PART 1 – Exploring the concept and features of API Marketplace
This is the first part of a 3 part blog series. In this series, I shall cover:
- The concept and features of API Marketplace.
- Where API Marketplace fits in the enterprise ecosystem.
- How to develop an API Marketplace with MuleSoft products.
API Marketplace: Introduction
In the API economy era, businesses are driven by value creation and consumption of the API products available in the market for various consumers. With digital transformation and disruption across industries, the ever-evolving API Market has matured to a level where API products have become part of a business’s strategic vision.
API Marketplace is a unique digital channel for enterprises which provides an opportunity to:
- Sell services/products in existing segments.
- Sell/integrate third-party solutions and tap into new segments.
- Innovate and reduce costs by integrating with third-party assets.
API Marketplace is a global experience hub which provides custom-branded experiences to:
- Consumers (External / Internal) to consume the products/services.
- Providers (partners, developers) to publish and market their products/services.
Marketplace provides a platform that encourages collaboration across organisations, customers, and partners. This collaboration fosters growth within a business.
API Marketplace: Strategy and Conceptualization
An API marketplace is critical to a business and should be well-planned to fit the organisation’s goals and visions strategically. When planning for the API marketplace, you must consider the following aspects:
- Vision, Goal and Business Values
Enterprise-wide visions and goals would drive the current business and future growth. Each goal with associated values will give stakeholders, customers and partners confidence. A formal exercise with various stakeholders would be a great starting point before implementing API Marketplace.
- Use Case, Operating Model and Personas
Each goal has one or more use cases based on the personas. Personas typically give ideas of various users, their permission and roles in the API Marketplace. Operating Model highlights operational procedures, maintenance guidelines and the working model.
- Key performance indicators, Monetization Models and Business Outcomes
To ensure business goals are achieved, various KPIs are observed throughout the lifespan of Marketplace. Different monetisation models are adopted from time to time to ensure that business growth and key outcomes are achieved in a phased manner.
- Functional and Operational Features
API Marketplace should have various features based on business needs. Features are divided into functional and operational features below:
a) Functional features:
Features are driven by business and vary widely based on personas and consumers. They are KPI driven and often implemented in phases based on priority.
|Discovery of assets
|Ease in discovering assets with various criteria like filters, popularity, features, groups etc.
|Easy discovery results in engaging customer experiences.
|Brand-specific experience to match existing enterprise branding and look and feel.
|Existing customers feel convenience and confidence in using the marketplace, resulting in more chances to use it frequently.
|Multi-consumer types would have different experiences and access to the marketplace.
|Persona-based access allows control over what can be seen and not seen.
|Governance of pages and role-based access to pages and API products in the marketplace.
|Controlled access allows pages and API products to be sold based on subscription, allowing multiple monetary streams to be generated.
|Assets Approval Flow
|Fine and coarse grain access to marketplace products and solutions with multi-level approval flow.
|Multi-level approval to access the products allows product owners to allow or reject access.
|Reports & Analytics
|Reports like User access, Assets access, and analytics to measure KPIs
|User Reports enable users to understand how APIs are used and which users are active.Assets Reports provide the popularity of the assets.
|Product subscribers can raise a ticket for various issues ranging from access and consumption of the products to account access.
|Full customer support, which gives the confidence to consumers in the quick resolution of problems and the adoption of new products.
|Community and Forums
|Community of developers and like-minded members can share their experiences and provide feedback in the forum.
|Teams from different groups feel connected. Forums provide knowledge-sharing with the community.
|Products and Solution Grouping
|No single API is meaning full. Customers are looking for a complete solution instead of a single API.
|The group of products and solutions helps customers to extend or integrate with their products
|Notifications and Alerts
|Notify subscribers for various reasons like adding new products/versions, updates on members, Alert when a subscription to a product is approved/rejected etc.
|Various notifications enable users to receive the latest update on what is happening in the marketplace.
|Chats and Bots
|Subscribers can chat with other subscribers and with bots based on need.
|Bots allow users to receive quick and straightforward responses to understand and resolve common problems. Subscribers can also chat with other subscribers, which helps to share knowledge and improve connections.
|Before subscribing, get mock access to a product.
|Mock access allows users to understand what to expect from the product.
|API invocation from Marketplace
|The actual API invocation without going out from the Marketplace.
|The convenience of accessing API from a single platform.
b) Operational features
API Marketplace would require a dedicated team to operate and measure the outcome for which it has been developed. The operational model would provide different types of users and their roles in maintaining the Marketplace. This helps to understand the investments, timeline and resources required for the Marketplace.
|Multiple API Gateway
|Allows APIs/Assets from various API Gateways.
|Flexibility to publish and access products from multiple platforms results in reusability and cost-effectiveness.
|APIs keep evolving with different versions. Multiple product versions should be allowed to be published and consumed.
|Publishing and consuming multi-version products allow using new features and backwards compatibility with previous versions.
|Release management for new APIs or new versions of the existing APIs with multiple environments.
|Results in agility for the products team and effective go-to-market strategy for the business team.
In this blog, I discussed the importance of API Marketplace for a business. The marketplace acts as a channel for various audiences, including customers, partners and employees. A strategic decision with a clear vision and goal would be required even before implementing Marketplace. We understood critical features in terms of functional and operational requirements for API Marketplace. In the next part of this blog series, we shall explore where API Marketplace fits in the enterprise ecosystem.
Our MuleSoft team is ready to help!
If you are planning your journey of API marketplace for your business or want our expert opinion on evaluating existing API Marketplace, our team is available to help. We have a range of services available that help to grow your business from the inception of API Marketplace.