As the world increasingly becomes digital, more and more companies are turning to APIs (application programming interfaces) as a way to connect with their customers and partners. API product managers are responsible for ensuring that their companies' APIs run smoothly and are easy to use.
How do they do this? Are these people wizards, the chosen ones with that special genes or maybe just evolved humans with superpowers like the X-men? Is there enough knowledge out there for everyone to have an API product manager?
If you're interested in learning more about what it takes to be an API product manager, keep reading! What is an API Product Manager?
Why do companies with APIs need an API Product Manager
54% of organizations said that one of their top 3 API strategy challenges is finding people for a specific key role - API Product Manager! The other 2 are the safety and security of their API programs and getting valuable API metrics that aren’t just surface operational ones like uptime and errors.
API product managers' responsibilities are managing all of the components of their company's APIs, including design, implementation, analytics, security, and operation.
Safety and security are becoming the most urgent concerns when it comes to APIs!
In 2022. we’ve seen an increase in API-related attacks by a staggering 681%!
We’ve done some basic math, and from what has been reported, over 60M customer data were stolen in these attacks and from some pretty big companies like T-mobile. That number is just what we know of and what was actually reported. The actual number might be far greater.
As an API Product Manager, you should have the ability to track advanced API traffic analytics. Having information like where is the traffic coming from and being able to detect unusual traffic spikes from known hacker locations could be of the essence in 2023.
It’s on an API PM to know what tools can give them the information they need to keep their APIs safe. Depending on how you want to approach it, you might want to develop a tool like this internally or use Treblle or similar tools.
API analytics helps companies determine if their API is ready for monetization
There are many different ways that an API can be monetized. Some popular options include: per-call charges, monthly access fees, fees for integration into other services, and access for specific data types such as images and video.
Making the right choices when it comes to monetization can be a challenge for new API products, but the good news is that there are many resources available that can help API product managers find the information that they need in order to make the right choices.
Many APIs provide detailed case studies on how they make money from their products. Taking a closer look at these case studies is a great way to learn more about the various options that are available and determine which approach will work best for your product.
However, what analytical data should you be following to make an informed decision?
The API PM should work with developers, API testers, and other stakeholders to make the API as optimized as possible. This means you need to measure things like requests per minute, per day. It’s great if you can get an overview of traffic over the last few months as well, to see growth, spikes and potential drops.
To know if your APIs are optimized you could try and find a tool that can help you measure performance, security and speed. We have written about API Score and how it can help in previous articles.
Main responsibilities of an API Product Manager
API product managers should work closely with developers and designers to ensure that they understand their needs and expectations as they build new API products.
They must also work to ensure that their APIs are accessible to as many people as possible, which can sometimes be a challenge as technology standards continue to evolve.
They're responsible for working with other teams in the company to make sure that these various components work together seamlessly.
What is a typical day for an API Product Manager?
Day-to-day it involves a lot of meetings both internal and external with stakeholders such as engineers, developers, designers, project managers and executives. There is a lot of cross-team collaboration involved as well. Typically there are also weekly meetings with the engineering teams to prioritize feature requests and discuss timelines for release.
API product managers might come up with new features, streamline the backend, or try different pricing models. They might also run A/B testing on old features to see if they can be improved. Their jobs generally include organizing the engineering side of building the API and making sure everything is working properly.
They can also answer any questions about how to use this data source so that customers are satisfied. They can work with teams to develop tools for data analysts so they can make better use of their data in the future.
A good API product manager needs to be able to plan ahead for the next version release with as much detail as possible, so they know where their product development process is going.
Listening to customers and understanding user experience are also important for API product managers. They have to have excellent communication skills so they can relay customers' needs to their teams. They also need a great understanding of the technical details of their project so that they can keep up to date on what their team is working on.
The API product manager will need to ensure that the product being created delivers a good user experience across all devices. They will also need to be able to coordinate the development of the product across multiple teams and make sure that all team members are working according to the roadmap.
Finally, they will have to make sure that the products are developed according to industry standards and best practices.
Product Requirement Document
To make sure developers, API testers, and other stakeholders have the documentation they need, the API PM needs to create a product requirement document. This document should list all the features that the product will have as well as any extra functionality that it will need to support in the future.
By defining the features and functionalities of the product in advance, the PM will have an easier time developing and managing it. As a product manager, it is important that the API conforms to the current industry standards and is interoperable with other APIs. This is especially important as companies start to move toward more complex APIs that interact with multiple other APIs and databases.
A PM will need to communicate any changes to API clients and make sure integrations are working as expected. They will also need to work closely with the development, operations, and marketing teams to ensure that their API is used correctly. This is an ongoing process that will be ongoing once the API has been released to the public.
Wrap Up - Are You the Next API PM?
Whatever you decide, whether you are already working as a newly baked API Product Manager or you’re thinking of becoming one, keep in mind that this position is probably only going to grow in demand.
As we’ve seen an increase in API-relate attacks, having security taken care of will be a priority and after that put your head down to learn how to get all of the analytical data you need to make your API optimized and ready to be monetized.
Like always, stay hAPI!