API Driven Adaptive Architecture for The Post Covid Business Agility
The shift to digital business models during the pandemic has only added urgency to the need for agility and adaptive software architecture. There have been multiple names assigned to this architecture – headless, MACH (Microservices, API Cloud enabled Headless). The core underlying need is to encapsulate the business rules, data management, application infrastructure from the customer experience.
This API based model has the biggest impact for industries going through the digital transformation and elevating the customer experience. Retail, Banking, Insurance are some of the industries that can reap the benefit of this adaptive architecture. While the APIs are not new, the convergence of Cloud, Mobile and Open source technologies are accelerating the development and adoption of the APIs.
Coach brand - To create a faster, more frictionless shopping experience we knew we needed to converge the physical with the digital capabilities. We have tried native mobile apps in the past, with limited success. We decided to create progressive web apps (PWAs) + APIs that would allow the customers with instant access to product, price, promotions, product availability, personalized recommendations and membership signup using QR codes and smartphone’s camera without downloading a native app.
The keys for successful adoption of APIs:
1. Customer centric API first product mindset
2. Progress over perfection
3. Invest in tools and training
4. Leverage third party/partner system APIs before building your own
Customer centric API first product mindset
The API first product mindset means that the capabilities need to thought as a product used by other applications or developers. The decisions on the API should be data-driven, avoid making presumptions about customers, and considers both the API developers and the end users those developers serve. The product mindset also means that the API is bound to change and the design philosophy should be ‘Build to Adapt’. I n large enterprises, dedicated API product team would drive the roadmap for each API and drive the governance and delivery.
Investments in key tools related to API management are required to accelerate the development of the APIs as well as the usage of the APIs by internal and external users of the enterprise.
Progress over Perfection
It is easy to get overwhelmed at the scope of enabling APIs and modularizing applications into microservices. What has worked for me is to think about the big picture, envision the desired outcomes, but start small. It is critical to start small, test and learn, iterate before scaling at a rapid pace. This is also a critical mindset shift to focus on incremental progress iteratively over getting to perfection in a big bang with a long development lifecycle.
The proliferation of APIs within the enterprise would enable the internal and external teams to innovate faster, connect the dots, experiment with new capabilities and experiences without a major investment of time and resources.
Do not reinvent the wheel
The API driven economy has grown significantly over the last few years. It is likely that someone has already built an API that you are looking to build. In the spirit of not re-inventing the wheel, look for API market places, third party APIs, partner system APIs before building your own API.