APIs in the Time of Pandemic
December 03, 2020

Tanya Vlahovic
eBay

COVID-19 and the global pandemic turned many aspects of life digital, impacting how most people work, learn, entertain, and shop. Due to this, the 2020 holiday season will be unlike any other. Digital has become the primary channel, and many companies want to make the most out of it.

Continuous APIfication allows businesses to interact with customers more efficiently and more frequently, while also finding new ways to create experiences that surprise and delight. In a time where companies might be looking to transform their business with APIs, it is essential to follow a consumer-centric approach, listen to feedback, iterate and strive to always do better to delight customers. Here is how to thrive with APIs in 2020 and the future:

APIs Are the Foundation, Developers Are the Builders

Modern digital ecosystems generate revenue by connecting users and data. This is where APIs play an integral role; APIs are instrumental in achieving revenue goals and the overall success of a business.

The use of APIs across industries has been growing, but it has been especially accelerated due to increased adoption of digital projects brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. APIs are now the foundation on which modern business is built.

While we are in a digital age, it is also the age of the customer. When it comes to APIs, the customer is the developer. APIs are the building blocks that enable developers to create new digital products by putting the blocks together in a unique way. That is why in the consumer-centric approach it is crucial to focus on the consumption with an outside-in perspective and avoid shipping org charts.

Embrace a Blameless Culture

Every company wants to do a better job at serving their customers. It's a common goal all teams can rally around.

A blameless culture is essential in DevOps, but it is equally important across an organization. In times of transformation and uncertainty, it is crucial to embrace change, learn, innovate, and try new things. Flexibility and joy are key to people feeling safe to take risks.

Good architecture cannot fix the broken culture. Instead, reduce processes, define standards, emphasize on the governance, but be flexible on the "how" part to give teams some creative freedom.

Creating an always-improving culture of learning takes continuous collaboration, experimentation, and iteration to get right. But once established, it creates an excellent foundation to foster innovation, both directly and indirectly, and let the developer community be inventive and inspired to do their best work.

Use APIs for a Good Cause

Global marketplaces typically offer large inventory selection to buyers around the globe. It is equally important to support local neighborhoods and communities, especially in such unprecedented times. Hence, the focus should be on what we at eBay call GLOCAL. Buyers may be interested in the inventory within a certain radius, so technology needs to enable such integrations so developers can create new digital products and capabilities to better support local communities.

2020 has also shed a light on the importance of giving back, especially to the organizations that help with COVID-19 relief and try to minimize the impact of the pandemic. In the marketplace space, APIs could easily enable sellers to support their favorite charities by allowing them to specify how much they want to donate, as well as enable buyers to shop for charities. With the help of APIs there is an excellent opportunity to bring together technology and generosity to make the world a better and a safer place. 

When technology is used wisely, it certainly can create impact. Organizations with a flexible and adaptable platform manage to use their API portfolio for a good cause and respond to crises. And remember, we are building our future on bytes, but our customers are human beings. 

Sticking out in the vast APIverse is a challenge. On the other hand, there has never been a greater need to leverage technology to create the most impact. 

Tanya Vlahovic is Head of Developer Ecosystem, Lead Architect for Public APIs, at eBay
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