Collaborative Governance Will Be The Driver of The API Economy by@darshanshivashankar

Collaborative Governance Will Be The Driver of The API Economy

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Darshan Shivashankar

Founder of Itorix Inc and its product Apiwiz, a Low-code APIOps platform that simplifies API Lifecycle Management.

I will not break down what collaborative governance is – API decisions made individually with a shared understanding of a system developed collaboratively – or why you should be governing your APIs. That would be like telling you that global warming is happening or that fossil fuels are running out.

Tech professionals and developers have heard this term a thousand times; the whole concept of DevOps is based on collaborative governance. But now, businesses want to modernize the way they govern APIs and fix their current traditional API management tools through automation and integrated platforms, all to avoid bottlenecks and overwhelming tool stacks with vast resource investments. Let’s see how.

Undesirable API Design: The Dire State of the Situation

When I joined T-Mobile in 2015, I designed and implemented internal and external facing APIs. Exposed to a vast disconnect between the benefits of emerging technology and how people embrace it, I realized good API management spans a broad spectrum of concerns, and making any decisions requires coordination between many different teams.

I found it shocking that every company wants to build a seamless experience for customers at a mobile store or digital bank. But internally, their API teams face disjointed communication, with no view of what other departments are doing. Enterprises aspire to give developers autonomy to build and release APIs quickly, but they still expect them to wait in endless “queues” to get approvals on newly-designed tools.

I’ve heard of companies having all the necessary funding and trying every platform and tool under the sun to build an API developer portal and market their APIs, but they still haven’t had success. And I’ve realized why. While speaking to a fintech leader about designing their APIs, he said that each of his developers was using their own tools to design, build, and deploy APIs – and they were facing 1000 bottlenecks along the way, slowing down decision-making and feature releases.

So, how are you designing your APIs? Do you relate to these critical issues:

  • Low business agility

  • Poor code performance

  • Slower release times

  • No reusability

  • Less visibility and transparency

  • Unreliable version control

A way to streamline these processes and encourage collaboration is through platform-driven governance – a shared brain but a decentralized system. If all the actors – product owners, developers, analysts, or operation professionals – worked through a platform that automatically enforced collaborative governance, business agility would be restored.

The Evolving API Landscape

Before digital transformation skyrocketed as a response to the pandemic, in 2018, Stripe predicted that developers were losing nearly $300bn in productivity every year.

In 2022, there’s an increased pressure to accelerate time-to-market, and enterprises have to navigate distributed environments (on-premise and multi-clouds). Enterprises want to leverage the newest technologies, but they struggle with these developments in the industry that lead to further API complexity and sprawl.

Now, with over 200 million APIs in use, developers are spending their time on code maintenance and fixing bugs in the system more than ever. The number of API developers needed for an average enterprise is ludicrous. If we look at Starbucks or TMobile, the number is quickly close to 400 people with enterprise architects, product owners, and business analysts. The sheer number of people needed to build efficient, sustainable API programs are not available due to a tech skill shortage, so manually building, managing, operating, and running APIs is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Most companies with API programs don’t have advanced API management tools, and they can only do a couple of releases a year from inception to production. Collaborative governance, with an automated platform, is the future to plug the gap from a business standpoint and help them get to market quicker and faster. A whole team would understand how APIs mature and prepare responses for the varying requirements.

44% of organizations are already implementing automation initiatives to create better-connected experiences. This will assure consistency and oversight and allow employees to be more autonomous by moving away from a centralized command-and-control model, which demands approvals and causes slowdowns.

You Can’t Have Everyone in a War Room

When Facebook and Whatsapp, with around 68,000 employees, went down due to a cascade of mistakes during maintenance in October 2021, that really was a war room situation that involved all hands on deck. But this cannot be an everyday scenario, even though it often is. For enterprises to be profitable, developers need to be focused, not constantly fixing issues.

Collaborative governance democratizes the API building process as anybody in a team should be able to build, manage, and maintain APIs. Add a low-code, results-driven platform or AI-assisted development tools to the mix, and developers won’t always need to learn about new tools and technologies from scratch or interact with multiple parties.

Through centralizing ownership using version-controlled configuration, enterprises can avoid the disruption caused by manual errors or configuration changes and enable reusability. Time to production is also reduced due to continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD).

Bugs can be easily fixed without pulling in an entire team, resulting in greater savings, productivity, flexibility, and scalability. It is the equivalent of what I would call a “no-look pass” in football. You should be able to make a move knowing your teammate will be there, even if you are not facing them.

If you want to run a data-driven enterprise and monetize your APIs safely in 2022, you must have an overview of the entire API lifecycle and shorten the production cycle of APIs through collaborative governance.

This will be even more achievable for everyone by 2024 when 80% of technology products and services will be built by people who are not technology professionals.

By Darshan Shivashankar, CEO and Founder at Apiwiz.