Ensuring the growth of your enterprise while the application ecosystem continues to broaden; you are likely looking to revamp your digital business initiatives to achieve the following objectives-
- Delivering exceptional digital experiences to customers on mobile devices
- Giving easy access to employees and partners to enterprise data anywhere, anytime
- Expanding markets and revenue streams through multiple channels
However, to implement a digital strategy seamlessly, enterprises need to be able to launch new apps and coordinate their digital presence with partners.
Given this, Application Programming Interfaces (API) can serve as the connective tissue between enterprise data, digital content, and the apps and partners over the web.
APIs are a key component in driving the digital transformation of the business - they empower developers to build applications across any channel and enable partners to incorporate the data or services into their offerings. As you provide easy access to your services to other organizations, you lay a foundation for value and growth opportunities.
So how do you start creating and managing an API program while mitigating the risk and challenges of exposing your assets outside the enterprise?
This blog will give you a glimpse of how a comprehensive API strategy can be successfully adopted for further business development.
What is API?
APIs or Application Programming Interfaces are connecting elements that facilitate different apps, platforms, and systems to connect and exchange data with each other. These could be legacy technology, third-party SaaS apps, custom business apps, and connected devices to communicate seamlessly for providing a unified view of the customer journey, thereby supporting informed decision-making in an organization.
The reason behind APIs getting popular among enterprises of all sizes is their flexibility to allow faster innovation. Changes can be easily incorporated into an organization where more people can contribute towards its success.
They bring twofold benefits: the company can engineer better products and maintain an edge against competitors. And second, they make monetization easier. Being present on more platforms means companies can sell more ad space.
For example, Uber instead of creating its mapping, payment, or communication services connected them all via APIs. Twitter also improvised its UI by letting TweetDeck create an intuitive UI atop of its engine for seamless user experience.
Business Benefits and Challenges of APIs
Here are some API benefits mentioned below-
- Clean-slate Approach
One of the prominent advantages of using an API-first design is how easy it is to build the API and the app that will depend on it, with almost negligible consideration of any existing IT framework.
Stakeholders involved in the project can discuss and collaborate in a bid to design, implement, and ultimately document a well-built and pre-planned API even before creating the application and all the channels that will utilize it.
Simply put, there won’t be any restrictions on the development process as well as the iT infrastructure to be built on. It can be tailored to suit the API rather than losing on standard design, which generally is the case when developing the app first.
This approach ensures that you lay an outline for an API and also get feedback from all the stakeholders before initiating the design phase of the project. The final design would be as expected by stakeholders and will meet the needs of the final consumers.
- Adaptable to Change
It might be difficult for companies to treat an API independently from the implementation of the app, however, this approach makes it easier to decouple the process of app implementation and API development.
This way, your API is not just a layer but also a separate contract and specification upon which the implementation depends.
API-first approach ensures flexibility to scale and optimize as the business application evolves. Given this, you don’t need to make changes to your API, rather your application grows steadily, thereby making space for new features and growth opportunities.
Since change is inevitable, it is considered best to plan for your API evolution before initiating the process of application implementation to mitigate the risk involved in bringing any new change.
- Better Marketing
APIs lay a strong foundation for digital marketing. The programming interface simplifies the cross-channel integration, reduces the time dedicated to routine tasks, and offers quick access to important customer data.
Besides, APIs also support personalization, which undoubtedly is an indispensable part of marketing to engage customers.
APIs can provide data at the granular level to effectively personalize the experience for customers at the right time and the right place.
Marketers can leverage it to reach the right audience with accurate data analysis and greater flexibility to target people across networks.
- Reduced Costs and Time to Market
Another prominent benefit of an API-driven strategy is reduced development effort and faster time to market.
Most of the functionalities required by developers are already present into an application, thus saving valuable time and resources which otherwise would have been utilized for reinventing the wheel.
So, relying on fully-functional third-party APIs can prove cost-effective and also help developers to put more focus into adding unique features to the application quickly, which again would save money and resources for enterprises.
Above all, the changing technology landscape disrupting workforces, customer expectations, and even entire industries has made it paramount for businesses to deliver quickly and cost-effectively.
The most common challenges occurring while implementing the API initiatives are-
- Lack of Analytics
With no feedback mechanism to capture customer usage or investment makes the allocation of the costs related to API development and operation difficult.
- Security at Scale
Although APIs are known for flexibility to innovation, however, without appropriate precautions they can expose their digital enterprise assets to cyber-criminals.
- API Maintenance and Versioning
When multiple teams within an organization create an API, tracking usage and maintaining consistency becomes challenging.
- Technical Constraints
Once executed, an API can put considerable strain on the already existing technology platform, which must be able to support a high volume of calls.
Consider These 6 Points Before Venturing Into Your API Journey
Business stakeholders must understand that delivering great digital experiences require secure, easy, and reliable access to enterprise functionality- and also that the current integration techniques are inappropriate to keep the pace with rapid changes happening around.
Hence, to lay a strong foundation for the future and economize on the increasing demand for customer touchpoints, you need to operationalize the given points-
- Business APIs are different from Traditional APIs
Business APIs ensure that you project your company in a secure, scalable, digital way by using the language and semantics of your enterprise. On the other hand, traditional APIs expose functionality from an individual system - like a CRM or e-commerce platform.
- Get your CTO and CMO on the same page
It is IT who is held responsible for building the service layer, but marketing, product, and operations are among its incredibly important consumers. Without the former, you can’t have any business APIs and without the latter, you will be only creating those business APIs that nobody will use or even know about.
- Know what your business needs to portray
List out the business capabilities based on the priority in decreasing order irrespective of the underlying systems involved. For a publisher, is it the distribution of an entire catalog of content in a consistent way?
For a loyalty firm, is it an easy and secure interface that allows anyone to earn, redeem, and trade points?
In case your company also creates reliable business APIs that take into consideration this language - and not that of your software applications - others will have everything they need to build great digital experiences on their own.
- Avoid going rogue with point or cloud solutions
Offering exceptional digital experiences demand the combined power of your company’s entire application portfolio. Trying to strengthen your touchpoints with a platform or cloud product that doesn’t provide integrated access to core functionality- customer data, product information, and business processes would simply result in unsatisfying, perfunctory experiences that are not unified with the rest of your digital presence.
- Focus Business APIs on users first
Once you understand what your business wants to portray, you can either buy or build the technology that you need to make it happen from the top down.
Take into account how you want people to consume your services first, rather than moving forward from the bottom with individual software platforms.
If you implement a service layer that is adaptable and loosely coupled to these underlying applications, they become largely invisible and insignificant to API consumers- which is exactly what you want.
- Embrace self-serve
When you have a Business API layer, you can enable everyone who is not a core technology resource - be it marketing, product, operations, partners, agencies, contractors, and even the general public, take up arduous work of creating, maintaining, and experimenting with customer touchpoints.
Once this effort is unloaded in a self-serve model, IT can focus on developing secure, reliable core capabilities that will create long-term business value and also form the essential basis for future digital experiences.
A clear and realistic API strategy ensures that your users are empowered enough to access data and integrate systems.
Thus building, integrating, and managing APIs efficiently is a key factor for participating in a digital ecosystem.
Organizations that embrace digital transformation will be able to strengthen the reach of their core business, connections with their partners and customers, and encourage and develop innovations that deliver persistent profits.
So, whether you want to incorporate APIs into your IT framework or want to develop an API, Srijan has your back.
Srijan ensures that enterprises increase their operational efficiency through technology to achieve performance goals; APIs are playing a huge role in making that happen.