The Benefits of APIs
An application programming interface (API) is a set of tools used to build and allow communication between different applications. These tools bridge two types of software, allowing them to share data and execute tasks when they meet predefined parameters.
As the Internet continues to grow and shift how we do business, it becomes clear that there are ways to build an API that allows for fast, responsive work to be done. Here are some of the ways APIs can be a benefit to businesses.
Create Connectivity and Community
APIs have the primary goal of creating channels of communication between different applications. As more and more business tasks get relegated to automation, APIs ensure that the automation software used for these tasks can communicate.
Since APIs automate communication between applications, collaborative work becomes easier. Anyone with permission to view data between applications can review what the applications are doing, allowing team members to work with the data as it comes in rather than waiting for someone to process it.
Allow Room for Innovation
Thanks to this near-instant communication offered by APIs, innovation has excelled forward. Before, services were limited to whatever silo they found themselves within. Technology applications would not be able to communicate with finance or service applications.
Now, APIs allow for this information to be used by different applications, regardless of their silo. This has opened up time and effort that allows for new integrations to be discovered and utilized. Innovation is how a business stays competitive, so ignoring a possible innovation tool could leave a business behind.
Improve Customer Experience
Customers are what drives a business forward. Without customers, a business has no revenue to produce its service, pay its employees, and develop. Customers become repeat buyers when they know that they are getting a quality service. APIs make this service faster and easier to maintain.
An API allows for a business’s customer service experience to be faster. Allowing the easy integration of data that a customer would provide with a customer service department’s software decreases any lag time there might be with providing that data.
Also, opening an API up to customers allows them to see information that allows them to make informed decisions about a company’s services. It also lets a customer personalize their experience, making them feel empowered and respected.
How to Use an API to Maximum Benefit
Once a business’s leadership decides to integrate an API into their business, they’ll want to ensure it is as effective as possible. This fact is especially true if the API becomes a service the business offers. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing an API:
Identify Where an API Provides Value
An API needed to provide value to be worth its cost. In general, this means that an API needs to fill a gap in application communications that causes slowdowns or frustrations from customers. One of the best ways to determine where an API can do the most good for businesses is to explore the customer journey in buying products or services.
Find places where a customer could leave or give up on the buying process and see if that issue can be automated. One example of this could be in data pulls from a customer profile when trying to confirm a purchase.
Hone the APIs Central Governance
Once it’s been decided to use or create multiple APIs for businesses and customers to use, having a central location to monitor them is critical. Without these monitoring tools, a business cannot fetch data on areas where the APIs are lacking or slowing down. A central governance tool gives access to that information.
Part of establishing this governance tool will be assigning roles and responsibilities to those team members who will monitor the governance tool. Make sure that the roles are clear and defined within the team and that everyone has the permissions they need to fix issues as they come up.
Scale Usage Resources as Needed
As an API sees adoption in the marketplace, the need to monitor the resource usage of the tools becomes necessary. APIs require hardware resources just like any other software. This requirement means that, as more users try to connect through API, a business will need to commit more resources to support that API.
This is another reason why the central governance tool is so important. A system operator won’t be able to tell when it is time to upgrade unless they have a monitoring tool in place. By using the governance tools and customer feedback, the sysop can keep up with demands without too many difficulties.
APIs offer opportunities to integrate applications in ways not seen before. By understanding what an API can do for business and keeping those benefits in mind while developing the API, developers can excel in API service delivery.
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