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API Industrialization
Connecting the
Digital Ecosystem
The Digital Ecosystem
The rapid rise of APIs (stands for Application Programming
Interface) as building blocks for allowing organizations to
leverage each other’s data and services has given rise to new
digital ecosystems. The formation of these digital ecosystems
is remarkable in the speed at which they occur, the unlikely
partnerships that arise, and their ability to transform the key
direction of the business.
Consider the case of Nike whose
introduction of FuelBand wearable
technology and associated APIs gather
activity data for users to track their
fitness. Beyond garnering interest from
Nike’s usual athletic community, interest
in leveraging Nike’s data stems from
insurance companies and health care
providers broadening the scope of Nike’s
partner ecosystem. Through FuelBand,
Nike’s transformation from an athletic
apparel company to a data company
paid tangible results increasing market
capitalization from US$17B in 2006 to
$58B in 2013 and earning Nike a “Most
Innovative Company1” title beating out the
likes of Amazon, Square, and Pinterest.
APIs enable the formation of these digital
ecosystems by allowing those beyond the
core organization to work together to
scale and innovate. Through the access
enabled by APIs, developers can access an
organization’s data and services to create
use cases beyond what’s doable or even
imaginable by the organization itself.
For example by leveraging General Motor's
Company (GM) OnStar API that allows
for car owners to track and secure their
vehicles, students at MIT built the Relay
Rides car sharing app that taps into a new
generation of car owners who are willing
to lease out their vehicles for use by others.
Through the OnStar API, the independent
developer ecosystem helps GM build
relationships with consumers both with
helping existing car owners make money
off their existing automobiles and with
getting potential consumers into GM’s cars.
But just having APIs enables access
is not enough to keep pace with the
dynamics of the digital ecosystem, but
rather success relies on an industrialized
set of processes and technologies with a
cohesive strategy to deliver and evolve
differentiated APIs at the speed and scale
needed to capture new opportunities.
API Maturity Model
Based on our experience with implementing API programs,
Accenture Technology Labs developed an API Maturity Model
(Lowest 0 to Most Mature 4) that helps identify the stages of
the API journey: from just having loosely organized APIs to an
industrialized program that thrives in the digital ecosystem.
Leverage this Maturity Model to explore the capabilities an
organization needs to unlock each stage to enable greater
efficiency, agility, and scale.
0.Ad-hoc: Initial API forays often start
with ad-hoc API development and use that
is silo-ed within parts of the organization
with little to no structure applied to
strategy, governance,
or development.
1.Organize: Recognizing the business
impact of the API in the digital business,
an API strategy and business case drives
organized API development across key initial
deployments needed to garner excitement
and broad buy-in within the organization.
2.Tactical: Scale the initial API successes
across the organization where a common
effort considers APIs as digital products
needed to establish a foothold in the
digital ecosystem.
3.Critical: APIs are the de-facto model
through which integrations occur including
those for mission critical services supported
by a mature API program.
4.Industrial: Industrialized APIs are the
fabric of business operations where the
organization expands their footprint in the
digital ecosystem via their API platform.
Because today’s APIs are business level
artifacts, API industrialization factors both
business and technical dimensions across
the maturity model’s stages discussed in
the following.
Strategy and Governance
Development Process
API success starts with strategy recognizing
that today’s APIs are digital products needed
to play in the digital ecosystem. The API
product strategy determines the business
objectives – such as making developers
more efficient and better equipped to
innovate, or presenting a differentiated
API product compared to others – which
ultimately drives all other dimensions.
The industrialized vision is one where
APIs promote reuse and unlock new
use cases beyond what is imagined
at its initial launch, and that requires
that the supporting architecture scales
to keep up. Architecture supports the
terms of service for the API—whether a
program guarantees any SLAs, bundles
all users in a single category, or offers
distinct SLAs that may vary across apps,
users, geographies, and requests.
