A public sector perspective
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are becoming increasingly important in both the commercial and public sectors. How they are harnessed holds big implications for service delivery, with the potential to lower friction between government and citizens and to unleash a torrent of information and capabilities. Full realization of this “API economy” will require government to assemble a community of partners, including those from the open source and commercial marketplace, to create a thriving ecosystem.
Capitalizing on the API economy
API adoption in the public sector is accelerating, where the many tools, rules, and interfaces for accessing data are now critical to enabling greater sharing and enhancing services. Some progress has been made, but there are still barriers that keep government from capitalizing on the API economy. By making APIs more discoverable and usable, government could help grow the public sector API community. Those leading the way in APIs often start by identifying high-value use cases that facilitate smoother interactions between citizens, businesses, and government agencies. These are likely to be especially attractive as a path to efficiency and cost-savings. API efficiency can allow government employees to shift from transaction processing and other clerical tasks to bigger issues. Moving forward, CIOs and data owners will need courage to place a few big bets, while waiting for other standards to be championed and emerge.
- Actively seek partnerships: Government alone can’t create the API economy. Look for opportunities to create communities around APIs that can eventually become self-sustaining.
- Pilot and prune: Which APIs are really adding value and which are barely making an impact? Focus on pilots to quickly determine which APIs are having the biggest impact. Move to quickly abandon those that aren’t.
- Evangelize: Creating the API economy in the public sector will require executive-level leadership and governance. CIOs and digital officers will need to champion API initiatives in order to overcome organizational inertia. When you discover a winning solution, spread the word to others in your ecosystem the value opportunity.