We are all aware of the power API's hold for a business looking to succeed in today’s digital world. They can accelerate development, unlock new revenue streams, and increase brand interaction. However, before a business can reap the rewards API's bring, changing the way they are designed, implemented, deployed and used can have a direct impact on their consumption and adoption.
Some of these changes are focused around tech, and can easily be made, but some are even deeper. Some are rooted in a business's operations, culture, and mindset, and require a heavier lift.
This mindset change is focused on moving from an ‘inside-out’ approach to an ‘outside-in’ approach. In short, the latter put certain groups of people first. These are the people who seek to create value for your business, and the people who consume that value.
Defining the ‘Outside-In’ Mindset and Who It Affects.
In the context of digital transformation, the ‘outside-in’ mindset is focused around designing API's from data available, rather than the structure of data in your system. This shift affects a range of cohorts, who all interact with your business in some way. It also affects the experience your developer portal brings to these cohorts. As the developer portal is key to successful adoption of your API's, this change in design, and mindset will also affect developer portal experience.
For the purpose of this article, let us view this change with respect to your external developers, internal developers, and partner developers, and how their experience will change when engaging with the developer portal.
For those who create value for your business - external developers. The ‘outside-in’ mindset means demonstrating empathy towards the ones intending to adopt your API's. It is putting yourself in their shoes. What do they need from your API? How will they use it? What do they intend to build with your API's? How can you streamline or simply their lives? You are providing a developer portal experience that will lend itself to easy adoption. Structure products pages, easily navigable documentation, forums, blogs, and FAQs that provide further info if need. All packaged in a clean environment.
With an ‘inside-out’ mindset API's, documentation, and other necessary info on your developer portal may be difficult to navigate and search for. It may be unorganized and require external developers to work through a lot of irrelevant info to get to what they need - not ideal for easy consumption of API's.
For internal developers - an ‘inside-out’ mindset might force them to work through lots of badly named, and categorized API's. They may have to read through lots of documentation, some of which doesn’t benefit them reaching their objectives. Your internal developers are at the epicenter of the channels that allow your consumers to gain real value from your business.
With that in mind, shifting towards an ‘outside-in’ mindset can provide them with the environment they need to be even more successful. It will greatly streamline their workflow and minimize onboarding times. It will allow developers to get up and running quicker, meaning more apps created and more API's adopted.
Finally, partner developers. Those who collaborate, and grow your range of capabilities in your market. Using the ‘outside-in’ approach, the adoption of your products and services from these partners will be streamlined. ‘Inside-out’ may require them to jump through many hoops, formalities, and legacy processes. It may even deter them from engaging with you. With the ‘outside-in’ approach, the focus is on eliminating those ‘hoops’. It allows for ease of adoption, greater collaboration, and improved adaptability as you grow. Similar to internal developers, the onboarding process is also streamlined. It will give you a greater opportunity to bring on new partners so you can continue to grow your ecosystem of capabilities.
A Crucial Step on the Journey
The ‘outside-in’ approach is just one mindset shift that will be beneficial in your journey to digital transformation. As mentioned, there are many aspects that require change on this journey. Internal processes, technology, mindset, and culture are just a few. However, applying the ‘outside-in’ mindset will give a customer-centric focus to your API design and transform the developer portal experience for all who engage with it. It will enable those who adopt API's to uncover more opportunities and create an overall better customer experience. It will give those that provide true value to your business a springboard for success.
If you have any questions about the above piece or want to know more about API management, developer portals, or digital transformation as a whole. Please feel free to reach out.