APIs Aren’t Just Code. They’re Business Assets. 

by SmartBear on November 30, 2023 4 min read

There are those in the business world who don’t yet fully grasp the significance of strong APIs for their company. It’s not always clear what to say to those people to convince them otherwise.

In a recent discussion, Jason Harmon, the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Stoplight, shared valuable insights into the world of APIs – and their role in the business landscape – that sheds very interesting light on the subject.

This blog covers key takeaways from Jason’s talk, touching on the significance of APIs as products, building strong business relationships, and the importance of documentation.

API as a Product

Jason emphasizes the transformation of APIs from mere technical artifacts to valuable business assets. Drawing on his extensive experience, he highlights the critical role APIs play in today’s digital landscape.

With a background ranging from startups to major companies like PayPal and Expedia Group, he stresses the importance of APIs as products, especially in the context of the API Intersection Podcast, where he engages with leaders and experts in the field.

Understanding the Business Value of APIs

Jason delves into the business value of APIs, citing a study that reveals a 12.7% higher growth rate over a four-year period for companies with APIs as a core product.

This growth underscores the competitive advantage APIs provide, making them essential for modern businesses. He also discusses the concept of a platform from two perspectives. One is from the MIT school of thought, which focuses on modular, distributed architecture. The second is from a marketplace approach, emphasizing macroeconomics and balancing supply and demand.

Recognizing Relationships and Business Alignment

Highlighting the importance of forming strong business relationships through APIs, Jason underscores the need to understand the varied roles of API consumers. Whether they are partners, customers, or internal teams, recognizing these relationships is crucial for building successful APIs.

Moreover, aligning business leaders with the API vision is essential. It helps to avoid common pitfalls, but also ensures the project doesn’t become one of the many “dead APIs by the side of the road.”

A Customer-Centric Approach to API Product Management

Jason’s perspective on API product management takes a holistic view. He emphasizes treating APIs as products, similar to any other offering in a company’s portfolio.

To succeed, it’s crucial to move beyond mere technical considerations and approach API development with a customer-centric mindset. This involves understanding user needs, building use cases, and creating a seamless user experience. All of these are essential to avoid the pitfalls of a poorly designed API.

The Key to Quality

Automation is a central theme in Jason’s discussion, particularly regarding acceptance criteria. He stresses the importance of automating testing processes to ensure the quality of APIs.

By doing so, developers can catch and fix issues before launch, and the automation suite becomes a crucial part of the development lifecycle, reducing the likelihood of recurring problems.

Documentation: The Gateway to API Adoption

Jason goes on to acknowledge the significance of documentation in API product management. He highlights documentation as the user experience for APIs, emphasizing the need for clarity, detail, and a customer-focused approach.

A well-documented API not only facilitates adoption but also serves as a valuable tool for teaching customers, prospects, and partners about the product’s capabilities and use cases.

Help Your Colleagues Learn the True Role of APIs

If you’re in the middle of a software development lifecycle, Jason Harmon’s insights shed light on the evolving role of APIs as business assets and the importance of effective product management.

Whether it’s understanding the business value of APIs, building strong relationships, adopting automated testing practices, or creating comprehensive documentation, the takeaway is clear: successful API management requires a holistic and customer-centric approach.

As APIs continue to play a pivotal role in the digital landscape, embracing these principles is crucial for you to leverage APIs as strategic assets in your business endeavors.

This is just a high-level outline of what Jason had to say. Listen to the full talk and hear him speak for yourself.

Share this post

Stoplight to Join SmartBear!

As a part of SmartBear, we are excited to offer a world-class API solution for all developers' needs.

Learn More
The blog CTA goes here! If you don't need a CTA, make sure you turn the "Show CTA Module" option off.

Take a listen to The API Intersection.

Hear from industry experts about how to use APIs and save time, save money, and grow your business.

Listen Now