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How APIs Bridge the Innovation Gap

Sep 08, 2015

Innovation is a buzzword. It might be the buzzword. Every company talks about it. Everybody wants to think they’re being innovative. But the reality is that most organizations are simply too large and status quo thinking is too entrenched for new or seemingly risky ideas to flourish and grow.

So we end up stuck between two incompatible poles: the need to innovate and the inability to do so. The gap seems wide, but APIs are a bridge that connects even the most conservative organization with innovation.

Free the developer

Doing things the old way—large, costly projects that soak up time and money—requires certainty about outcomes. Doing things the new way—using APIs—enables lines of business to experiment with new products. Building prototypes and new products at the presentation layer is much faster, cheaper, and entails lower risk. This means that even organizations struggling with bureaucracy and legacy technology can bring ideas to production faster.

It seems impossible. But, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Of course it’ll be faster to innovate against one architectural layer at a time as compared to attempting to innovate against multiple architectural layers (the old way). By pushing complexity and implementation details behind a façade (an API), the developer is free to innovate against the functionality exposed by the interface without wasting time learning the details of what lies beyond.

Reduce risk while welcoming partners

In addition to reducing complexity, APIs also foster innovation by reducing risk. The API layer protects the backend from the apps that are hitting it. This allows for robust security rules and also prevents well-intentioned but misbehaving apps from wreaking havoc on critical systems.

APIs also boost innovation by enabling people outside of the organization to participate. Imagine being able to give different access rights to different groups of developers. Imagine having complete control over security and traffic, while allowing others to build fantastic apps. No need to create custom projects for every new development partner. This is what innovation looks like in the API world.

To learn more about the strategic significance of APIs and how they enable innovation, read the eBook "APIs for Dummies."

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