Last week during our API Integration Leaders AMA (ask-me-anything) talk show series, we brought on 8 integration experts from 4 different categories to discuss how they design their API strategy, how they drive adoption of their APIs, interesting lessons they have learned along the way, and any tips or tricks they have for developers and technical executives.
In the e-commerce category, we heard from Oren Harris, Onboarding App Team Lead at Shopify and Jen Kessler, CEO and Co-founder at Bizzy. From Marketing Automation, we interviewed Chris Campbell, Group Product Manager at Oracle Eloqua and Steve Organ, Senior Product Manager at Influitive. From CRM we chatted with Kris Chant, Developer Relations at Salesforce and Kyle Burnett, CTO and Co-founder at Allound. And from the Finance realm, we spoke with David Leary, Senior Developer Evangelist at Intuit Quickbooks and Andy Murphy, Director of Product at FieldAware.
We got to the bottom of some of your most pressing API integration questions. Here’s how the experts answered how they design their API strategy.
What is the driving factor for your API strategy and how do you measure it's business value?
SHOPIFY: “We try to make a clean, easy to use integration, with providing as much information publicly as we can, but also protecting our merchants and our partners together. We're trying to build the best APIs, the most open APIs, and the ones that are just easier to use. But really, we want to make it so that our support team is there to help all developers. We want to make it a self-serve platform, as well as an open platform, so basically anyone can develop on Shopify."
ORACLE ELOQUA: “Our APIs were introduced about 10 years ago, and the original drive is business value for customers, but also for ourselves and having that open platform that everybody wants to have and use. When APIs were introduced on top of that marketing automation system, [marketers] could then automate a lot of those [manual] tasks being performed and connect to external systems. And now, the strategy really has to do with creating that value for the clients that makes them sticky. That's good for our business, but it's also good for their business, mutual value."
SALESFORCE: "The idea is pretty simple. Salesforce obviously wants to build a great product and to make all of our customers successful, but we can't do it all that the level of quality that anyone would want to do, that our customers might expect. We want to provide this opportunity for those who see opportunities within the platform to expand and build upon it and, where applicable, even makes money as well."
INTUIT QUICKBOOKS: "We kind of have a choice to make. We could try to build everything, which we kind of tried to do in the desktop world. We would have 800 features a year get added to a product and we could never add enough, fast enough. With QuickBooks Online, we had to reinvent the way we were doing things and QuickBooks Online is more of a platform. The APIs are enabling developers to build the right solutions, and for field service companies, and then send the accounting data to QuickBooks and the APIs. The API is the plumbing or the grease between the two."
As for the best advice for other software developers and technical executives who are designing their own API strategy, the experts shared these words of wisdom:
- Formalize your API strategy from the get to
- Be end-user focused
- Spend time on your API and don’t ship out things that are half-baked
- Think long term - you don’t want to have to make a bunch of changes in a year or two
- Plan ahead
- Understanding the long-term goals
- Keep it simple. Less is always more, you can always add on
Want the answers to more of your API integration questions? You can listen in to the full talk show interviews. Check out the podcasts here.