- November 16, 2016
business man designing a database plan on a screen

Photo credit: Tec Estromberg. Creative Commons Attribution

Your next promotion might lead you to a career in API design or project management. The API industry is booming and there’s a shortage of people with the right skills.  Do you have what it takes to leverage the API economy in your career?

According to a recent Gartner report, “Every company is a technology company. APIs make this work.” The Gartner report explains the reasons for startling shifts in the API industry. “Starting in media and high tech, APIs have now moved into financial services, government, healthcare and retail. During the past two years, a critical mass of companies and government institutions has been publishing APIs in their developers’ portals to fuel B2C innovation, enable the use of mobile apps and take advantage of more direct B2B interactions with their business partners…the best is still to come.”

Companies value the traits of API designers and API project managers as they transition into the digital economy. Based on hundreds of discussions that Restlet executives have had with companies deploying API strategies, here are 5 traits of API project managers that may surprise you.

1 Great collaborators – much like the APIs they manage, API project managers need to connect different groups together. In a typical API DevOps organization, they need to connect development, operations, and QA. They excel at forging alliances between the different groups of people to reach a successful outcome of their project.

2 Money makers – companies are increasingly turning to APIs to generate new revenue streams or invigorate life into an old revenue stream such as large underutilized database by making it accessible to partners and developers. Although the payoff from exposing a REST API to mobile developers may take time, API project managers keep focus on the ultimate goal of increasing revenue.

3 Love products – although an API is not a typical product that consumers can hold or use, API professionals usually love the gadgets and mobile apps that APIs enable. Input from the consumers of the API, the developers that build things with the API, is critical to the success of any API projects. API project managers need to understand and think like API consumers. They get excited about beautiful interactive charts built with data exposed by APIs and love all the great IoT devices that are sending data to the cloud.

4 Strict testers – Despite the soft-skills needed as an API project manager, successful people know that above all else, the API needs to work. Even with version upgrades of the API and a myriad devices connecting to the API, it needs to work consistently.  For this reason, API professionals are strict about API testing and integrate the QA process into all aspects an API strategy. Some people start their projects with testing as the main focus, in a test-first process.

5 Culture leaders – Increasingly, API development needs to be integrated into a company’s DevOps workflow. Although DevOps is a broad term that covers operations, development, and quality assurance, it’s often described as a culture. Bridging the workstyles of previously siloed groups, goes beyond collaboration skills. Often, a change in culture is needed. To complete API projects on time, manage API revisions, and expand revenue from API services, API professionals often need to lead subtle shifts in thinking and establish an API DevOps culture.

Historically, API projects started with the development team and the strategy for most organizations was code-driven. With the rise of the digital economy and the mobile and IoT trends powering the shift, we’re seeing a movement to an API contract-driven strategy. Increasingly, organizations are also pursuing test-driven or behavior-driven strategies depending on the project goals. With fundamental changes in how software requirements are defined, tested and deployed, companies have an urgent need for leaders that can guide projects to success. API project managers are well-qualified to grow into these leadership positions.   

To learn more about the API DevOps revolution sweeping across the enterprise, watch this short video I made.