MapQuest Gets Direction From Better API Management

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2015-07-01 Email Print this article Print
API Management

One of the world's leading mapping services for businesses and consumers takes a direct route to better API management of a vast array of third-party services.

The Internet has revolutionized the way people use maps and directions. Paper maps have almost disappeared in favor of apps that make it simple to find a location using a tablet, smartphone or navigation system in a car.

At the center of all this is MapQuest, a pioneer in online mapping and a leading provider of data to a vast array of third-party services that interact with businesses and consumers. Overall, the firm boasts more than 40.2 million multiplatform users.

A key to the company's success is managing a vast library of APIs, which allow outside developers to accelerate processes, build new revenue models, and improve customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

"There is a major and renewed focus on the developer experience, particularly in the use of provisioning, documentation and analytics used in reporting," says Nate Abbott, vice president of product for MapQuest. "We recognized the need to find the best possible way to deliver APIs to developers."

This led MapQuest to Apigee's API Edge platform for digital business. The mapping firm—which has five core API groups that encompass about 40 individual APIs—wanted to boost self-provisioning and streamline various processes for developers.

Streamlining the Developer Experience

"We have a measure called TTFHW, which we call "Time to First Hello World," which is a critical factor," Abbot reports. "The ability to streamline the developer experience and build in analytics and business intelligence creates a significantly better experience and improves performance."

For example, when developers log into the MapQuest API portal, they encounter a basic table of usage. They are able to view the volume of resources they're using, peak thresholds, error rates, and other metrics and criteria, including response times. "They have access to rich analytics and automated alerts," Abbott says.

Additionally, with Apigee Edge, MapQuest can track and analyze various other business events and transactions, identify new markets, and gain better insights into the performance of developers, apps and APIs. In many cases, the solution is replacing code that can be up to 15 years old.

Particularly valuable is the ability to tap embedded analytics in order to identify issues and problems—and generate alerts. For example, in the past, Abbott recalls, MapQuest did not have a way to issue alerts when developers hit their quotas.

"We had manual processes, so an account manager would have to place a call to give a developer a warning," he explains. "Now, we have automated alerting for account usage. It avoids the problem that is common with API services in general."

In addition, MapQuest has gained better billing capabilities, along with an ability to qualify leads and move them into the sales funnel faster and more efficiently.

Finally, the solution has provided a far more robust dashboard with powerful custom reporting features. "It allows us to dig as deep as necessary to understand business opportunities and act smarter and better," Abbott says.

For example, "If we adopt a big marketing push around routing with multiple stops, this approach allows us to pick out the companies that might utilize the routes best—companies that might have opportunities to embed routes deeper in their stack—and focus on this from a marketing and business perspective."

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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