2021 State of the API Report

Key Findings

Introduction

This year's State of the API report covers the largest and most comprehensive survey on APIs, ever. More than 28,000 developers and API professionals shared their thoughts on a range of topics, including their organizations' development priorities, how they get their work done, and where they see the industry going. We combined this data with data we've observed on the Postman API Platform to build a robust picture of the current state—and the future—of APIs.

Seven key findings

1) The pandemic changed the world, and the world responded with APIs

We asked respondents to share whether the pandemic affected their work—either how their business operated or how they worked with others in their organization. Just short of two-thirds of respondents stated that the pandemic somewhat or significantly affected their work. Perhaps surprisingly, more than one-third stated that the pandemic did not affect their work. For many developers and API professionals, work continued just as it was—with many progressive organizations having already adopted a remote-friendly or remote-first approach to work.

To individuals who stated that the pandemic affected their business operations or how they worked with others, we also posed the question, “Were your organization’s changes supported by APIs?” More than half said yes.

  • Organizations adopted new channels or enhanced existing channels to reach and serve customers in a pandemic world. Respondents told us that common areas of investment included e-commerce, customer support via chat and text, and contactless digital systems—all of which relied on APIs.
  • Many respondents had to adjust to tectonic shifts in market demand, with some businesses completely pivoting their product offering. For many, product rollouts relied on APIs, and organizations pivoted in weeks and months what would normally take years. Some businesses were even born in the pandemic to meet new needs.
  • Working from home presented new challenges for many organizations, too. APIs and integrations with internal systems helped solve these challenges by automating or enabling tasks that used to happen in person such as communication, attendance, reporting, and project management.
  • Some of the most frequently cited innovations came from healthcare, with many healthcare organizations needing to digitize and automate workflows and relying on APIs to do so.

As the pandemic suddenly changed everything, CarMax was able to quickly create and support new experiences and solutions for our customers, employees, and partners—much of which was due to APIs."

Shamim Mohammad, EVP and CIO/CTO at CarMax

2) The API ecosystem is global and growing

Over the past 12 months, Postman users signed in from an impressive 234 different countries and geographies while making 855 million API requests (up 56% from the prior year).

3) Developers are spending more time with APIs

How much time is spent working with APIs? 49% of respondents said that more than half of the organization's development effort is spent on APIs—compare that to just over 40% last year.

4) API investments stay strong

It appears organizations will continue investing in APIs: 94% of respondents stated that investment of time and resources into APIs will increase or stay the same for the next 12 months.

5) Quality is the top priority

We asked respondents to identify the top priorities for their organizations, and there was a clear winner: quality, coming in at 80%. Agility (66%) and reliability (65%) were next.

6) More companies are embracing the API-first philosophy

This year, 67% of survey respondents ranked themselves as a five or higher in terms of embracing an API-first philosophy, while only 62% ranked themselves in this way in 2020.

7) Being API-first pays off

We found that "API-first leaders" (as defined in the report) produce APIs more quickly, deploy more frequently, have fewer failures, and recover more swiftly when failures occur.