How are "API first" organizations different, structurally?

What have you seen as the organizational implications of “API first” or “everything is an API” style organizations? Amazon is often quoted as an example of such an organization - are you aware of others that you could share?

While APIs allow for decoupling of dependencies from a software perspective - do they offer the same/similar benefits from a org structure perspective.


I would honestly say there are no true API first organizations out there. I would say there are many where API is a tp priority (including Amazon), but behind the scenes every organization struggles with keeping APIs a priority, let alone achieve an API-first reality.

However, this should stop others from believing, hoping, and striving for the dream. The Amazon Yegges / Bezos myth story is one of the most powerful I’ve seen. I’ve seen the story framed on the walls of banks and on the IT landing page for federal government agencies. It is important to understand that this is a myth, but also that much of our reality is driven by mythical stories.

The decoupling you mention is definitely a valuable realization from doing APIs, and adopting a microservices mindset. They have the potential to decouple the technology, as well as the business, and the culture / politics of organizations as you mention. However, this is also why I can’t point to any true API-first organizations, because this stuff is really hard to do. It will be even harder to do right, without damaging what keeps an organization together, moving forward in unison.

However, the journey is an important one because decoupling tech, business, and culture requires us to ask a lot of questions along the way – this will be the value of striving for an API-first vision, then secondarily the APIs themselves, and the agility they offer.