Wanted: Shiny, happy APIs (with a business rationale)

Application programming interfaces (APIs) — specifications that allow applications to interoperate — are all the rage. But …”an API strategy is like an open-source strategy — it’ s not a means to itself — it needs to have a real business value,” said MuleSoft founder and CTO Ross Mason, speaking at GigaOM’s Structure Europe.

A ¬†valuable API could drive revenue by enabling new functionality or tap new data sources and surface that information in new or existing applications. “If you know Data.gov, they made public all sorts of sensor data through their APIs,” Mason said. “The government won’t innovate on that data but developers can use that along with other interesting information to drive great new applications.”

APIs need to be managed just like products, said Anant Jhingran, VP of Data for Apigee. “You need to follow the feedback and understand what kinds of business is being driven by it.”

Twilio, an API that enables developers to write telephony-enabled applications, was cited several times as a successful API.

Check out the rest of our Structure Europe 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below.