How to Improve your Business Performance with APIs

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Businesses that want to achieve streamlined processes and excellent customer service are turning to APIs. Here are some of the reasons why they are becoming so important.

APIs as building blocks

Application programming interfaces (APIs) provide building blocks to make your different business solutions work together. They can be used to unlock information from systems, add it into processes, and deliver customer experiences. They can speed up development time for innovative new approaches and can be reused and scaled up, making changes easier to implement.

Google has APIs that allow its maps and You Tube videos to be embedded on web pages. The Adobe Sign API allows developers to integrate electronic signatures into their applications. APIs are often behind online ticket booking services, access to information on social media, and our satnav systems

APIs and digital transformation

While there have been concerns about data breaches due broken or inadequate authentication and data protection practices, properly implemented APIs are becoming important for effective service delivery.

For unified communications (UC) integration and collaboration, APIs are becoming essential for almost every application. With the help of APIs user experience can become a central feature of digital transformation, driving continued business growth.

Uses of APIs

While APIs aren’t a new idea, their popularity is growing because of market leaders like Twilio, whose APIs allow you to explore information about your phone account and numbers, your calls, text messages, and recordings. You can even make outbound calls and send text messages.

Nexmo, the Vonage API platform, claims to streamline the creation of personalised and intuitive communication experiences with chat, video and voice solutions as well as text messaging and real-time connectivity data.

APIs are enabling Communication Platforms as a Service (CPaaS) where innovation and development can take place independently of core systems. For building security APIs can support Access Control as a Service (ACaaS) which will allow identity checks and access to be managed remotely.

The power of APIs

Another reason for the growing popularity of APIs is that you don’t need to be a programmer or technical expert to use them.

For example, the Typeform API allows you to easily deliver quizzes, contact forms, and signup forms to mobile devices. The API can translate the information you collect and automatically add it to the right fields in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, email marketing platforms and databases.

When you use several APIs together you can achieve even more powerful integration of information and processes.

Connectivity using APIs

Traditionally, business systems might be connected on a project by project basis. With this approach multiple interconnections can quickly become complicated to manage, making faults almost impossible to find. IT teams will often struggle to keep up with demand and limited budgets slow down implementation.

APIs are now becoming part of organisation-wide integration strategies. While enterprise-wide data might previously have been held in silos, using APIs for connectivity can allow information to be shared and used more effectively. Legacy applications and data sources can be unlocked and used to add value to your business.

API connectivity approaches

A number of different approaches to APIs can offer flexible solutions that are easy to manage.
  • System APIs – internal users can access information in core systems but don’t have to understand complex background processes. They can continue to work, even when underlying systems change.
  • Process APIs – data from one or more systems can be independently accessed, processed and delivered to a web page, for example.
  • Experience APIs – when ease of use is important APIs can be used to access and configure data from multiple sources and to format information. For example, they can provide real time inventory or order status information for self-service customers.

Efficiency improvements through API connectivity

When you develop connectivity solutions using APIs you are creating assets that your business can reuse and re-purpose.

For example, wholesalers have to manage a variety of detailed processes across their communications networks. These are often controlled with technology such as network function virtualisation (NFV). APIs can be used to improve and simplify delivery, flexibility and scalability throughout the wholesale chain.

Business benefits of an API approach

Maximising use of your data – APIs can be used to release the power of your business data.
Reducing duplication – the ability to reuse API solutions allows you to deliver and develop new approaches more quickly to complement a service-oriented approach (SOA).
Improving control – with more traditional approaches small changes can have a significant impact, especially when they affect core systems. With a more modular API, the effect of changes can be more accurately predicted and managed.
Providing flexibility – using APIs means that each solution can be tailored to fit your business needs.
Delivering agility – while traditional IT solutions are carefully specified and controlled, this can often reduce flexibility. Where appropriate to your business, APIs can provide flexibility to innovate and explore new opportunities.
Enabling customer self-service – the ability to respond quickly to changing customer needs allows businesses to remain relevant and competitive.

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