Considering the API’s role as a digital
product, API design caters to the
consumers – the developers who will
use it. Development of the API product
focuses on combining and transforming
existing backend services to make them
amenable to the consuming developers
and requires its own standardized
processes and tools for development,
testing, deployment, and promotion.
Supporting strategy is governance that
applies a consistent approach for defining,
developing, publishing, supporting, and
deprecating APIs in a manner which is
well-structured and reliable for both API
producers and consumers.
The industrialized journey builds API
strategy and governance into a productbased approach.
1.Organize: For each API, identify both
business and technical stakeholders who
define a vision that drives the objective,
goals, strategy, and tactics.
2.Tactical: Apply the mindset of
API as a product to initial key use
cases. A product manager oversees
the development and release against
strategy-oriented success measures.
3.Critical: Scale the productcentric approach beyond the initial
tactical APIs to towards building a
foundation of APIs through definition
of a roadmap with subsequent launch
cycles and a larger API ecosystem.
4.Industrial: Leverage the reach garnered
by the portfolio of API products to
expand influence in digital ecosystem.
In the industrialized state, API strategy
does not just focus on the uniqueness
of the API as the digital product, but
extends to include the digital ecosystem
of related APIs and the surrounding
metadata around who is accessing
them and for what purposes.
Industrialization moves to fully leverage
the elastic promise of cloud-based
architecture support APIs through
unpredictable demand.
1.Organize: Begin by taking an inventory
the existing APIs and backend services.
Rationalize the backend services often
used as the core services to create
the business level API products.
2.Tactical: Standardize overall architecture
design including the role of the API
gateway for consistent implementation
of security and access patterns.
3.Critical: Guarantee SLAs to
support mission critical business even
while balancing access from other
requests through mechanisms that
include caching, traffic management,
elastic backend architectures.
4.Industrial: Dynamically scale the
same multi-tenant architecture
to support a number of custom
SLAs, versions, and interfaces.
The industrial stage adapts to support
custom SLAs and handle unpredictable
demand. For example, suppose there
is an unexpected surge in API volume:
If the calls seem suspicious, request
re-authentication, mask sensitive fields, or
block access altogether. Or in the case of
legitimate use, there is a choice whether or
not to scale the backend systems to meet
the demand depending on if the traffic
is from test systems or from production
systems. Self-aware architecture contains
logic of what to do and how to do it
Industrialization of API development moves
to a factory approach to drive increased
efficiency through standardization.
1.Organize: Begin with creating standard
development methodology and code
templates (e.g., for adding security, traffic
shaping, transforms) based on initial API
2.Tactical: With the creation of more API
products, formalize standards and start
enforcing across architecture components,
development tools, and documentation.
3.Critical: Centralize best practices
through a library of well-exercised
implementation patterns. Leverage
consistent environment, tools, and
methodology for development, testing,
and release cycles. These standards allow
for introduction of automation testing
and enforcement needed to guarantee
mission critical API implementations.
4.Industrial: Create custom API products
by leveraging configuration, plus modeldriven and automated processes to create,
test, and deploy.
To meet the fast evolving and varied
use cases within the digital ecosystem,
the industrial stage moves away from
coding and instead delivers API products
by mapping and customizing an existing
set of core data and services to meet
requirements. Configuration specifies
how to transform data representations
and what technology interfaces to call.
In this way the industrial API platform
can quickly transform an existing set
of backend and third party data and
services into new API products.
Developer Community
The developer is the kingmaker in realizing
API success: whether for increased
efficiency, fostering innovation, or direct
monetization, a successful API program
needs to be sure the developer is aware of
the offered APIs and how they contribute
to what needs to be done.
Analytics plays a critical role in ensuring
the success of APIs by providing the
necessary insights ranging from assessing
its value to identifying how to best
improve performance. Is it functioning the
way it should? Are people using it in the
way it was designed and intended to be
used? Is it easy-to-use and differentiated
from other APIs?
The industrialized program focuses on
empowering the developer ecosystem that
is ultimately responsible for using the APIs.
