Home IT Survey: Businesses Embrace APIs for Apps Integration, Not Social

IT Survey: Businesses Embrace APIs for Apps Integration, Not Social

In perhaps one of the more counter-intuitive surveys to be published this year, commissioned by developer tools maker Apigee, a majority of businesses interviewed whose IT departments are currently managing API-intensive development projects say that integration with social networking sites is the least of their concerns.

Though the interview was limited to only 24 companies (leaving some doubt as to whether the sample size is adequate enough), the Web API study published by Hurwitz & Associates shows only 12% (3 firms) registering “expanding to social networking sites” as an important motivating factor for adopting APIs in applications.

Some 82% (20) of the companies interviewed for the report said application integration was among the most important driving factors in their API adoption processes, while 78% (19) cited collaboration with partners as most important, and 61% (15) cited connecting to more devices.

The trend indicated here suggests that although Facebook may be “eating the Web,” as suggested on multiple occasions this year by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, it may have gotten too full to eat businesses.

Or, as the Hurwitz team puts it, “these companies recognize that providing a quick and easy way for developers to integrate applications leads to a stronger application ecosystem and increased value to customers.” Maybe. Intense study on the subject over the past five years or more from firms such as Forrester confirms that application integration is a key driver for API adoption, but not necessarily for such high and lofty purposes.

As Forrester analysts Ken Vollmer and Noel Yuhanna put it more directly last April, “Enterprises are seeking a lean, mean, and more holistic approach to integration, doing more real-time integration and planning increased usage of enterprise service buses (ESBs) and data services platforms. The need to integrate on-premises apps with software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps is also starting to affect requirements. These trends will affect a wide range of Forrester clients this year and should shape key objectives for planned upgrades or modifications to integration infrastructure and skills.”

In other words, it’s not the need for a nice, shiny ecosystem that’s the problem: It’s the fact that SaaS applications are typically self-contained, and for many businesses, the most expedient way to make them useful with respect to businesses’ long history of existing data, is to build quick-and-dirty scripts and tools for forcing square pegs into rounder holes. Or as Mae West put it, “Goodness had nothing to do with it.”

In a separate question in the Hurwitz survey dealing with the business motivations for adopting APIs, as opposed to the technical factors, 75% (18) of respondents cited the need to connect to more partners as critical, while 65% (16) cited the need to expand their channel strategies. Only 12% (3) said it had anything to do with improving the recognition of their brand – which, if you think about it, is usually one of the factors behind building an ecosystem. That’s another indicator that there’s grittier, more pressing business needs at work here.

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