Several key API management vendors have added or strengthened API technical and strategy consulting capabilities over the last 12 to 18 months. This “add on” to an API management solution represents a growing market opportunity and is a critical capability for functioning as a “strategic partner” for digital business initiatives. This trend has translated into comprehensive enterprise API management packages that deliver strategy workshops and ongoing guidance/reviews with the core API management solution to help achieve success with digital business initiatives involving the use of APIs.
Moving away from theoretical frameworks to the practicalities of digital business initiatives involving the use of APIs
In the past API management vendors have left money on the table when it comes to API strategy consulting services. Some of the frameworks on “API-led digital transformation” that are in circulation over the web or otherwise were developed a few years ago by system integrators (SIs) that were happy to exploit opportunities redirected from API management vendors. However, in some cases, these frameworks and strategy maps were devoid of the practicalities of the groundwork that needs to be done for realizing success with an enterprise API initiative. Some included too many steps or only a limited number, with many disconnects in between. Needless to say, these frameworks and strategy maps were of little relevance to the requirements of their customers.
Realizing this gap in the market, some of the key API management vendors decided to develop and strengthen their API strategy consulting capabilities, and were relatively well placed in terms of API technical consulting capabilities. For example, IBM introduced its API Economy Workshops for Transformation in 2015. This combination of three workshops covers aspects including API-led digital business opportunities, architecture and implementation considerations, and business plan for API initiatives. In addition, IBM provides consulting services via four types of engagement:
API pilot, six to eight weeks in duration
API enablement and integration, six to 24 weeks in duration
Enterprise digitization, one to five years in duration
API lifecycle managed services.
These services are delivered via a range of IBM teams, including middleware, global business services, MobileFirst, and industry specialists.
MuleSoft also announced customer success elements as part of Anypoint Platform Solution package in Q2, 2015. Customer success elements include:
MuleSoft Catalyst program: customer journey development, business value assessment, and value realization readouts
Core journey services: rapid start training/enablement services and technical architecture reviews
Best-practice accelerators: core services workshop, API design workshop, and API blueprint
Platform-level support experience: premium reporting/reviews and quarterly engineering reviews.
It is clear that API technical and strategy consulting services enable API management vendors to develop deeper engagement with customers, and a few have already secured good business in this regard. It is quite obvious that this is an ideal option for customers, because they can engage with technologists, architects, product managers and developers who have real-world experience and expertise in APIs. All of these factors increase the chances of achieving success with enterprise API initiatives. Ovum identified this as a key trend in the recently published Ovum Decision Matrix on API management solutions.
Saurabh Sharma, Senior Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions - Middleware