1.Organize: Start with setting-up a
developer portal for API consumers to selfservice discover and access API capabilities,
and to communicate with the API team.
2.Tactical: Equip developers with
the common application frameworks,
sample code, testing methodologies to
rapidly create new applications. Foster
innovation by promoting new use cases
along with the best ways to build them.
3.Critical: A developer community
manager nurtures the growth of
the developer base that seeds a
virtuous cycle crowd-sourcing
troubleshooting and innovation.
4.Industrial: Automated community
management nurtures a thriving
developer community.
In the beginning the API program can
leverage individualized management
of developer relationships, but by the
industrial stage needs automated
tools and standard processes to scale
the conversation with the developer
community to communicate changes,
gather feedback, and prioritize updates.
To address these questions, industrialized
API analytics goes beyond traditional
trend and volume reports that only
divulge “what happened” and answers
more mission-critical questions such
as “what is happening” and “why.”
1.Organize: Define at design time
the metrics and measures needed to
quantify success.
2.Tactical: Work out standard cost-benefit
measures along with pervasive end-to-end
instrumentation to capture them.
3.Critical: Integrate API analytics
with other systems like triggering
events for business activity
monitoring and IT automation.
4.Industrial: Leverage predictive models
and visibility from the surrounding
API ecosystem to understand “what
is happening,” “what is expected to
happen,” and “why” so we can handle
any issue early in its lifecycle.
API Industrialization leverages a greater
abundance of data guided by increasingly
automated analytics to pick out relevant
insights. For instance, early detection
of low API volumes, combined with
visibility into whether the problem stems
from IT issues or from confusion due to
poor documentation, allows for more
speedy and effective resolution before
the problem becomes widespread.
Accenture API Management Suite API Maturity Model
SLA modeling
& mgmt
Product launch
Elastic back-end
Product roadmap
Metering &
Strategy & Governance
Caching &
traffic mgmt
Product manager
Automated security
performance testing
Identity &
access mgmt
Development Process
API design
dev. tools
Automated doc
& sample code
Contract customer
support process
Standardized doc
& sample code
Standard code
Static portal
Closed loop
live analytics
Bus. & operational
pattern mining
Adv. Op.-level and
bus-level instrumentation
& reporting
Standard Op.
Op. metrics
Developer Community
architectural stack
mgmt portal
Key use cases
arch design
external code
review & test
evangelist and
community mgr
Industrialized QA
& release process
Success metrics
community Predictive
gateway testing
HA API gateway
Evangelize and
Community Dev.
API ecosystem
Run like a
ic an
Loop Pre
Mission Critical
API Industrialization
When the number of APIs is small and the use cases are
well-known (as when supporting a few internal apps), an
industrialized program may not seem necessary. But quickly as
API use opens up and more APIs are created, organizations will
require a more industrialized model to properly measure and
deliver success.
The API Maturity Model describes stages
and dimensions of the journey from API
enablement to industrialization. As the
organization implements increasing levels
of maturity, it gains better visibility into
available opportunities and changes that
need to be made as well as agility to
quickly implement and propagate them to
their developer community.
and unpredictably. APIs are the digital
product that unlocks an ecosystem
based on allowing others to tap into
programmability and data – both the direct
data and services offered by the API and
those enabled by the data and analytics
surrounding the access of the API platform.
API Industrialization provides the
capability for an organization to play the
digital ecosystem that is both highlyconnected linking across a variety of
partners and dynamic evolving rapidly
For more information,
please contact:
About Accenture
Technology Labs
Teresa Tung
[email protected]
Accenture Technology Labs, the dedicated
technology research and development
(R&D) organization within Accenture, has
been turning technology innovation into
business results for more than 20 years.
Edy Liongosari
[email protected]
Max Furmanov
[email protected]
About Accenture
Accenture is a global management
consulting, technology services and
outsourcing company, with approximately
281,000 people serving clients in
more than 120 countries. Combining
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Accenture collaborates with clients to help
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and governments. The company generated
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fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home
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