API management: What CIOs should know

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are fast proving to be significant tools in creating business value for CIOs embarking on digital transformations or seeking to develop new revenue streams.

APIs can translate text, label images, send text messages, check for fraud, retrieve open banking data, and handle an increasingly large variety of business transactions. An API may soon be the way to look up COVID vaccination status. As APIs become critical to their IT and development processes inside the organization, CIOs need to be thinking about management, compliance, and access: who gets access to what company data with what APIs through what governance model?

They also need to consider what the organization is effectively outsourcing — or taking on as dependencies — through APIs. Developers picking an API for purely technical reasons can be making a corporate buying decision or choosing a strategic direction that would otherwise be well above their pay grade.

Policies need to keep API usage under control without impacting agility. This requires a clear view of what internal and external APIs are in use in the organization, what they’re used for, what they cost, and how reliable they are. Strategically, CIOs need to be clear on how APIs contribute to the business.

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