API Business Models

Business-oriented API products with APIOps Cycles


Marjukka Niinioja is a founding partner at Osaango, a part of The API Collective. In this article, he discusses business-oriented API products with APIOps Cycles.

At Osaango, we’re consulting, coaching, and training in APIs and API business models, anything that helps you realize your business goals with APIs. We work globally with colleagues from other companies in The API Collective.

People who use the APIOps Cycles method have two sets of goals. Either they want to grow business profitably, developing ecosystems and offering API products externally to their customers and partners, or building APIs for an internal purpose of having their own online and hybrid sales channels and monetizing APIs and data in indirect ways instead of directly selling them to their customers and partners. But your goal could be that you want to improve your API and data quality or reuse, or you want to grow and scale up your operations with APIs, and you might need to look into your development speed and quality. To achieve technical goals, business goals, and organizational modernization, you must use methods to work with APIs that help those who need to be involved, talk to each other, and understand how to innovate with APIs and leverage new technologies.

Now, APIs can be used in many different ways. They can be used as a means for integration, or they can be used as API products internally or externally for ecosystem and platform orientation so you can distribute work and resources between teams.

API Strategy

Your API Strategy will depend on the following factors –

  • Product management strategy – Products could be something you develop, or they could be services you offer.
  • Tools and capabilities – Technical capabilities and efficiency.
  • The pace of the business and industry will depend on your goal: cost-saving, revenue generation, etc.
  • Regulations versus innovation

Designing API products collaboratively

We must design API products collaboratively because we need designers, business people, sales partners, management, marketers, and many more. There are tools for designing architecture and different tools for UI design, product design, service design, etc. The APIOps Cycles method was created to address this issue.

APIOps Cycles

APIOps Cycles is an openly licensed method of lean and business-oriented API development. It promotes collaboration and easy and fast methods that enable businesses, products, and technical experts to collaborate and communicate on new API and feature discovery, reuse, and improvements.

It takes things from Lean and DevOps. It’s a cyclic method that you can use to improve how you’re doing your APIs continuously. It tries to combine everything from a customer’s journey in the ecosystem.

In an ecosystem, a customer is important because your APIs could be just a subset of APIs needed to fulfill a full customer journey. When consuming APIs, you might need to pick and choose different APIs from different providers and companies. You might need to combine them to form a very nice customer journey that automates a lot of things for the customer. It must be simple so that the customers don’t feel they’re using a system; everything happens automatically or almost automatically.

With customer journey design, you will have things that make the customer journey good or bad. These are typically called gains or pains. To this, you need to add gains and pains for developers. This can help you develop the ideal APIs and features that would provide those needed features for those touch points so that they provide both developers and end consumers the gains they hope to have and remove the pains they are worried about.

Highlights of the APIOps Cycles method

The method starts with a set of canvases. First, there’s a business model canvas and a value proposition canvas that you should start with. That can expose many APIs that you then take one by one to the business model canvas.

The next set of canvases is about nonfunctional requirements: security, availability, privacy, capacity, and network locations. This helps in designing for regulation, latency, etc.

Then, it goes on to different stages in a cyclic method. You go from steps one to eight to get the APIs you want.

  1. Business first with API Canvas
  2. Mind the developer experience
  3. Minimum viable API architecture
  4. Build APIs
  5. API Audit
  6. Publish API
  7. Monitor, measure, and analyze
  8. Learn and Improve
Marjukka Niinioja

Marjukka Niinioja

Founding Partner at Osaango.com
Niinoja is a co-author of API Economy 101 book. She is also the creator of the free "Introduction to API Economy" course with Tampere University. Niinioja is the “Mother” of the lean, open and business-oriented APIOps Cycles method. Niinioja works as API business consultant, architect, and trainer for companies and public-sector. She has 10+ years of experience with API Economy from retail, energy, ICT, construction and traffic industries, among others. Her team at Osaango Academy work together with universities, public sector and companies. They create courses on how to use APIs, Platforms and Data in business to grow thriving ecosystems.

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