Challenges the API Industry Faces in 2021

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The global economy has faced a slew of changes and challenges in the past year alone. The coronavirus pandemic shifted the way we work and use technology, which means big things for the API industry.

But pandemic changes aren’t the only challenges facing API users and manufacturers. With an ongoing court battle between Google and Oracle over the functional elements of API systems, an explosion in cybercrime, and changing needs throughout the economy, the industry has a lot to address going into 2021 and beyond.

Here, we explore these challenges and more to give you a better picture of what you face in the year ahead. Here’s what you should know.

1. Supporting the Gig Economy

In large part, the gig economy is already fueled by the convenience of APIs. Platforms like Freelancer and Upwork provide a two-sided marketplace for freelance workers and businesses alike to connect for mutual benefits. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, millions have been removed from previous jobs. Stuck at home, managing children, and adjusting to a new economy has left many of these workers to seek out positions within the gig economy.

APIs play an essential role in managing the data needed to bridge freelance workers with prospective employers. Managing the remote access, collaborative capabilities, and disaster recovery needed for the gig economy would be impossible without cloud storage and the APIs that communicate between systems. The economy needs gig workers, and the API industry faces the task of making these global connections.

This will require effective and scalable API systems with unprecedented power to connect two users not only to each other but to other APIs and data systems. The gig economy requires insights into company needs, freelancer portfolios, project ideas, and so much more. APIs can help extend this information.

2. Adapting to Global Changes

Advances in technology as well as shifting workplace standards make for changing needs and new accommodations. The emergence of APIs themselves led to the creation of all sorts of business types that have powered essential functions throughout this pandemic economy. Services like Uber and DoorDash that connect freelancers to consistent work helped stave off some of the damage of COVID–19 while also providing essential services like home food delivery.

In the new economy, interface-dependent services like API platforms will be more common and open across a wide variety of industries. From healthcare to human resources, the application of connective tools will be instrumental in streamlining systems for the good of all involved.

For example, HR professionals managing payrolls can use APIs to communicate with tech departments, employee databases, project resources, and more to generate effective methods of invoicing the right contractors for the right work. Payrolls connected to APIs can allow for seamless functionality between financial software and product software. In turn, businesses can better align departments like HR to their overall business strategy.

These solutions help navigate the changing economy, but API manufacturers face the challenge of upscaling and adapting these systems for broader connectivity.

3. Security Issues

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, cybercriminals took it as an opportunity to increase their efforts and devise ways to exploit remote work and virtual business. APIs have not gone unnoticed in this deluge of attacks. One of the greatest challenges that the API industry will have to face in 2021 and beyond is shoring up cybersecurity processes to provide exceptional data security.

Despite the dangerous environment for all kinds of digital systems, many API developers still fail to track their usage data and connections. It is essential to monitor and govern the API network thoroughly. Artificial intelligence may be an answer to this challenge, as machine learning processes can better model security threats and address them with speed and precision no human can match.

In the meantime, update your code, use Transport Layer Security (TLS), and educate employees and users on the importance of strong passwords and understanding the terms of use agreements.

4. Legal Challenges

It has been over a decade since the court case involving tech giants Google and Oracle began. The gist of this battle revolves around the copyright legality of reimplementing API software, mostly through open APIs developers use all the time.

Google lost in a Federal Court of Appeals ruling, with the court determining that Oracle retained ownership rights and was owed money for the reimplementation of their open API. This has far-reaching implications for software developers hoping to use these systems and could set a precedent for other cases.

However, Google has now taken the fight to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it will be determined how APIs are regulated within the marketplace. A host of software and tech companies have already reached out via a “friend of the court” brief, stating that the Federal Court decision: “privileg[es] powerful incumbents, creating artificial barriers to entry for new players, and deterring new software development.”

If this decision is upheld, it will mean legal complications and regulations across the API industry.

5. Maximizing Value

Finally, with the push for broader digital systems and interface connectivity, the API marketplace will only flourish. This means much greater competition as well increased emphasis on the aforementioned challenges. In such an environment, it will be necessary for API providers to better market their services and communicate the value these systems can directly add to businesses.

Already, many companies struggle with tracking the revenues accrued through the direct application of an API. Overcoming this challenge will mean the API developers must provide better customer education and support. In turn, the application of APIs will only increase with heightened user success and integration.

Final Thoughts

While these challenges can seem overwhelming, technological advancements like the Internet of Things, 5G Wireless capabilities and machine learning processes give API developers many more tools to work with to help fuel comprehensive solutions. As a result, nearly every sector of the economy will experience the benefits of connective interfaces and platforms — matter how long we end up socially distancing.