In Application Programming Interface (API) development sometimes focus seems to lean into technical aspects like API management solutions. APIs are still and foremost also business-critical solutions.
Sometimes discussion of APIs is limited to the technical domain when APIs are viewed only from an IT perspective. It is true that APIs are a method to integrate also low-level backend systems together, but currently, APIs have become the main driving factor of business growth. APIs act as the bridge between technology and businesses, providing data, creating profitable partnerships, and creating possibilities for innovation and growth. Although APIs are still important to developers as the developers are the users of API services.
API vs integration
APIs and integration technology are basically similar. Integration technology reduces the time to value of the APIs and APIs facilitate certain aspects of integration. API initiatives require integration technologies and API-enabling technologies are essential components in each strategic integration infrastructure.
API allows developers to build applications that can interface with the system or create new interfaces or applications on top of existing systems. Integration is just about facilitating interaction between two machines or systems over a network, whereas API acts as an interface between two applications.
Traditional integration is a great tool for integrating low-level backend systems but business-wise APIs can bring real value to creating possibilities to create customer-valued services.
So why APIs are business-critical?
Instead of general integration, APIs provide real business value as API connects digital ecosystems, data, and end-users together. APIs also can help to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Sometimes your business does not need real-time data. For example, if data is sent in big chunks a couple of times per year. Then you might relate to different types of integrations. APIs are always starting from business and processes.
If you have one end-user with one non-real-time need, it might be good to consider the necessity of API.
Example case about benefits:
- In an old way, the customers are using direct phone contact to the customer team to solve their problems or order service. Then the order will take a few days to receive.
- Order online service makes it possible for one person to take care of the order and then receive it via email. Then it needs to be sent to the employer accountant via email.
- In the most recent way, the order is received via API to employers’ account software in real-time. There is no need for extra work.
- Cost-saving: Information is available in real-time without any manual process or human interaction
- Time-saving: No more waiting or pending
- Process: Improve process, no more manual steps or human interaction. Automation.
- Customer satisfaction: Everything can be done without any hassle and customers can fetch the data real-time as many times as needed
- Data: Is always up to date and correct
In this case, the business impact is inevitable. Automation brings benefits for the business and process-wise in form of cost, time, improvement, data, and especially customer satisfaction.
How to start an API journey?
Few things to consider:
- Think or re-think your business model. Find the right value proposition for your API. Define impact on the business model.
- Create Lean API-centric architecture. Follow the Minimum Viable API Architecture process.
- Build API. Prototype, build or scale depending on what architecture phase you are on.
- Audit your API. Use the checklists to verify your API meets style, API management, and security needs. Have permission from the business.
- Publish the API.
- Mind the Developer Experience: Support and build developer community.
- Measure business and technical KPIs to reach goals.
- Learn from the results and improve your API and the process. Or learn the method for the first time.
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