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Linking to Mobile Consumers Through APIs

The recent purchase of Mashery by Intel and Layer 7 by Computer Associates highlights the importance that APIs (Application Programming Interface) have become in exposing internal corporate services to mobile developers, both corporate and outside. Corporations are beginning to understand that one of the keys to users interacting with their services is through mobile and mobile applications.  A robust, well-crafted and well-documented API is the gateway for a network of developers to begin building mobile apps that engage consumers.  Corporate mobile developers are a scarce commodity and are normally tasked with critical, internal mobile projects. By building out an API, it allows the creativity of outside mobile developers to build unique and engaging mobile applications that draw new customers to a firm’s products and services.  There is the concern by a firm that there could be a loss of control over the firm’s brand by allow third-party development against their services.  The first step in mitigating this concern is the creation of a Terms of Service agreement that all developers who wish to use the firm’s services must abide by in order to receive an authorization key to gain access.
Using software such as Mashery, Layer 7, and Apigee will not automatically create compelling API’s, the onus is still on the developers to craft those APIs but it is a key piece in a firm’s business to consumer (B-to-C) strategy.  This new breed of API management software (also called a Service Delivery Platform) eases the creation and management of developer portals, key and authorization management, metering of service requests and the linkage between the externally-facing service (usually REST-based) and a firm’s internal SOA platform that may contain a significant amount of SOAP-based services.

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Perry Hoekstra

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