APIs are a boon for organizations. API adoption streamlines information sharing across the company. APIs foster better collaboration among the stakeholders. They also ease the decision-making process for top executives. However, with the increasing adoption of APIs, the burden of API management overwhelms senior management with additional responsibilities.
When considering an API-led digital transformation for your company, you, as a business leader, would focus on streamlining the management and governance of APIs. It also extends to a set of OKRs to drive business outcomes via APIs. Like any enterprise-wide initiative, the top management drives API adoption. But how can you steer your way through this transformation?
This blog post is a four-part series that addresses this very question. In this first part, we set the context in terms of the CxO roles responsible for driving API adoption. In the subsequent parts, we cover the aspects related to the key responsibilities of the senior-level leadership for effective API management. Finally, we address the API driven metrics that move the needle toward more significant business outcomes.
In case you want to directly jump to the subsequent parts, take a look at the part two, and part three that covers the responsibilities of the CIO and CTO , respectively. Further, you may also want to explore the part four covering some of the common business metrics, that have a positive impact due to API adoption within an enterprise.
The various stages in API management lifecycle
Before going further, let’s do a quick recap about the API lifecycle stages based on the principles of API governance. This helps us understand the personas that act as the primary touchpoints for every API.
API Lifecycle Personas, courtesy Dzone
API BUILD: API Build stage involves a process leading to the publishing of an API. These are a series of events, starting from the initial idea to the design of an API, all the way until its launch. The tasks performed under API build are the responsibilities of the API creator. API creators are individuals or a team responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of API.
API MANAGE: API Manage is the stage where an API’s day-to-day activities get monitored and enforced. This is where the API spends most of its time. A dedicated API governance team manages all the activities.
API CONSUME: The API Consume stage involves all the actions taken by an end-user who wishes to consume an API. This end user is the API consumer. API consumers can be internal to the company, or external. In the case of an external API consumer, it may be a partner or a customer. Accordingly, APIs are classified as an internal, partner, or third-party APIs.
The goal of the C-level leadership of a company is to strategize and design the processes for managing the API lifecycle. Regulating access to APIs through various touchpoints also comes under this scope. It is a decisive role. Depending upon how things are handled, it can have far-reaching ramifications with increasing API adoption.
Let’s discuss the most significant roles of the C-level executives, which are chiefly responsible for driving the entire spectrum of API management and API monitoring processes, in line with the business objectives.
CXO roles for API management within the enterprise
The API creators, API governance team, and the API consumers are all part of the ground-level execution personas driving the API adoption. Without the API creator and API consumer, there is no supply and demand for the API’s services. And without the API governance team, there would be chaos in managing the changes related to API versions and access permissions. Seamless collaboration between the different personas of this execution engine, via API management software, is the key to a successful, enterprise-wide API adoption.
From a top-down organization hierarchical view, the execution engine gets strategic directions from a few C-level roles.
Essential CxO roles
CIO (Chief Information Officer): A top management executive holds the CIO role. This person is responsible for the organization’s IT strategy and implementation. More specifically, the CIO’s job function involves designing the IT strategy and support framework that aligns with the organization’s processes and business goals. Additionally, the CIO is also responsible for the deployment and management of the IT assets and infrastructure. This ranges from computer hardware to software, and other peripheral assets and accessories. CIO acts as an enabler for a closed knit coordination between the three execution personas of API adoption within the IT framework. The CIO never manages them directly. However, there may be certain situations where the API governance team reports to the CIO.
CTO (Chief Technology Officer): This role provides the organization’s overarching technology direction. The CTO works in conjunction with CIO to govern the technology adoption for the organization’s IT systems. Specifically, the CTO is also the chief architect of the technology stack, platforms, and systems. The same goes for supporting the API adoption through a robust technological stack. Additionally, the CTO needs to have a strategic vision for nurturing the API ecosystem.
Additional CxO roles
CFO and Other Roles: There are also other C-level roles holding some of the organization’s critical functions. These mainly include CFO (Chief Finance Officer), COO ( Chief Operations Officer), and CINO (Chief Innovation Officer). These roles do not have direct involvement in API management; however, they have a specific indirect responsibility on the API governance side.
For instance, the CFO would be interested in the money spent on managing the API management platform. In case of API consumption from third-party APIs, someone from the CFOs team, ideally the financial controller, will track the cumulative subscription costs. This person would closely coordinate with CIO and CTO to allocate budgets. Similarly, the COO might be responsible for the APIOps team accountable for the API governance. In smaller organizations, the APIOps can be managed by the CIO’s office. However, for large enterprises with diverse operational challenges, all operations teams may report into the COO organization.
Middle management roles
There are also specific middle management roles that influence certain aspects of API management, both in terms of strategy and implementation. These include the positions of Director of software engineering and R&D department head. Both these roles have a direct or indirect reporting line to the CIO/CTO. However, their scope for API adoption will be limited to a business unit or an internal project.
What about the CxO responsibilities?
Now that we know about the most critical C-level roles that drive the API initiatives within an enterprise, the next logical question points to the specific responsibilities of these roles.
In the next part of this blog post series, we address the CIO’s primary responsibilities. Subsequently, we cover the CTO organization’s responsibilities , for a smooth supervision of day-to-day API management processes.