Sasha Kamenetska | Contributor
February 13, 2013

Internal APIs are APIs, Too


To round out my discussion of enterprise API strategy, I want to focus on how enterprise’s can use APIs for internal usage.  I have already discussed how enterprises can benefit from exposing some of their data to the general public as well as customers and partners.  Those are the standard target audiences for API programs. 

Not as much attention is paid to APIs that are internally facing.  That is not so surprising, considering their purpose.  But just because internal APIs don’t get as much notice, does not mean they are any less important to an enterprise. 

Companies have a lot of data that is proprietary and can’t be shared outside its doors.  Whether it is employee social security numbers or the “secret sauce” that sets their product apart from competitors, there is always some information that needs to be protected.  Just because it is protected, however, doesn’t mean that it can’t be made more accessible to those that should have access to it. 

A number of companies have internal API programs that help them become more efficient in aspects such as product development, HR and customer service.  Both The Guardian and USA TODAY have internal API programs that have helped them speed up their app development process.  The Guardian has found that its internal API traffic is about 6-7 times that of its external traffic.  Evernote states that its ratio of internal to external API traffic is 99 to 1.

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has been using its internal only APIs for about year now.  Its program has allowed it to build a few internal apps, including an Olympic ordering app that helped it keep the Olympics well stocked with Coca-Cola products.  CCE is forging ahead with its APIs to make its internal and external processes better. 

Opening up data within an enterprise can create greater efficiency.  Whether its streamlining HR processes or customer service, internal APIs can make a huge difference in a large company. 

Every company has a lot of data.  The key is to figure out which audience is appropriate for each data set, and then open up that data to the correct audience via APIs.  If an enterprise does that, it will see great returns for its brand image, customer satisfaction & retention and internal efficiency.