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APIs are in use, but not to full value

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Organisations are making widespread use of APIs in an effort to support essential elements for success in the application economy – but not all of them have the important capabilities in place to help them achieve comprehensive API success.
In a study commissioned by CA, titled “APIs and the Digital Enterprise: From Operational Efficiency to Digital Disruption”, respondents reported using APIs to build mobile and web applications (76% and 78% respectively), integrate back-office systems (79%), enable third-party developers and incorporate third-party services (74% each). They also cited the customer experience (85%), faster delivery of new apps (84%) and extending digital reach (84%) as the top current and future drivers for using APIs. Those elements all contribute to application economy success.
Despite the widespread use and key business drivers for APIs, few respondents felt they had overcome some top API challenges, ranging from getting the right infrastructure in place and finding the right suppliers, to simply setting strategy and objectives.
“APIs can add tremendous value to a business, but simply having them is not enough,” says Rahim Bhatia, GM: Developer Products at CA Technologies. “Like products, they have to be properly created, managed, monitored and secured or bad things can happen, as we saw in recent connected car incidents or the Snapchat breach two years ago.”
The view that overcoming API challenges is a work in progress is supported by the API Capability Index, a segmentation created based on feedback from 920 IT respondents who participated in this study.
The survey participants were asked if they had 10 API-enabling capabilities in place, which were grouped into four categories: Lifecycle Support, Core Security, Run-time Environment and Operational Management. The responses were assigned a numeric value, scored accordingly and broken into three groups based on how well they were prepared to support APIs – advanced, basic and limited. The global responses were evenly split with 34% advanced and 33% basic and limited.
“One of the most striking findings from this research is the strong correlation between the level of API-enabling capability and the benefits achieved from API-related investments. On average, advanced adopters are two to three times more likely to be citing significant benefits than their peers at the other extreme with limited capability,” says Tony Lock, distinguished analyst at Freeform Dynamics, the firm that conducted the study. “It’s not just about whether you use APIs, but how you implement and manage them.”
For example, when it comes to API business drivers, the study showed 65% of advanced API users have been able to deliver an improved customer experience versus only 25% of limited users.
Similarly, 61% of advanced users have experienced faster delivery of revenue-enhancing apps versus 23% of limited users. And in terms of extending digital reach, which is critical in the app economy, three times as many advanced users as basic users (61% versus 21%) have seen this benefit.