Chuck Freedman | Director, Vertical Insights
March 19, 2014

API Perspectives: How valuable APIs are reaching consumer consciousness


Welcome to a new series by Intel’s Chuck Freedman, API Strategist and Director of Vertical Insights, looking at the value of APIs from many perspectives. In this and posts to follow, Chuck will explore how the value APIs deliver appear differently to consumers, developers, partners and others benefitting from APIs.

From word of mouth, to Late Night talk show mentions, to subway ads and billboards on the highway, people are saturated with the message to install or download apps.  Whether it‘s the trendy game of the month, the timely TV companion app, or an essential urban solution like Uber, everyday and non-technical users know attaining apps will unlock experiences. Restaurants promote apps for loyalty. Hotels and airlines promote apps for convenience and rewards. Doctors’ offices promote, and will ultimately prescribe, apps for knowledge.

So many ingredients power the must-have mobile app, but few of the most popular and essential apps are without an element of connection to more content, data or services. Users have come to expect apps deliver them data well beyond what’s just bound to their mobile device.  They also know their branded app isn’t a wide-open channel like a browser -- that touching the trusted bank logo on their phone screen actually gives them a safe bridge to their information stored somewhere else. It delivers the same reliable data they would have seen on the ATM screen, or reviewed in their monthly statement. But now it’s always up-to-date and available real-time.

For many of us working with technology, of course, we maintain a keen sense of how this all works. Most of us know it’s not simply a web page displaying data on a smaller screen, but actually a finely tuned experience, optimally tuned to get personalized content into many hands. Companies that serve APIs are aware of the fairly complex steps taken to expose APIs and rely on key tools to manage their platform. To do this successfully, organizations must be equipped to mediate and manage the flow of their data.

Providing APIs can extend a brand well beyond the limitations of internal resources. Only though API management can organizations properly grant or deny access to 3rd parties, while reporting tools give insight into usage. Requiring partners and open developers to include attribution when they display data, be it a logo or link back to the provider’s site, works to support brand association and quality with content provided through APIs. Policies like these can be established in a platform's terms of service and enforced through routine review of API usage among partners and developers within a platform ecosystem.

As we see momentum pick up and shift to content and data consumption via devices that are not phones or tablets, consumer awareness will increase. Recognition of the source of API-driven content could parallel how most associate their favorite TV shows and reliable news content with networks. Value of brands will continue to grow with the quality of APIs and data they make available to their own apps and across to outside developers and devices.