More and more businesses are recognising that an API strategy is becoming a necessity in a new marketplace driven by cloud-based services, big data, and mobile enablement. Many, including the sponsors of our upcoming Nordic tour, are seeing that businesses in this region are often better prepared for introducing APIs than some of their counterparts around the globe. We talked with these API leaders about this phenomenon, and wanted to share their insights.

Nordic Businesses are Prepared

Nordic Tour SponsorsMark O’Neill, VP of Innovation at Axway, believes that one of the reasons is that Nordic countries are accustomed to doing business internationally. This has prepared them, Mark feels, to understand the importance of using APIs to achieve the reach necessary to have an advantage in today’s global markets. Nordic organizations recognise that APIs can help them enter new markets and continuously provide products and services, regardless of the time zone their customers are in. “For our business customers in the Nordic countries, what we’ve seen is a real understanding of the importance to address a global market,” Mark says. “For businesses to reach suppliers, channels, and markets globally, this feeds into their understanding that they need APIs. These customers are not just selling to local markets, and that means connecting with resellers, suppliers and channels all over the world, at any time.”

David Gorton, Product Manager at Ping Identity adds that Nordic businesses are well prepared to introduce APIs into organizational plans and strategies. This is driven, in part, by a mature understanding of the security requirements involved in granting internal stakeholders, partners and customers access to a business’ data assets and capabilities via an API. “Nordic countries tend to have the awareness that you need to have access management [for APIs], the same access management that a web app needs to have. They are exploring the standards, and looking at what they need to implement next,” David says. In the Nordics, he finds a greater willingness to discuss the security provisions required to unlock a business’ data and services via APIs that some other parts of the world.

B2B Integration

When we recently talked with Sumit Sharma, Director of API Solutions at MuleSoft, he said he was eager to engage in the ongoing dialog happening in the Nordics. By speaking with various Nordic organizations, previous participants of Nordic APIs events, and customers of MuleSoft’s API management services, Sumit says he has found businesses in this region to be comfortable with B2B relationships and that they are using technology to drive integration. He also says that APIs are expanding this conversation because they can create greater integration opportunities. “This notion of B2B integration is nothing new,” Sumit says. The mean of achieving connectedness has progressed, he says, but “there has always been the objective that we need to collaborate… We have always been trying to securely transact relationships with partners. What is different is that now there are … multiple B2B protocols spreading out and that requires a much more thorough orchestration and integration play,” Sumit says.

Ben Nunney, from Twilio agrees that APIs are at the centre of the new way businesses collaborate and communicate. “The internet started out as a small research project,” he says, “but has gone on to do so much. APIs feel a lot like the ‘new frontier’ much like the web used to. Now that we’re all connected, it’s time to let people plug in to our data, services and infrastructure in a meaningful and open way.”

Launching a Private or Partner API

Ronnie Mitra and Holger Reinhardt of Layer 7 (a CA Technologies company) will be sharing presentation duties on the tour. Ronnie’s previous presentation for Nordic APIs on managing the developer experience continues to be talked about amongst businesses working to engage third-party API developers. This time in Helsinki and Oslo, he will discuss how businesses can build effective API strategies across the spectrum of private, partner and public APIs.

“While each business and situation is different,” Ronnie says, “we’ve seen many organizations choose to launch a private or partner API rather than a public one out of the gate,” As he reflects on the theme of the Nordic APIs tour he says, that this choice stems from a few high-level concerns including:

1. A desire to make mistakes and changes behind closed doors
2. An acknowledgement that they lack the resources needed to properly support a public offering
3. A realization that open access does not align well with the business value of the program

He goes on to add that “many API owners… have longer term visions of opening up APIs to the public and use a closed API as a springboard.” He says that this closed- or semi-closed-first strategy results in the infrastructure build out required to solve the business’ short-term need. Product owners often have an eye on the future though and use this initial foyer into APIs to incrementally expand to a broader audience, Ronnie points out.

Giving Nordic Businesses What They Need

Nordic Tour 2014“We are excited to be offering such a comprehensive agenda in each of the countries we are visiting,” said Travis Spencer, co-organiser of Nordic APIs. “We are excited to host a great lineup of speakers that are able to share about the over-arching ideas behind private, partner and public APIs at the same time that they offer practical insights,” adds fellow orgraniser, Andreas Krohn. “The experience they have to share from working with businesses all around the world as well as here in the Nordics will certainly result in a great tour,” he says.

Join these speakers, other well-known experts, and your fellow API practitioners in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Oslo for our API event series this March/April.

About Mark Boyd

Mark Boyd is a freelance writer specializing in the API economy, with a particular focus on API business models, open data and civic tech.