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B2 Group CEO Addresses the API from All Angles

By Paula Bernier
July 13, 2016

B2 Group is one of the fastest growing emerging technology, strategic consulting, and analyst firms in the world. It specializes in helping clients outline and execute full service programs and initiatives around mobile and web-centric technologies in various business disciplines and verticals. That includes assistance with analysis, business strategy, integration, marketing and sales, program development, technology development, and more.

In preparing for the All About the API event next week in Las Vegas, TMC interviewed B2 Group CEO Bob Bilbruck. Here’s an excerpt from that discussion.

What new business opportunities are being driven by the API economy? 

Bilbruck: [There are new opportunities in the area of] health, wellness, and aging – connected health & wellness. [That includes the] ability to use technology to gain better outcomes in regard to health and fitness.

Is there a market for APIs you would consider the low-hanging fruit? 

Bilbruck: Fitness applications are using APIs extensively and coupling this with managing big data and making sense of this big data through cloud applications.

What are the major challenges of API developers?

Bilbruck: [Challenges include] understanding the non-technical needs of the health, wellness, and aging marketplace and the use cases in each vertical. Many of them are very specialized to fit a handful of needs.

To whom should businesses be marketing their APIs?

Bilbruck: CFOs, CTOs, and CMOs work hand and hand today in regard to these areas of technology. All of these titles have input in the process in today’s marketplace.

How do you measure the ROI of an API? 

Bilbruck: [You can measure it by] total cost savings of development. I share a calculation of this in my presentation.

Is API security different than any other kind of security? 

Bilbruck: No, not really – everything is tied into and needs to be secured from the cloud level of the application today. APIs are the traffic cops of the functions.

Which is better, SOAP or REST?

Bilbruck: REST is newer. It seeks to fix the problems with SOAP and provide a truly simple method of accessing web services. However, sometimes SOAP is actually easier to use; sometimes REST has problems of its own. Both techniques have issues to consider when deciding which protocol to use. SOAP and REST share similarities over the HTTP protocol, SOAP is a more rigid set of messaging patterns than REST. The rules in SOAP are important because without these rules, you can’t achieve any level of standardization. REST as an architecture style does not require processing and is naturally more flexible. Both SOAP and REST rely on well-established rules that everyone has agreed to abide by in the interest of exchanging information. In my opinion REST is preferable, it is newer and seems to be more flexible.  With that said, both are effective and in wide use.

How often are APIs changed or updated, and how can you ensure minimal disruption during these processes?

Bilbruck: In regards to health, wellness, and aging applications, APIs are not changed very frequently. The reason why is because usually these are well thought out from the beginning of a development process and in this vertical also may be highly regulated therefore the process to get the solution recertified may be cost prohibitive. This is definitely the case in regard to the health applications and not so much in regard to wellness and aging. In regard to corporate wellness, the data flowing through an application may be HIPPA compliant, and security becomes a greater issue, especially in terms of how this data is communicated and handed off.

What standardization is needed to enable more widespread API use?

Bilbruck: APIs are in wide use in this vertical of health, wellness, and aging now.  I think as developers realize that developments are not as scary and cumbersome as health care applications have been in the past and become more comfortable developing in this vertical, you will see this market explode and more players trying to develop in this category and reap the revenue potential. I share an example of this in my presentation and you can also click here to see the large list of current APIs being used in these verticals

How important is building an ecosystem around your API(s)? 

Bilbruck: In regard to health, wellness, and aging, the ecosystem is the killer solution. It also adds to usability of these apps and solutions. Adoption is key and usability is key – the ecosystem ensures this success.

What differentiates one ecosystem from another?

Bilbruck: Usability and adoption; it’s that simple.

Why should attendees at All About the API make sure to attend your session and visit your booth?

Bilbruck: APIs for health, wellness, and aging are a huge growth market that not many developers are focused on today. The revenue potential for developers to gain in these verticals is great, and competition is small at this time. There is huge opportunity for groups to gain traction in an emerging market with little competition today and low barriers of entry.

Executive Editor, TMC

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