How APIs Will Evolve

ScreenCapture at Tue Oct 8 08:27:49 PDT 2013.png

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve built six projects that use APIs from Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Mailchimp and others. These APIs enable me to extract data that I use to analyze this blog and build tools to be more effective.

Once I extract the data from their platforms, no API platform understands why or how I use the data. While web companies measure many things on websites and mobile apps, very few apply the same rigor to APIs.

I believe the simple API will evolve to become an API Hub. An API Hub combines starts with access to an important API and combines access to other APIs with the infrastructure needed to process all that data in one place. An API Hub offers the ability to create something useful.

When I connect to an API today, I request some data (tweets), combine it with some other data (traffic), and then create something useful, whether it’s an automated report (tweets correlation to traffic) or some kind of internal tool (twitter recirculation). A third party server, in my case an Amazon box on Heroku, processes all this data.

An API hub would provide Google an understanding of which data sets API users frequently combine with Google Analytics data, what analyses users perform on Google data and the products that are built using those API features, which could provide insight into Google’s roadmap.

Users would pay for an API hub the way I pay for an Amazon server today to process my data. The API hub could stem the losses incurred from operating APIs by charging for the ongoing compute for analysis.

APIs offer two key value propositions to end customers: data portability (move data to another provider) and data access. But they offer little to the platform serving the API, aside from assuaging customer data portability concerns.

By combining elastic infrastructure and a seamless way of connecting other data sources, an API hub creates strategic insight into customer use cases, informing the roadmap, generating revenue and retaining customers.

08 October 2013

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