Happy New Year. I’ve been involved with professional API development for 15 years and have never seen more excitement in the API Economy. If you’re an API developer, congratulations. Your skills will be in high demand as businesses offer more jobs at higher salaries. If you’re new to API development, I suggest it’s time to look at how businesses plan to monetize big data and the processes they use to publish and charge for data. The money that businesses allocate to API developers is sure to make things more exciting for all of us. In 2015, we’ll also see businesses defining a new role of an API scientist, modeled after the role of the data scientist, that businesses have created to bridge development, business issues, and operations.
Here are my predictions for 2015.
Prediction 1: APIs will power the digital supply chain that drives big data monetization
2014 was the year of big data – or was it 2013? In any case, we saw a rapid increase in big data deployments this past year. We also saw key big data technologies reach a maturity level that makes them enterprise-ready. Big data is undoubtedly yielding results, increasing the productivity of key business processes, and creating new insights from harvesting and processing more data sources.
But productivity increases are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to big data benefits. Big data enables many organizations to reinvent their business model, to create a new commercial resource: data.
The key challenge for businesses is to deploy their digital supply chain, the mechanics of publishing their data to consumers of the data. Web APIs, based on REST, offer a high degree of standardization and preserve the agility needed to make adjustments to both the backend and the delivery process.
Successful monetization of big data will be driven by APIs that enable data consumers to access big data.
Prediction 2: Expertise in web APIs will become a hot skill that employers look for on resumes
Web APIs are a simple concept – at least on paper. But even if an API platform such as APISpark help a non-expert craft and deploy industrial-strength RESTful APIs, developing and using complex APIs remains a big challenge for many developers.
For the past few years, the spotlight of IT skills shortage has been squarely aimed at big data. Developers have been encouraged to learn and master MapReduce or Spark in order to command outrageous salaries and signing bonuses. These skills are indeed needed, no question. However, as the focus shifts from producing insight with big data, to disseminating this insight, and possibly monetizing data itself, being able to master the complexities of the web APIs world will become equally important. Developers should invest time in learning Java API development frameworks such as Restlet Framework and also API description languages such as Swagger or RAML, data markup languages such as JSON or YAML, and more generally get familiar with the REST architectural concepts.
Prediction 3: 2015 sees the emergence of “API scientists”
Just as 2014 saw demand explode for data scientists, the burgeoning “API Economy” will create demand for a new breed of corporate application developer, one who reuses existing APIs – public or private, from within the enterprise, from trading partners or from the outside world – to build modular and highly agile applications. In a way, this mode of building applications is the new object oriented development, revisited in the twenty-first century.
Why is there a parallel with the data scientist? Modern application developers need to master simultaneously the technology (languages to call APIs and to publish them, coding or scripting to build the link between APIs, etc.), the business parameters (identifying the proper APIs, types of contracts, economical equation, etc.), and the operations aspects (deployment platforms, reliability, monitoring, SLAs, etc.). Only a “jack of all trades,” with deep expertise in all these domains, will successfully build data driven APIs that bring much-needed agility to their organization. Meet the API scientist.