In 2016, APIs will march toward ubiquity

More and more organizations will use APIs to connect their businesses with customers and partners

It's this time of the year again, when our industry tries to predict the future -- or rather maybe, to decode what they are seeing and how it translates for the market and users of technology.

My predictions for 2016 will be focused on APIs, probably the hottest concept and technology today. And here is the first one:

In 2016, APIs will be on the march toward ubiquity

Web APIs are not new. Since the formalization of the REST architectural style by Roy Fielding in the first decade of this century, RESTful APIs have been widely adopted. But the first phase of API industrialization has been focused primarily on certain organizations and types of use cases: 

  • Visionary large enterprises with existing channels, using APIs to get data to customers and partners and to make business processes or application functionality available to other applications/delivery mechanisms. In many cases, APIs have been used to refactor existing systems. Examples abound, such as banks (mobile apps), airlines (real-time flight updates), or government (eGov, open data).
  • New players, primarily in the digital economy -- startups and larger -- that based their entire business model on streamlined access to data and backend processes. From the most visible players such as Netflix, Uber or Airbnb to tiny startups, any modern digital business model is based on APIs.

In 2016, we will see a lot more organizations use APIs to connect their businesses with customers and partners using company data, location data, and application logic:

  • Small and Medium Business from the traditional economy -- organizations without access to deep technical expertise -- will digitalize their business through APIs.
  • Lines of Business in larger organizations, driven by citizen developers, will start to provide services to other parts of the company, or to the outside world, by providing APIs.

This move to APIs will continue to be driven by the rapid proliferation of devices: beyond mobile phones, mass market consumers are using smart watches, smart televisions, wearable sensors, and a wide range of other devices to produce and receive information. Web APIs are now the only way to remain agile, to adapt to consumer expectations.

We are now at the beginning of the march toward API ubiquity. The rate of change and the proliferation of APIs are already astounding. Amidst the change, I also see a lot of confusion and a growing need to make it easier for more developers and organizations to take advantage of this API revolution.

I also see a risk for some players to be left behind. Large organizations without an API strategy will see business users publishing APIs without involving IT, at the risk of loosing control. Governance will also become more important than ever.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.