With so many online tools available today, businesses need an effective way to work across multiple platforms, advancing their operations and streamlining their processes. To achieve such results requires knowledge about application programming interfaces (APIs) and expertise in integrating them into existing IT infrastructure.
If you want to create an efficient and effective platform, it’s important to consider how different systems can work together. API integration enables businesses to send and receive data from other companies and applications, rather than independently connecting each app individually.
If you want to create an efficient and effective platform, it’s important to consider how different systems can work together.
What exactly is API integration? API stands for Application Programming Interface, and integration means to bring together two different systems into one unified whole. So if you put the two together, API integration means bringing different applications together into one unified whole by using specific protocols.
In essence, an API integration can be as simple as connecting one application with another application over the internet, or it can be as complex as creating an automated system that allows completely different businesses to exchange information seamlessly.
Read more: How Do APIs Work?
Why Is API Integration Important for Your Business?
Business applications and systems need to be able to talk to each other, and they often use APIs to do that. An API allows two pieces of software to communicate. As a standalone entity, an API doesn’t have much value, but when paired with another program or system (or — better yet — multiple other programs and systems), it connects the pieces of a bigger picture.
APIs are increasingly necessary for businesses seeking to extend their operations without increasing overhead costs.
APIs are increasingly necessary for businesses seeking to extend their operations without increasing overhead costs. Not only do they allow companies to communicate more effectively with one another, but they also work as the building blocks for making day-to-day processes more efficient, eliminating mundane tasks.
Best of all, once you set up an API for one system/program/process, you can essentially apply those same principles to others — meaning you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you create new connections in your tech stack.
What are Benefits of API Integrations?
There are many ways an organization can make use of an API. Here are nine ways your business might benefit from implementing one.
- Extensibility: APIs give users multiple options on how they use your product offering, rather than restricting them to a single method of interaction with it.
- Flexibility: Opening up a specific feature through an API gives users additional flexibility in their usage pattern.
- Customer satisfaction: Enabling new features via APIs increases customer satisfaction while reducing support costs.
- Lowering development costs: Opening key functionalities as APIs helps speed up time-to-market.
- Improving architecture and service design: When developing or modifying products, creating APIs can make it easier to build stronger architectural foundations.
- Increasing revenue opportunities: Launching new products or services by providing access via an API helps increase monetization opportunities.
- Wider market exposure: Providing access to customers around the world can help increase market penetration.
- Cross-selling and upselling opportunities: By using API providers’ capabilities within your application, it becomes possible to cross-sell or upsell other products that make sense within those capabilities.
- Risk mitigation: By creating robust APIs, some enterprise organizations are lowering their overall risk profile, as they are less dependent on only one service provider.
Read more on TechRepublic: How ‘Vendor Engineering’ Can Help Tame Your API Complexity
Risks of API Integrations
If you’re thinking about integrating your systems with another program or platform via an API, there are a lot of potential issues to consider. Here are nine risks of API integration that you need to know.
- Security: The question isn’t just what information will be passed back and forth, but also, is that data transference process secure? Anything that goes into your system or touches your data should have been carefully vetted. Some APIs are open-source, some are proprietary. If you use a proprietary one, you will want to make sure they have a solid reputation in terms of security vulnerabilities and support services.
- Wrong data: APIs can be used for communication between different companies and networks, which means passing along data from one place to another can potentially lead to problems.
- Losing control: You may want to rely on an existing API, but at some point, they could stop supporting it and leave you with holes in your system where functionality used to be.
- Limited functionality: You may want certain features built into or removed from your software. If someone else has taken over those functions in their software, then you don’t have much recourse if something happens that you don’t like.
- Time-consuming: Integrating two complex pieces of software takes time, sometimes too much time.
- Not scalable: Scalability is all about growing without losing anything — functionality, security, or whatever else matters most to your company — and sometimes things get lost when integrating apps.
- Outdated tech: Just because something works now doesn’t mean it will always work.
- Data lock-in: When one system is pulling data from another, deciding to pull data from another source can involve a lot more development and engineering resources.
- Single vendor: Similar to data lock-in, using only a single vendor can make processes freeze or slow down in the event of your vendor going out of business, or changing their terms or pricing structures.
- Changes happen fast: If you aren’t using up-to-date APIs, you could find yourself having trouble interacting with them after just a few years.
Read more on Developer.com: API Testing Tips, Tools, and Types
Right now is an amazing time for businesses to take advantage of API integration and tie in with third-party applications. APIs open your doors to innovative, third-party tools that can help you grow your business in a multitude of ways. Many APIs allow you to access detailed analytics, enabling better user engagement and, in turn, increased sales.
Some APIs are intuitive enough for people without coding experience to use successfully.
While some may argue that implementation requires technical know-how, some APIs are intuitive enough for people without coding experience to use them successfully. As long as you conduct thorough research on which platforms would be best suited for your business, and have a solid plan on how to use them effectively, incorporating some form of API integration is well worth your time.