TP2.1: API Economy and API Ecosystems



An Application Programming Interface (API) is a machine-readable interface which enables authorized applications to exploit existing functionality or data sets provided by other applications or databases. Traditionally, APIs were used to integrate individual applications within a company [1]. However, nowadays new web technologies (Web APIs, Cloud) enable organizations to publicly offer core competencies to selected external partners or to any interested developer over the internet [2]. The rise of open APIs has lead to a series of new business models, which in turn have created a new market with complex relations. This new market is summarized under the term API Economy. One possible business model is that external users of a functionality or a dataset directly pay for its use (subscription, license, Freemium, Pay-as-you-go) [3]. This way, an organization can monetize core competencies and thus enter new markets. Alternatively, an organization can make functionalities or data available free of charge. In this case, the goal is to foster innovative ideas, which can be integrated into the organization. In the context of digitization, the API Economy plays an important role, as APIs suddenly become a digital product. Furthermore, the API Economy changes the way organizations cooperate; until now it has been very cumbersome to enter into a partnership with another organization in order to integrate an external capability (contract design, cooperation model, etc.). The concept of open APIs makes networking with a large number of partners easier and faster [4].

The aim of this subproject is to investigate the state-of-the-art for designing public APIs based on literature from research and practice. This concerns technical, legal, business and data protection aspects. Additionally, concrete action recommendations for providers of mobility services are derived and presented.

[1] Vukovic, Maja, et al. (2016) “Riding and thriving on the api hype cycle.” Communications of the ACM 59.3 (2016): 35-37.
[2] Holley, Kerrie et al. (2014). “The Power of the API Economy – Stimulate Innovation, Increase Productivity, Develop New Channels, and Reach New Markets” [Ebook]. IBM Corp.
[3] Evans, Peter C., and Rahul C. Basole. “Revealing the API ecosystem and enterprise strategy via visual analytics.” Communications of the ACM 59.2 (2016): 26-28.
[4] Kubler, Sylvain, et al. “Open IoT ecosystem for sporting event management.” IEEE Access 5 (2017): 7064-7079.