What API Partnership to choose?
Businesses exploring APIs and developing an API strategy ask themselves: Private, Partner or Public APIs? Keep working with private APIs for a moment, before developing Partner APIs for specific business partners? When is then the right time to make APIs public to all?
And is there a good strategy afterall? In a previous article, we described what the different types of APIs are. We basically find private, partner and public APIs.
Let's today focus on Partner APIs, what are they?
Partner APIs are B2B APIs that are exposed through a contract agreement between the business provider and the developer. In contrast to internal APIs, they go beyond the scope of the company since they are exposed to external companies. In contrast to public APIs, they are not available to the public but only accessible to a specific group of users.
Throughout this article, let’s put ourselves in the shoe of a company making its APIs available to external companies.
Since APIs have the power to expose data, they enable to connect business processes, content and data to partners in an easy and secure way. Among other things, APIs enable better customer experiences, faster business developments... Yet, API’s potential does not stop here. The possibilities are vast but one-off API strategies can be very costly to put in place and can jeopardise relationships with business partners. That is why an API Partnership must be well thought out.
What would really motivate a company to go through the creation and development of an API Partnership Program?
A partnership program can open up many different opportunities. It can secure collaboration & innovation with business partners. Let’s dig into the opportunities - as a data provider - that you could provide to your clients. For each of the reasons hereafter, we will provide examples to illustrate.
- Enhance final users’ experience
Thanks to an API Partnership, a business can indeed enhance customer experience. The more data gathered, the more personalised the experience can be. Thanks to a rise in productivity, final users' experience drastically improves. They are not obliged to jump from one application to the other to make things work.
A. Facebook is a great example. Partners improve their user experience since it is now super easy for visitors to log on using their Facebook credentials. What is the result? Facebook is even more and more used by their members. Businesses using their clients’ Facebook’s accounts decrease the time to log in and increase their clients’ motivation to register.
B. An other example is Ticketmaster's Partner API. The company is an American ticket sales and distribution company. Thanks to their Partner API, they let clients reserve, purchase and retrieve ticket and related information.
- Provide more stickiness to the solution
Solutions providing an access to their APIs through API contracts improve the stickiness of their solution. When an API is plugged to a client's, the convenience is very often increased and the probability to churn decreases. This can also increase customers' loyalty.
A. An example is Convelio, a fine art shipping company, offering a digital logistic solution to organise and track art shipments anywhere in the world. Thanks to their API, Convelio makes quotation requests easier to access. Companies using Convelio's service now have a widget popping up each time their own customers need a quote. That way, customers instantly know how much the travel would cost. Once a famous auction house is using the service, they can't stop using it so easily.
- Foster Business Development
Thanks to an API Partnership, a business can develop new ways of working.
A. The famous company that transitioned from mail-order DVD into an online streaming media system - Netflix - developed API partner initiatives. Their partners have the opportunity to use Netflix's value proposition to strategically expand their footprint.
B. Shopify gives the right tools to create an e-commerce website to drive more customers while managing day-to-day tasks in an easy way. Their API Partners can programmatically access the data found in their Partner Dashboard. This enables Partners to scale their business by automating their front and back office operations.
- Acquire innovation bricks at low cost
Thanks to an API Partnership, a business can add significant features to its original product/ service.
A. With Stripe’s API, thousands of businesses added the payment functionality to their own platform. Whether the company builds a software for a specific industry, for HR specialists, accountants or students, partnering with Stripe helps foster innovation. This means increased revenue streams and potential international scaling. A client can now easily support multi-party payments.
B. At Omron Healthcare, they collect data from e-health and medical devices and their partners can buy them for different purposes. Among Omron's partners, State government epidemiology patterning organizations, provisioning of real-time health data to practitioners... Their partners significantly increase their original product/ and or product, thanks to the data that has been bought from Omron. An example is Walkingspree, an industry leader in providing activity-focused, digital health solutions to help motivate employees to be more physically active.
Great! Now, how to begin with an API Partnership?
API partnership programs must be well thought out. Only mature enough companies are able to launch an API partnership program and make it work.
At Blobr, we believe any company should start with private APIs. That will help establish the right data architecture. They will ensure process automation inside the company. When the right architecture is in place, and if that makes sense for potential clients, the company can start opening up its APIs to Partners. The goal is to open APIs to existing partners with whom the company already built tight connections.
Once this has been achieved, what about opening up APIs to everyone? APIs open for everyone are called Public APIs. Among them, we have Commercial APIs and Open APIs. Commercial APIs are free to use, but often subscription fee or pay-as-you-go business model driven. On the other hand, Open APIs are public and can be used with less restricting terms and conditions.
The move toward openness (partner and public APIs) is favoured by customers. Yet, those APIs have to be well managed and treated as Products so that the integration is seamless.
Want to see Blobr in action? Our experts would be more than happy to understand your use-cases to provide you the best advice on how to share and/or monetize your APIs the right way.