API usage by industry shows that APIs are no longer just the domain of technology companies. APIs are being adopted across every industry, by all types of organisations, with the fastest growth in usage coming from more traditional sectors.
When the idea of API driven growth comes to mind, you think first of technology companies with venture funding, or you think of large enterprise software providers. While technology companies still account for a significant amount of API calls as an industry, overall volume is now mostly from traditional industries.
API traffic by industry
A study of companies running an API platform by Google Cloud shows the breakdown of API usage by industry:
Source: Google Cloud’s State of APIs 2020
You can see technology companies account for just over a third of API traffic with Retail & Travel making up the other third, and the remaining industries combining for the final third of API traffic.
Put differently, 66% of API traffic comes from organisations that are not technology companies. That is, the bulk of API usage is now from traditional or legacy organisations using APIs to power their organisations and partner with others.
API traffic growth by industry
The same report from Google Cloud also provides data on API traffic growth by industry:
The impact of COVID-19 is seen in API traffic growth, with Healthcare & Life seeing a 400%+ increase in API traffic.
Setting this unusual disruption aside, Financial Services and Telecommunications both experienced more growth in API traffic than Technology Companies.
These growth rates point to significant change ahead in the overall share of API traffic volume for traditional industries.
Behind these high level statistics are real world examples of industries and organisations have been transformed by APIs:
- Financial Services: The UK Open Banking initiative had over 1 billion API calls in May 2022
- Retail: Woolworths (Australia’s largest supermarket chain) provides over 1,000 APIs across 10 businesses that partners and employees can use.
- Manufacturing: Mercedes has 19,000+ developers registered for their API.
- Public Sector: The Singapore Government has 100 million API calls per month across 2,400 APIs.
What it means
APIs are now an essential part of the economy, regardless of industry. Their continued growth and the level of that growth, particularly from traditional industries, indicates that there is still a significant amount of change still to take place.
The growth rates of APIs for Financial Services and Telecommunications, for example, means that these sectors will start to take larger and larger shares of API call volume. The UK’s Open Banking initiative further underscores the explosion in usage that is taking place in this sector.
It’s not just these higher growing sectors, every sector is experiencing meaningful growth and every sector has meaningful examples of non-technology companies implementing APIs at significant scale, with real world use cases and commercial benefits.
These numbers, particularly the growth numbers, show that APIs as an initiative or strategic opportunity are important to pay attention to. They aren’t in decline or steady state. They are still growing significantly and, for many industries, seem to just be getting started.