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Why APIs? Anatomy of a Customer API Initiative

Brian Mulloy
May 31, 2012

In this short series to explore different API strategies, we've looked at the characteristics and examples of  Internal and Partner API Initiatives, which are often the first and second stages of a company's API strategy.

The Customer API initiative is mostly used in one of two scenarios. The first is when offering software as a service (SaaS). (Look at Salesforce as an example where customers demand an API.) The second is when the customer of your business is another business (a B2B scenario).

Here we look at a few scenarios for the Customer API initiative.


The innovation use case comes into play when a customer has an idea for something they want to do with your existing feature set. Without an API they have only what’s available out of the box. With an API, someone at the other company can use the API to create innovative apps. A great example of this is salesforce.com and their force.com offering which is a platform that can be fully extended with APIs and run-time components.


Integration is a well-known and common scenario that has been approached with different technologies for years. It’s about keeping data synchronized between your business and your customers’ businesses, facilitating business process integration between companies, and so on.

Batch kick start

This use case describes a scenario in which a business has signed a new user or customer and there’s now a new batch of information and user data that needs to be available in that business’ system from the customer. Providing an API to allow customer to write that data to your system is very effective.

Next time, we’ll finish our summary of the various flavors of API initiative we see deployed by looking at an Open API initiative.


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