Posted by: asmitty | July 25, 2009

The API Strategist

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you.

Those words were first uttered by Rakim on the legendary album, I Know You Got Soul. Well, that’s how I feel right now. So while I use the next paragraph to explain my absence, the remainder of this post will go in a familiar direction.

In every workplace there is a culture. I’ve seen a few  and I certainly believe it to be established at the top; leaders reinforce the behavior they expect. If you work in an organization that is based on command and control, with a culture of mistrust, you must watch what you say and who you say it to. Such was the case at my previous employer. When my blog became the subject of several conversations among the C-level, I decided to postpone for a while. Now that my employment with that company has come to an end, I’m ready with new ideas that may lead into a new direction.

Now that I’m unemployed, or rather under-employed because I’m always working on something, I’ve given some thought as to what my next role could be. After years of working in integration and SaaS, I’ve begun to think of myself as an API Strategist. What does this role mean?

I think of the API Strategist as a role that is not beholden to the rules of the web application. It requires broader thinking than a typical product manager – the API is not just a feature or a theme. This person works in tandem with business development and partner enablement. This role also has a seat at the table of the application architecture; ensuring that new features in the application are considered for release in the API (and how). But why an API strategist? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What new value is our API creating?
  • If I needed to see all the companies and applications that consume my API, who would I ask?
  • What cost savings or revenue growth should we expect from deploying an API?
  • What is the API costing us?
  • Is our API (still) cool?

If you don’t know who to ask, maybe you need an API Strategist. If you don’t know why these questions are important, you probably need an API Strategist.

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