I stated a few months ago that “data is the new currency” and that “the API layer will be the core around which every successful enterprise digital strategy is based.” Fast-forward to today: two moves this week prove that Intel and CA Technologies agree and are betting heavily on this strategy with acquisitions of Mashery and Layer 7. This will not be the end of the acquisition spree in this space; I’m sure we’ll see more API management companies (and a few BaaS companies) get gobbled up soon. If you’re currently implementing or planning a mobile strategy in your enterprise, what does this mean for you?

  • Understand the value of APIs for both consuming and producing data. Data is the new currency, and you have a mint within your corporate walls. The best banks have moved to a digital interface to transact currency and have made these transactions easy. Your challenge is to do the same with your data. Understand that mobile apps consume data differently than the desktop web apps of old, using different protocols at a different granularity. Plan for this change now by creating an easily consumable API layer for your services that is flexible based on the channel presenting this data. This change doesn't stop here, as new channels such as Google Glass arrive. Similarly, your enterprise mobile apps will need to interact with third-party data. Understand these interaction models, how best to incorporate both internal and external data, and the security implications of doing so in the mobile world. Previously, I touched on a new engagement architecture that will better enable this process.
  • APIs are the touchpoint; libraries drive value. All the noise this week is around APIs. If you want to drive real value, make the consumption of the data through these APIs as easy as possible: create a development library. The BaaS players (that’s back end-as-a-service, not John Paul Jones) know this well and make mobile development easier by providing native and web libraries which can be used to consume these services. Providing a service with heavy competition? Making your service easier to consume may be the deciding factor in who wins that market.
  • This requires new development skills. Having an API layer makes your back-end services more consumable but doesn’t solve the new problem that is looming: scalability and performance. Your development teams should become conversant in event-driven architectures and protocols, as well as both front- and back-end JavaScript. We’re seeing large-scale success driven by those that make proper use of technologies such as NGINX and node.js. Understand the business challenges that these solve and be prepared to deploy when needed. Lack of preparation here may lead to your website or mobile app being unavailable just when your customers need it most.

Thoughts? Hit me up at @ASocialFace on Twitter. I’m looking forward to what comes next.