How Can APIs Help Overcome the Tech Skills Shortage?

6 min read

APIs can be a powerful lever when it comes to overcoming skills shortages. They can help developers clear their backlogs, reduce technical debt and even help marketing teams! Here's a few tips to think your API strategy and alleviate the work of your teams.

The great debate going around on Twitter and LinkedIn is 'Should workers return to the office'? In the US, over half the workforce are considered ‘knowledge workers’. These are ‘workers whose main capital is knowledge’ and are mostly able to perform their work online. 

This is matched by the trend for digital transformations which has radically increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Statista, 65% of businesses have increased their digital transformations and it’s expected by 2023 digitally transformed businesses will be responsible for over 50% of the global GDP. 

And yet, despite this global digital phenomenon and impact, it’s estimated less than 1% of the world's population can code. Before ‘work from home’ became the rally cry, the slogan ‘learn to code’ dominated the public and private sphere. 

Forbes estimated a global risk of $8.4 trillion being lost in revenue as there were not enough technically able people to deliver on it. 

No amount of coding boot camps can meet the need. Even if it was possible to close the technical skills shortage, there is a technical skills gap to contend with. As the demand for tech skills grows exponentially, the environment itself is changing too quickly for technically able people to adapt fast enough. 

Instead, technology itself needs to be used in new and innovative ways to meet the challenge. Tech skills need to be packaged into reusable assets which allow their use no matter if you can code or not. Welcome your new teammates: APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). 

How to use tech skills effectively 

APIs are already making work more efficient for developers. According to a developer survey, 61% of developers increased their use of APIs in 2020 and this trend is expected to grow to 71% in 2021. This is because APIs can be used like building blocks. Once the functionality has been created, it can be reused. 

These same APIs can also be used outside of a technical team. All employees can benefit from APIs as they don’t need to know how the API works, only what it does and why they need it. Therefore technical skills aren’t needed as long as the APIs are available, easy to find and their purpose well understood. 

Technically skilled employees should focus on producing API assets. As the rest of the organization uses these APIs, technical capacity and speed are increased while costs are lowered. 

4 ways APIs help overcome the tech skills shortage 

APIs remove work from technical teams backlogs 

When APIs are created as assets they can remove work from technical teams’ backlogs permanently. Each API should be created with a specific role in mind. With clear ‘jobs to be done’ each API can be used to solve business challenges and keep up with new opportunities. 

This removes rework from technical teams’ backlogs and gives them the space to work on new features. 

APIs reduce technical debt from legacy systems 

There is a triple cost in maintaining legacy systems. There is a monetary cost and a human cost as legacy systems often require highly skilled expertise. The effort put towards maintenance is unavailable to support business growth. In addition, legacy systems may prevent the adoption of newer technology. 

APIs can help modernize legacy systems and reduce technical skills wasted on technical debt. 

Legacy services can be packaged as APIs in the same way new functionality is built. APIs can also connect new applications to legacy systems data, making them easier to interact with. 

On top of that, ongoing maintenance is reduced through the use of APIs. As APIs are reused across a business, only one update is needed to improve all connected systems. It is also possible to automate diagnostics further reducing the need for technical skills to maintain legacy systems. 

Give APIs an advantage with marketing  

For the optimal use of APIs, they need to be shared widely and easily. Companies should promote their APIs to be used by partners and clients. 

Marketing of APIs communicates their benefits. This is especially important for their use by nontechnical employees. As mentioned above, as APIs are created as assets, they can be used for their functionality without understanding how they work. 

An API repository with good documentation can serve as a powerful API marketing. Successful API marketing will have the additional benefits of improved: 

  • Security 
  • Governance 
  • Maintenance 
  • And scalability 

Leverage external APIs 

While businesses transform their digital architecture with APIs, there is even greater potential through the use of external APIs. 3rd party APIs can remove the need to build and maintain your own technology stack. 

On top of monetary and time gains through leveraging external APIs, there are also opportunity costs benefits. With all the potential business value from APIs, don’t let a skills shortage get in the way. Make use of external APIs and platforms for a fast turnaround and quality product. 

Tech skills reimagined as APIs

Jeff Bezos has made many visionary decisions that led him to pay for a trip to space. One of those was to ensure all engineers create APIs. Despite the tech skills shortage, he was so certain of this choice he threatened to fire anyone who didn’t. 

If this insight is anything like the decisions that led a bookstore to become the leading online global retailer, Jeff saw how APIs can help overcome the tech skills shortage. 

The demand for technical skills is constantly growing and changing. While it is impossible to scale technical skills, through the use of APIs companies no longer need to rely on a few highly skilled individuals. 

Instead of training and recruiting millions of new engineers, enable your entire workforce through API products. An API system is dynamic with the flexibility to grow with demand. And you can free up your technical talent to work on functional gaps and innovation. 

To grow your business capability put all of the above in action. At Blobr, we help companies leverage their APIs and transform their end users' experience. Discover what is possible for your business, by talking to one of our experts at Blobr.

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