An API First Strategy

Posted by Cameron Barrie on 17 October
Cameron Barrie

People say a lot of things about taking a mobile first approach to building their digital experiences, “We absolutely need to be mobile first”, “Consider the customer”, “Build for the devices customers are using day in and day out”.

This is short sighted.

There I said it.

Yes, I am an avid fan of mobile devices, of mobile apps and of the entire smart phone ecosystem that we’ve built up in recent years. Bilue was founded on the back of my passion and enthusiasm for building amazing mobile experiences. But it is patently untrue to state that our technological future hangs on this fleeting interest in everything mobile. Limiting yourself to a fixation on the mobile experience above anything else supposes that mobile devices are and always will be the main touch point for the customer.

Mobile apps are the present, they’re what your customers are using now. Today.

You can ask me what the technology of the future will be, but I will not have the answer. Anyone who says otherwise probably has deeper underlying interests of their own. Hear them out, shake their hand, and then make a break for it. Run for the hills.

People said HTML was the future, the Web was the future, Augmented Reality was the future, Virtual Reality was the future and this list of things that weren’t quite what we made them out to be only continues to grow, into the future. No one really knows what the future holds.

When investing in technology, think as long term as you can. Technologies like ‘The Web’ or ‘HTML/CSS’ are all content delivery technologies. They’re great at what they do and they will continue to be great at what they do, and you will need to continue to invest in them, but they’re client side technologies. By and large the popularity of that technology is not defined by, or decided by you. Your users will ultimately decide where they want to interact with you. If they don’t choose to use the Web, then they won’t. If they don’t want to use an iPhone, they won’t.

This is where APIs (Application Programming Interface) come in. APIs enable one piece of software to communicate with another piece of software. APIs are nothing new, they’ve been used to communicate between software systems since writing software began.

APIs come in many flavours, and as you can imagine, engineers have many opinions about what makes a good API. With everything from SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol, BTW, if this is the simple version, I’d hate to think what the complex one looked like), to RESTful (Representational state transfer), then there’s the various opinions on RPC and Hypermedia, XML, JSON, and there’s always the cool new kid on the block GraphQL.

This is a complex landscape, but one that with the right direction, and a proper strategy driving it, really opens up the possibilities of what your business can achieve.

Invest in APIs and you’ll find yourself able to react to the needs of your customers faster than ever before. With a good API Strategy you can serve websites, mobile apps, interface with your partners, vendors & clients, create interfaces for things like Facebook Messenger, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple TV, Chromecast and even a SmartTV or a SmartFridge. When you provide an interface to connect your software to other software, you create a promising opportunity and potential for your business to exploit. If you want a competitive advantage, develop a solid API strategy today. The only known thing about the future of digital technology, is that software talking to other software will be the driving force behind it.

Topics: Mobile, Web, Strategy, API