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The rapid rise of Application Programming Interface (API) enabling organizations to leverage each other’s data and services has given rise to new digital ecosystems. The formation of these systems is remarkable for how rapidly they occur, the unlikely partnerships that arise and their ability to transform the key direction of the business.
APIs enable digital ecosystems by allowing those beyond the core organization to work together to scale and innovate. APIs let developers access an organization’s data and services to create use cases beyond what’s doable or even imaginable by the organization itself.
But just having APIs enable access is not enough to keep pace with the dynamics of the digital ecosystem. Rather, success relies on an industrialized set of processes and technologies with a cohesive strategy to deliver and evolve differentiated APIs at the speed and scale to capture new opportunities.
Accenture Technology Labs developed an API Maturity Model that helps identify the stages of the API journey: from just having loosely organized APIs to an industrialized program that thrives in the digital ecosystem.
The stages of API maturity include:
Ad-hoc: Initial API forays often start with ad-hoc API development and use that is siloed within parts of the organization with little to no structure applied to strategy, governance or development.
Organize: Recognizing the business impact of the API in the digital business, an API strategy and business case drives organized API development across key initial deployments to garner excitement and broad organizational buy-in.
Tactical: Scale the initial API successes across the organization where a common effort considers APIs as digital products to establish a foothold in the digital universe.
Critical: APIs are the de-facto model through which integrations occur, including those for mission-critical services supported by a mature API program.
Industrial: Industrialized APIs are the fabric of business operations where the organization expands its digital footprint via its API platform.
When the number of APIs is small and the use cases are well known (as when supporting a few internal apps), an industrialized program may not seem necessary. But as API increases and organizations create more APIs, they will require a more industrialized model to properly measure and deliver success.
The API Maturity Model describes stages and dimensions of the journey, from API enablement to industrialization. As the organization implements increasing levels of maturity, it gains better visibility into available opportunities and changes that need to be made, as well as agility to implement quickly and propagate them to their developer community.
API Industrialization provides the capability for an organization to participate in the digital ecosystem that is both highly connected—linking across a variety of partners—and dynamic—evolving rapidly and unpredictably. APIs are the digital product that unlocks a system based on allowing others to tap into programmability and data—both the direct data and services offered by the API and those enabled by the data and analytics surrounding the access of the API platform.
February 19, 2014
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