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Happy API Year!

By Alan Glickenhouse posted Wed December 28, 2016 06:19 PM

It’s that time of year when we look back at the year that has passed and ahead to what will come.


As I think back over 2016 it was one of my most exciting years in my 35 year career at IBM.  The interest around the world in all continents (okay, I did not go to Antarctica) and in all industries was incredible.  I met hundreds of people in roles from C-level executives to developers who all wanted to discuss what is going on in the API Economy.


What were the most common questions I was asked?  I’ll narrow it down to three:faq-svg

  • What are people in my industry doing with APIs? What are possible use cases for my business?

  • What are lessons learned / best practices that I can gain from others who have gone before?

  • What is the difference between an API, a Service, and a Microservice?


As the IBM API business strategist it is my job to help customers understand their possible benefits from APIs.  But, I cannot visit every business individually to have this conversation (although the travel industry has been very helpful in letting me try).  To that end I have spent a large part of the year writing.  A paper or blog can help share the information across many companies without the travel.  writing-handIn 2016 I wrote white papers on use cases for the following industries: Banking, P&C Insurance, Retail, Government, Telecommunications and Automotive.  Prior to this I wrote blogs covering over 20 industries and their use cases.  You can find pointers to the blogs here.  More white papers covering more industries are planned for 2017.  I also covered lessons learned in a white paper on Best Practices and a video.  And the last question on positioning of APIs, Services, and Microservices is now celebrating multiple years on the most popular question list.  I have also written and recorded content on the API/Service/Microservice positioning topic (see blog and video).  I am really hoping that we can retire this last question and focus on the more strategic discussions in 2017!


Businesses everywhere have begun their API journey in 2016 and earlier.  According to the latest study by IDC at the end of 2015 the API market size was over $333M and growing at over 56% year to year.  In this same study of the top 5 vendors in market share (covering approximately 65% of the market) IBM was recognized as growing share at 90%, by far the fastest of this group.  Toward the end of 2016 IBM was recognized as a leader in the API market by several analysts (see Analysts Cite IBM API Connect as a Leader).  IBMs significant improvement in the eyes of analysts has caught the attention of many companies who are asking us what we have done to achieve such dramatic growth!  I encourage you to look into this as well.


alan-kay-quoteSo, what will 2017 bring for the API Economy?  There is certainly no reason to think that anything will slow down.  Assuming IDCs observed growth rate continues on an ever increasing market size, a huge number of new businesses will join the API Economy in 2017.  Most of these new entrants will be focused on improving time to market for their business.  They will begin by creating APIs for their own use to speed development of new business offerings from their business.


edison-quoteFor companies who have already begun and achieved the initial value from internal APIs, their attention will start to move external.  Partnering and partner on-boarding to grow market share and market presence should increase in 2017.  More advanced companies will start to experiment with new business models and new revenue opportunities beyond their traditional business domain.  While not all of these will be successful, the fail fast / low cost attributes of APIs make this a less painful experience.  And, there will be successes as well - companies in the industry or outside the industry that disrupt the norm and drive new innovation and take market share.


In the longer term we have predicted cross-industry ecosystems (See the API Economy Journey map) and some of these will have their foundations built in 2017.  Industry standards and regulatory requirements are beginning in many industries and geographies that practically guarantee the growth of APIs as a way companies will interact.  These intercompany interactions through APIs will become “just part of how we do business” in the world wide API economy.


One final thought - I strongly recommend attending Interconnect 2017, March 19 - 23.  This is an opportunity to discuss your plans and hear directly from other businesses about what they are doing with APIs.


I wish you a Happy API Year (or hAPI New Year) in 2017!


To understand more about IBM’s thoughts on the API Economy visit the IBM API Economy website.  IBM API Connect is IBM’s complete foundation to Create, Run, Manage, and Secure APIs.  You can find more information about IBM API Connect at the API Connect website.  And you can also experience a trial version of API Connect.


If you have questions, please let me know.  Connect with me through comments here or via twitter @Arglick to continue the discussion.

1 comment



Wed January 25, 2017 03:58 PM

This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
[…] of slowing down. Additionally, an IDC study published in late 2015 found that the API market reached $333 million in value and projected 56 percent growth year-to-year. The takeaway here is that APIs are thriving, and businesses will only depend on them […]