Roberto Medrano

According to The Caine Mutiny, a Navy ship is a system “designed by geniuses to be run by idiots.”  You might be tempted to think a similar thought about today’s mobile applications.  Watching teenagers play with a mobile front end to what you and I know is a vastly complex enterprise back end, it’s seductive to think, “Ah, these kids, they have no idea the kind of system complexity they’re accessing.”  But, you’d be half wrong.   Yes, it’s true that the average app user doesn’t really know that they are tapping into an enterprise API.  However, they are very much aware of the user experience. To think otherwise is to risk your brand image. Albert Einstein said “Any intelligent fool can make things, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction

When an app user surfaces enterprise data on a mobile device, in many cases he or she is using a slick-looking client to call on some array of back end enterprise services.  Whether it’s checking sports stats, ordering a pizza, or gossiping with a social media friend, app use triggers APIs.  When the API works as designed, the process is invisible to the app user.  If the API doesn’t work, watch out.

Let’s take the pizza example.  Your mobile customer starts your app and enters a zip code to start the ordering process.  After thirty seconds, the app has still not returned an order screen. Why? Because, your API is not being managed well and the request load is overwhelming the pizza ordering server that you set up.  Eventually, the app quits.  The customer restarts it, but the app fails again.  Is that customer going to order from you again?  Maybe, but the damage has been done.  Your app has not performed. You’ve lost a sale and alienated a potential repeat customer.  (If you want to get into fancy MBA stuff, you could also grieve over the fact that a customer who orders one $10 pizza a month has a lifetime value approaching $2000!  That’s a lot of dough, pardon the expression, to lose from a single user API failure.)  This is a simplified example but enterprise APIs have to be secure, scalable and enterprise ready.

So, if you think of APIs as deep technology issues that only affect IT people, you’re mistaken.  Technical as they may be, APIs can determine your mobile user experience and your brand image by extension.  Big dollars are at stake.  To help you safeguard your mobile brand, we recommend a thorough and well-disciplined approach to API management.  Our SOA Software API Management™ product family was created to help you and your partners collaborate to manage APIs in a complex environment. It provides a secure, robust platform that companies can use to share their APIs with the developer community of their choice. SOA Software manages, monitors, and secures companies’ APIs ensuring that they deliver the level of service customers and partners require; the security of corporate and customer information and assets; and the integrity of the corporate brand.

Check out the new API management section of our web site http://resource.soa.com  and Read our White Paper: Building an Enterprise API & Developer Community

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