Minimum Viable API Service Provider Blueprint
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There are some pretty good examples (in my opinion), of well defined API service providers across the API landscape right now– companies, who are selling services specifically to API providers. You know how you can tell a good provider? They do one thing, or just a handful of things well, it is well presented, and they also have an API — who woulda thought that? Companies selling services to API providers should also do so via an API!
I am most definitely biased in showcase these companies, but a couple examples of this in action can be found with APIMATIC, Runscope, 3Scale, SecureDB, and API Scrience. These are all companies that I support, but I support them because they offer valuable services to companies who are operating APIs, and they do it in a simple, well thought out way, complete with an API.
When you are crafting the strategy for the API service provider you would like to launch, here are my recommendations of what you should be including:
- Website – Simple, modern, and informative website for your customers to discover, and on-board with the services you offer.
- Twitter – Have a genuine, active Twitter account that actually engages in conversations with community.
- Github – Establish an active, and meaningful Github presence via user account or organization, and make it your open work bench.
- Blog – Provide a thoughtful, active, and informative blog to comunicate with the community, your customers, and the public.
- API – If you are selling APIs to API providers, you need to make sure and be drinking the kool-aid with an API of your own.
- SaaS – Follow the principles of software as a service. I do not want to deal with old ways of purchasing and licensing software.
- Pricing – Offer tiered pricing, so that we can kick the tires, and small companies (or groups) like myself can actually afford what you are offering.
- Support – Make sure you are there to support me as an API service provider–I am depending on you to scale my business.
Of course there are many other elements I could also recommend, but I think this is a minimum viable API service provider definition. This isn’t rocket science, or my unique view of the space. This is how API service providers should be operating as we go into 2016, and reflects the successful providers I keep an eye on.
The most telling characteristic for me in all of this, is when an API service provider does not have an API. I fundamentally believe that a service provider cannot help me be successful with my API operations, unless they also execute their own successful API strategy. When you look through the website of someone trying to sell you a service, and you cannot find a publicly available API — turn around and go look for another provider.
As I think about the most valuable services in the space, and the ones that are helping me operate my business, beyond what I can scale on my own, they are often small companies, focusing on a specific problem set. 3Scale focuses on API management, while Runscope and API Science focus on API monitoring, and APIMATIC addresses my SDK needs. Ultimately in 2015, I need my API services just like need the rest of my digital resources, as simple, intuitive, easy to use APIs, so that I can orchestrate them as I see fit.