Do you need an API Marketplace?

Key Takeaways

  • An API Marketplace is a place to collect and expose APIs, both internally and externally. 
  • The difference with an API portal is that API marketplaces focus on API products as business interfaces, and they offer features tailored to this goal.
  • API marketplaces can help drive API consumption, tame complexity, promote a business focus for API products, and improve the developer experience.
  • An API Marketplace addresses some very real issues enterprises face when they start to shift their focus to external API adoption, so here are three questions to know if you need one.

What is an API Marketplace?

In its simplest form, an API Marketplace is a place where you collect and expose APIs that you want others to discover and use to interface with your businesses data and processes. Audiences can range from internal developers in different business units, to trusted partners, to third party developers looking to leverage your data in new ways you have never thought of. 

You might immediately think of an API portal… sure you have one of those. But the difference is that while an API portal focuses on the API as a technical interface, and is predominately for internal use cases, the API Marketplace focuses on API products as business interfaces for external use cases.

Marketplaces have features for API product mangers to curate products from multiple lower-level APIs. They also offer discovery, subscription, security, and monetization options to drive revenue (directly or indirectly) from their usage. 

There are two major types of API Marketplaces: Public and Private.

Public marketplaces bring APIs from multiple different providers into one place — a marketplace bazar where you will find “joke of the day” APIs right next to “payment” APIs.

Private marketplaces are sponsored by a single enterprise and offer a totally branded experience designed to drive their digital business initiatives and revenue. 

What problems can an API Marketplace help solve?

Several factors typically trigger a company’s search for an API Marketplace: 

  • Their digital business initiatives depend on their APIs getting wider adoption and use: they shift focus from API production to API consumption 
  • API sprawl and complexity: resulting from a diverse API technology landscape that makes it difficult to find, manage and track all APIs (multiple APIM solutions, API portals, deployment methods) 
  • Emerging role of API product managers: the need to build and drive API products — driven by the line of business, not just IT — that are linked to business outcomes 
  • Developer experience: the realization that to drive adoption, organizations must simplify the developer experience with common documentation, examples, community, and subscription, and start to measure and improve important metrics like time-to-first API call   

Three questions to ask to see if you need an API Marketplace

  1. Is my API program starting to shift to external partners from just internal developers? If yes, you need to start thinking about how you make it easier for these external partners to adopt your APIs. 
  1. Do I worry about how I am going to drive revenue from my APIs? If yes, you need to start tracking usage and linking that to business outcomes with a path to monetization either directly or indirectly. 
  1. Am I at risk because of the growing number of unmanaged APIs in my company? If yes, you need a way of automating discovery and securing API services across your company. 

An API Marketplace is not for every company. But it can help address some very real issues enterprises face when they start to shift their focus to external API adoption.

Putting API Marketplaces to work

Just look at how multinational energy company Engie is leveraging APIs for smarter energy decisions and better customer experiences.

The group started by building a Common Data Hub on Axway’s Amplify API Management Platform: a master portal on which to publish documentation on all APIs across all business units and enable business users to register for access to their chosen APIs.

“Our Common Data Hub enables us to gather, store, and enrich the group’s data, which we then need to share as widely as possible. This challenge inspired us to become an API-First, data-driven enterprise,” said Gérard Guinamand, Chief Data Officer at ENGIE at the time.

With this foundation, Engie is using a marketplace as part of their business strategy:

“Amplify Enterprise Marketplace has the potential to be a game-changer for creating value with APIs and the developer experience,” says Grégory Wolowiec, Chief Technology Officer at ENGIE. “Once finalized, it will bring together a curated set of our API products from across our different business units – including multiple clouds, APIM vendors, and development teams – and clarify the business value of an API product especially by allowing various monetization models.”

Want to learn more? Dive deeper with an on-demand webinar on leveraging API marketplaces to deliver successful business outcomes

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