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What drives API marketplace success? A strong ecosystem.

Once you’ve decided to move to an API-first architecture model, it’s tempting to jump right in building APIs, selecting an API gateway service, and standing up an API marketplace. That all takes work and delivers progress — up to a point. But, as some companies find out too late, you can pour months into standing up a state-of-the-art composability framework without really getting to ROI. You could even be increasing your tech debt.  

To start solving real business problems, you’ll need more than fingers on the keyboard. You’ll need to start with an API ecosystem in mind.

Envisioning an API ecosystem within your organization 

Your API gateway is middleware, not a complete solution. It’s designed to streamline microservices delivery, running in the background to make work faster, easier, and more secure for API developers. Adding an API marketplace can help, by providing more of a storefront approach to sourcing those connections. But you can’t just build APIs and hope the right people come find them. You’ll need to go beyond the technology layer and design an API ecosystem to derive strategic value from those tools. 

To ensure API gateway or API marketplace platforms reach their full potential, successful organizations put strategy first. As you think about designing a future state API ecosystem to work toward, consider: 

  • What business needs your internal and external customers (API and application developers) are trying to solve 
  • How your current business processes may be helping — or hindering — those objectives 
  • Where you might find opportunities to streamline, remove friction, and accelerate progress 

Shifting the technology mindset from product delivery to customer experience can dramatically elevate ROI from day one by changing the way you prioritize, design, and implement each component of your solution. Your API gateway and API marketplace are utilities; your API ecosystem is how your business culture uses those tools. 

Driving value to your API marketplace 

Moving from a customer experience mindset to effecting real change and boosting the ROI of your API marketplace comes down to processes. A full process audit can help you spot opportunities for growth.  

First, look for processes that currently rely on APIs or on systems ripe for modernization: 

  • Which processes currently rely on APIs? 
  • Which rely on aging or end-of-life legacy systems? 
  • How might the API marketplace support more rapid composability to streamline modernization of those systems? 

Next, consider your current development processes: 

  • How do our developers publish APIs today? 
  • Is the API gateway frictionless, or do developers have to think about it every time? 
  • How do others find and use published APIs? 
  • If others find the API, is it easy to understand how to use it? 
  • Is the API marketplace truly self-service, or do developers waste time hunting details to implement the component?
  • How do we manage the API lifecycle to maximize the value of our API investments?

Then, consider how to use your API ecosystem strategy to level up: 

  • Reduce friction for API providers and consumers 
  • Package API instructions and information in an easily accessible way  
  • Make it easy for users to search for and implement the right API or component for their needs
  • Manage your API lifecycle from creation to retirement

Whether your business is growing or you’re already a global enterprise, once you get your API gateway and marketplace tools implemented and automated in a way that makes sense for your users and the business problems they solve, you’ll start to see results. The turn-key ability to source, consume, and change APIs makes your API marketplace nearly infinitely scalable, and flexible to evolve along with your business. 

Finding the right partner 

For organizations with significant legacy architecture, change comes at a considerable cost. You can’t afford to miss the productivity and efficiency gains that an optimized API marketplace delivers. Whether you need help imagining an API ecosystem or bringing it to life, selecting the right API marketplace or building a custom API gateway, the right partner can bring experience and expertise to get you through the roadblocks.  

Fusion Alliance specializes in full-spectrum digital transformations — helping organizations around the world find the right technology to fit their business needs and evolve their processes to maximize the value of their technology investments.  

Learn more about our approach to building a composable enterprise >> 

About the author

Shawn Chapla

Shawn Chapla is a Consultant at Fusion Alliance in the Technology Practice area, focusing on helping customers accelerate their business through API- and cloud-driven digital transformation. Prior to joining Fusion, he spent more than 40 years delivering technology solutions in the pharmaceutical, defense, and computer systems industries.

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