and other areas when strengthening your platform. I am looking to load-balance across all these areas and understand how much engineering and product depend on having a platform, and just how ubiquitous APIs are to everything that happens.

There are plenty of distractions across the tech sector in any given quarter. I’ve seen trends come and go, and seen enterprise leadership, startups, and VCs shift their focus numerous times over my career. I remember when Wolfram Alpha as going to forever change business just like ChatGPT is going to today. I remember when everything SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, and iPaaS were the priority, just like everything platform is today. I’ve seen VCs ignore important things to focus on Service Mesh, Observability, Microservices, and other meaningful and less than meaningful trends. I’ve seen the money dry-up, come back, and dry-up again. I find comfort and grounding in staying focused on doing APIs well, and I know that while they will regularly fade from popularity, they will always be critical to doing business across the enterprise.