Investing in API infrastructure: Why Executive Leadership Needs to Care

The top five most frequent discussion topics I have with developers and software engineers include:

  • Game of Thrones
  • Star Wars vs. Star Trek
  • Computers destroying humans and taking over the world
  • APIs
  • Executive leadership’s limited understanding of technology

I have pretty thick skin and love bantering about science fiction and fantasy, but when it comes to heated dialogue around leadership’s fundamental lack of technology understanding, I get a little sensitive. Usually I am outnumbered in these debates and I am definitely at a disadvantage in terms of technology training and background. With that said, as the discussion becomes more intense, I always revert back to my training as a finance professional and ask the central business question:

How does the technology make or save the company money? 

APIs Save Money 

In my experience, when the topic of APIs come up it typically becomes a very technical discussion between developers. Clearly this makes sense as APIs are core to the design and development process and significantly impact workflow and efficiency. This is one of the main reasons that executive leadership in technology companies should make a more concerted effort to understand API infrastructure. Improving workflow and efficiency saves companies money!

Labor (salaries, benefits, etc.) is the most significant cost that any company will incur and that is especially true in the technology industry.  A company’s ability to maximize their workforce’s efficiency and throughput is a major success driver. This is where the API discussion becomes extremely relevant to leadership. If the interface of the underlying data used to create the product or service is inefficient or poorly designed, this has a massive cost impact on the business. Clean, well-structured and clear API architecture allows the most important resource (developer labor) to be deployed more effectively.

APIs Make Money

Understanding your customer is a cornerstone of running a successful business. In the post internet era, there has been exponential improvement in the ability to understand customer buying habits, motivations, demographic and other psychographic information.  API and related design and interface technology is at the root of this.

The availability of specific customer data through the use of, for example, micro service API techniques, is driving revenue growth by aligning specific offerings against customer behavior patterns. By breaking a task or procedure down into smaller components, the underlying API infrastructure can provide cleaner, more flexible, and more specific data about users. The presence of very specific and focused consumer information greatly assists marketing, sales, and development functions in assessing marketplace trends and quickly responding to marketplace opportunities.

Conclusion 

Continual learning, innovation, and personal development are some of the greatest benefits (and challenges) of being associated with technology.  Leadership and business professionals running technology companies must be in-synch with the major driver of organizational success: its developer workforce. This must include a fundamental understanding of the major challenges, issues, and activities developers engage in as part of their job.

I absolutely look forward to interacting with the core engineers and developers in the WTIA community.  Even if 90% of it goes over my head, their insight and feedback is critical to my own development and effectiveness as a business professional in the technology industry!

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