The concept of APIs – Application Programming Interface – is not new, but it is forcefully coming back into the limelight for some significant reasons, namely three, in my personal opinion:
1) the growth of open-source projects and the increasingly popular approach to open innovation: open source solutions stem from communities, which means they don’t have a corporate design plan. To ensure these projects ‘work’ and generate the expected benefits, they need to be integrated in the company’s ecosystem (sometimes graphic interfaces are ‘simply’ required to access the features provided by the community). On the open innovation front there is an even more evident need to take action: a ‘connecting layer’ is required where innovative processes (and the results produced) are extended and distributed;
2) the growth and development of Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) has shown some ‘limits’ especially on the front of provision methods (they were mainly created on the basis of an ‘inside-out’ approach: the in-house IT department creates services to be provided outside the company). Instead, APIs support the opposite approach, outside-in’, so companies are able to ‘capture’ innovation available on the market and integrate it into their systems to enable and provide better services;
3) the programming interface is becoming an application in every respect – which explains the transition from the App Economy to the API Economy – and will increasingly drive legacy migration towards more flexible systems.