API Business Models

Apidays Paris Wrap up


“Any API decision is never purely technical or nontechnical.”

What a way for Adyen’s Alexey Akimov to kick off this year’s apidays Paris. Because so much of today was about, as he put it, using API as the language that brings people together. Today focused on bringing more people into the API economy. Which is frankly a theme across tech — if tech is building the future, more people need to be a part of creating it, even across organizations.  And APIs are the impactful backbones of that future.

API success, it seems, is all about building empathy. Airbus has even created an API game to foster discussion, spark innovation and break silos. And Sacem offers an API starter kit to make sure folks know how to create APIs that meet standards.

This starts by making sure engineering leadership really understands the value of APIs, including that it can’t be a governance bottleneck, which means bringing every decision maker to the table, including networking, compliance and security.

Akimov concluded that all API decisions must include:

  1. Regular diverse knowledge 
  2. Fast decisions 
  3. Definition of done

Audience member and product lead for the SAP API Style Guide shared their own best practices for providing a review process between developers and their user assistance developers aka tech writers. It even includes a list of inclusive terms, which we of course love after Shanae Chapman’s apidays London talk on the inclusive developer experience

But it’s not just about your internal API consumers. Gravitee’s Lorie Pisicchio reminded us that we need to use API design first practices to improve all forms of stakeholder communications to enable rapid feedback. Because the more you know about the areas overlapping the tech, the better it is to design the network with security in mind. And, as Lorie reminded us, don’t just focus on API security but the other layers around it.

And this empathy and trust around APIs is about creating consistency, said Axway’s Frank Tagné, who has been attending apidays since 2018, but this event was his first time speaking (we love that!) I loved his rewrite of the common front-end acronym WYSIWYG — What You Specify is What You Get. He spoke about how consistency is key in API governance, which enables reusability, security, and discoverability. And delivering on that is what gives your API consumers that all-important confidence in your API contract.

Another theme from Day Two was a welcome discussion of sustainability. A hopefully growing trend in the API space, reflecting the overall tech industry and, well, the world, is looking at API design for ways to become more sustainable. Yes in terms of tech and business, but also in, as Zeneka’s Adrien Norton put it, shifting from reactive to proactive about the climate crisis. 

If API architects are going to be able to improve their carbon impact, like with all suitability questions, it must be planned at the API design phase. And that means looking to roll back the inconsistent vision for APIs, looking to clean up so-called zombie APIs and servers — with under 6% utilization — and a focus on balancing impact-driven and domain-driven design.

Even Chris Woodruff gave us the first HTTP sustainable error code in 204 which addresses no content success status, which helps you focus on keeping the minimal payload return on your APIs.

If the future is going to be greener, then Mobility as a Service is going to be huge. RATP Group’s Felix Von Perchman talked about how the French transport giant leverages open public transport APIs. They have created an open API ecosystem for the entire public transit authority to steer mobility in a way that favors innovative services around it, particularly around simplifying the open ticket process. 

RATP has categorized various levels of integration:

  • Levels 1 and 2 – Less added value for users beyond centralization of already existing offers
  • Level 3 – Risk of monopolistic players, with objectives not aligned with public interest
  • Level 4 – Can enable the development of private actors who would engage in partnerships with public authorities, if based on sustainable economic models.

That Level 4 is a main point of focus for their success. 

As they look to set the standards for sustainable SaaS services, they have set the following target conditions:

  1. High level of service integration to generate the highest benefits for the users and society
  2. Quick action to support innovation and the transition to greener forms of mobility
  3. Public-private cooperation for the benefit of both users and the environment

Just remember, as Google’s Priya Saxena said, “Technology is moving very fast and we can’t separate one piece from another.” We need to bring all sides to the table.

And as RapidAPI’s Aaron Qayumi said, when no one is still using your APIs, you need to build a better developer experience.

2022 is looking as happy-go-lucky as we all hoped. Let’s work together to take care of each other and our API consumers.

A clear theme for the final day of apidays 2021 was openness. Success in the API economy relies on embracing open APIs and the Open API ecosystem. And it’s about adopting an open mindset. 

Marjukka Niinioja kicked off her analysis of the state of APIs in the data economy by citing that the amount of APIs correlates with ranking on the Global Startup Index. “There is a truth to the power of APIs,” she said, and the more open APIs are part of your strategy, the faster your growth, backed on the ability to co-innovate together. 

As Francois Lasne of Finastra put it “The finance industry is fast and slow.” No truer words spoken as some entities date back hundreds of years while, as Niinioja cited, 20% of the financial market is less than 15 years old. In fact, as Sipios’ Rodolphe Darves-Bornoz shared, there are 5,000 brand-new fintech players — and many are succeeding, taking advantage of Open Banking initiatives.

As Darves-Bornoz highlighted, APIs are at the heart of any innovation strategy. And he split that into two areas:

  • Infrastructure providers – like Visa, Verizon, Orange
  • End client experience – Amazon, Netflix, Spotify

APIs are, of course, how those two sides communicate and connect. And that’s where the value happens, at that connection. As Lasne said, of the 700 fintechs in France alone, “Even if we are one of the biggest ones, we are just part of an ecosystem.” And that ecosystem has to be built around driving value.

Or, as Div Manickam, from our Women in APIs community, eloquently put it, “I always think of APIs of the world are where business and IT come together. It doesn’t matter if you’re a big enterprise or a small startup, you can bring those worlds together with the magic of APIs.”

As Niinioja said, “API-driven cultures are more successful where user-centered design is prevalent.” For success, you have to go deep into your customer ecosystem to see the values you’re giving

Just don’t forget as Alexandre Airvault reminded us, the value of your API can’t be decided by you. Your customers and API consumers will determine that. 

As Alan Glickenhouse said, historically, success with the API ecosystem is about embracing agility in response to customer needs. And remember, APIs are the solution moving forward, not just leaving behind one tech to embrace another. 

“We have to put more things in place to allow more people to do this beyond our highly skilled integration specialists.” Glickenhouse made a crucial point — if the future is driven by API integrations, more people need to be involved in building that future. But thankfully there’s plenty of tooling you’ve learned about at apidays 2021 — and the fantastic API community — to help you do just that!

So how will you embrace Open API in 2022? Tweet your commitment to #apidays!

Jennifer Riggins

Jennifer Riggins

Tech Storyteller | Freelance Writer | Podcast Host | Tech Analyst
Hi! I'm a tech storyteller. Through writing, marketing, and live event and podcast hosting, I bridge the gaps across technology, business and culture. I prioritize highlighting voices marginalized by our industry, so make my life easier and prioritize diversity and inclusion on your stage and in your office if you'd like me to cover your event or organization. Right now I'm "translating" the value of cloud-native infrastructure and mindset, developer experience / DevRel / developer advocacy, SRE / site reliability engineering, progressive delivery, tech ethics, diversity and inclusion, accessibility, APIs, documentation, and DevOps and agile company culture. I am a strong flexible work and diversity, equity and inclusion advocate, and am an anti-racist in training. I'm a New Jersey native who's spent the last decade+ living and working in great European cities — Madrid, Barcelona, and currently London (with U.S. passport, pre-settled status and EU right to work.) A funny af working mom, consummate networker, and ardent advocate (with a lot of work still to do), I'm delighted that my various projects allow me to work from anywhere and to learn and teach new things every day. Not interested in a full-time job nor do I need any leads.

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