Imagine your business processes and digital systems collaborating seamlessly to deliver an outstanding user experience. Imagine them working together in an evolving ecosystem. Welcome to the next generation of connectivity where digital systems share a common language based on APIs, application programming interfaces.
Role of APIs in the connected World
Many successful consumer services, such as Uber and Wolt, use APIs as their key building blocks. Business to business sector, in general, is slower, less agile, and less creative when it comes to digitalization. These companies often focus on digitalizing their existing business models and processes, rather than invest in digital growth opportunities.
APIs alone will not transform dinosaurs into unicorns, but they can help businesses automate manual processes and act as innovation generators. Smart API strategies and smart APIs push businesses gently towards a more holistic and connected way of thinking.
An API allows platforms and digital systems to communicate and share information with each other. This article will not go into technical detail, but it’s good to know that there are three main types of APIs:
Open APIs, aka Public APIs, are publicly available to developers and other users with no or minimal restriction.
Partner APIs are APIs exposed by/to the business partners.
Internal APIs, aka private APIs, are hidden from external users and only exposed by internal systems.
Regardless of the type, APIs offer businesses the opportunity to scale, foster innovation and reach a wider audience. How a business wins or loses is increasingly dependent on how well connected its internal and external apps, devices and services are.
Before reading any further, stop for a moment to think to which category your business belongs: are you focused on digitalizing your existing processes or are you using digitalization as a growth enabler? Are you happy with the current situation?
Benefits of Using APIs
Should you even care about APIs? If you believe in the power of connectivity the answer is yes, regardless of your background or position. At some point, you may reach a conclusion that they are not your cup of tea, but not evaluating APIs as an alternative (would be silly) might come and haunt you later.
APIs are like smart pieces of Lego, connecting previously siloed systems and processes. Using APIs can help businesses to gain the full benefits of what digitalization can offer. APIs as glue in the digital framework will make business processes more efficient, more reliable, and more straightforward. Key benefits of APIs include:
1. APIs increase efficiency in system development.
2. APIs streamline operations.
3. APIs provide better user experience.
4. APIs stimulate innovation.
Traditionally APIs have been developed to enhance business functionality for internal end-users by connecting systems such as business process management, web solutions, and mobile applications. Nowadays an increasing number of businesses develop APIs to support a network to share value with internal as well as external stakeholders, such as customers, partners, and suppliers.
Future Success with APIs
In the flux world future success of almost any business is based on integrated digital processes, not isolated digital systems. Instead of building individual services or solutions, successful businesses are not only able to see the big picture, but also capable of identifying and creating the relevant internal and external connections.
Successful businesses understand how technologies, including APIs, can be used to support existing and create new business processes. New innovations and growth opportunities will fly when strategies are translated into actions and concrete solutions. Success requires a shared vision and common language between business and technology. Additionally, both must understand people: what they want, why they want, how they want, and when they want.
The most successful digital businesses, Ubers and Airbnbs of tomorrow, are built on their own core applications and infrastructure complemented by API ecosystems. For instance, Uber uses Google Maps API to pull out the location data and their own Uber APIs provide opportunities for other businesses to develop on-demand service ideas.
With APIs the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Wunderdog knows how to build digital businesses, with or without APIs. We would be happy to help your digital business to gain momentum and thrive.
The article is based on a discussion with Miki, who is a developer at Wunderdog. Miki is passionate about the wonders APIs can do in building digital success stories. Currently, he acts as an API Product Owner at one of our telco clients.