A recent article, It is All About the API, Not the App, makes a case that apps no longer matter and couldn’t be more wrong.
As IT becomes more consumerized, and cloud computing becomes more of a reality, the app itself is becoming almost irrelevant across enterprises. As the desktop PC model has morphed into the network, and as the network has become just another extension of the Internet, it is all about the API, the ways that apps talk to each other that has made them front and center to today’s corporate computing infrastructures.
Apps communicating with each other (and other people) is important to deriving value from mobile technology. Apps are our window to our data and enterprise systems functionality. The key element however is that each and every app needs to be created with a focus on specific end user activities with usability wrapped around them.
Apple has pushed the boundaries of usability in the mobile environment and served as a great example of what is possible with a focus on the end user. APIs enable smart access to the resources needed but how we present that to the person with the device in hand is going to continue to drive success.
Another big challenge is the typical cloud or infrastructure expectation that network connectivity is always present. Some day in the future we’ll get there but for at least the next 2 years we need apps and APIs that handle offline, disconnected situations gracefully. This is especially important for enterprise apps driving critical workflows. If I need inventory or sales data to close a deal over lunch, it’d better be accessible through or on my mobile device even if I’m in a network dead zone.
Apps drive the fundamental business value of mobile. APIs are enablers and multipliers to that value.