Why your company needs an API evangelist
Every company with an API needs someone to coordinate business and technical needs
As discussed recently in another blog post, the “cult of APIs” demands a certain amount of evangelism. That is to say, for those who believe that APIs represent the key technology driving digital innovation, raising awareness is a matter of some urgency. That’s why CA powers the API Academy’s work around the globe and it’s also why prominent thought leader Kin Lane branded himself the “API Evangelist”.
These people are out in the world, spreading the good word wherever they go. This is very worthwhile work but there’s also a need for evangelism on a more localized scale – specifically, within organizations. Across the public and private sectors, there are organizations that could benefit from APIs but not every stakeholder in every organization recognizes this. Furthermore, many that do recognize it simply don’t know how best to act on that knowledge.
That’s where the embedded API evangelist comes in.
Initially, the role of an API evangelist is likely to be “selling” a proposed project to various stakeholders – ensuring everyone whose cooperation is needed to get the project up-and-running understands the value an API program offers the organization. Once the project has been green-lit, the need for API evangelist will not go away. The same knowledge and skill which allowed that person to get the project off the ground will be needed to make it a success.
The API evangelist’s ongoing role is to ensure open communication and effective collaboration between the various individuals and groups that have a stake in the program – and specifically, to keep business and technical stakeholders on the same page. It is vital that whoever is selected as API evangelist is able to bridge the gap between business managers running the project and the enterprise architects who will build and manage the interfaces themselves.
Whether the API evangelist is someone appointed from within the company or a new hire, they must be able to effectively bridge this gap. Organizations often make the mistake of assigning the role to a non-technical marketing manager. Certainly, this individual must have an understanding of the API program’s business goals, as well as having the skills needed to sell the program (both internally and externally). This is vital but it is not enough.
The API evangelist must also be able to understand whatever technical constraints face the architects who will build the APIs and share the enthusiasms of developers who will build apps that leverage these interfaces. What is more, a major part of their role will involve communicating business requirements to technical stakeholders and technical concerns to business stakeholders. So, business, technical and communication skills are all vital.
The importance of the API evangelist’s coordinating role is hard to overstate. API programs are simultaneously technical projects carried out to achieve business goals and business projects that require input from technicians able to integrate complex enterprise IT systems. As such, they cannot truly succeed without continuous communication and agreement between business strategists and systems architects.
To help organizations in their efforts to coordinate enterprise API programs, CA has teamed up with the API Academy in order to create an eBook called API Design and Architecture: A Coordinated Approach. This eBook takes an in-depth look at how organizations can create APIs and API infrastructure designed to achieve specific business goals. It’s a must-read for API Evangelists everywhere!