Why Enterprises need an API-first strategy

By Gaurav Mishra Aug 19, 2017

Digital transformation has been the headline of enterprise growth strategies for a few years now. It means being able to fundamentally transform and strengthen certain aspects of your business to leverage an increasingly interconnected digital ecosystem. It involves reducing dependence on legacy systems, breaking them into smaller, decentralized services, and becoming lean and swift in the face of changing trends. 

Adopting an API-first strategy is one of the most convenient ways to achieve your digital transformation goals. This is because they help you avoid a complete dismantling of your existing IT infrastructure, which can prove to be a costly affair. Instead, APIs can become the new wrapper around your legacy systems, allowing them to interact with modern applications. It’s a layer that brokers access to your tech-stack and databases while offering you greater controls and security. 

Here’s a look at why you need an API strategy for your enterprise:

Enabling Omni-Channel Customer Experiences

The ability to offer integrated, omni-channel customer experiences is fast becoming a necessity for enterprises, especially in industries like retail, banking, healthcare, and travel. And APIs are the key technical elements that make this possible.

Everything the customer needs is made available on one platform, bundled as a series of microservices and accessible across multiple channels. Your customers can start their journey with a query over a chat interface that is seamlessly carried over to evaluating your product on the mobile app, to completing the purchase on your website payment gateway, and collecting their purchase from your physical store. 

Customer information is no longer tied down to a particular mode of interaction. It is accessible across multiple channels/devices via API calls, giving your customers the convenience of picking up and completing their buyer’s journey at any point. This means significantly lower drop-offs and higher conversions for your business.

Extracting Rich Customer Insights

Truly understanding your customers’ wants and needs is at the heart of driving successful business growth. And enterprise legacy systems have a ton of customer data stored away, just waiting to be leveraged. What you need are internal APIs that will allow your current business intelligence technology to communicate with your legacy systems to extract this data. 

At the other end of the spectrum, enterprises also use APIs that allow them to integrate different services at key points in the customer journey. This creates interaction points that allow you to collect new customer information. It could be a social media API, or a payment gateway integration, or even an internal software component that prompts users to share more information. 

There could be another set of APIs that bridge the gap between your data, and visualization and reporting dashboards, allowing you to manipulate and analyze this data at will, drawing customer insights that drive your strategy.

Reducing Time to Market

An API-first strategy entails a complete paradigm shift in how collaboration takes place within an enterprise. When all data and information between departments can be accessed via API calls, it eliminates long wait times and improves productivity. 

More importantly, internal APIs make it possible for your product teams to work faster. Separate teams can be simultaneously working on different aspects of the product, while seamlessly coordinating with each other via APIs. This, coupled with quick and standardized access to data due to APIs, lead to significantly faster time-to-market for new products and services.

Revolutionary start-ups today are going head-to-head with established enterprises, and coming out ahead in a lot of cases. These organizations are designed to offer a seamless, holistic customer experience right from the beginning, playing to their strengths of being agile and highly efficient. And global enterprises, despite having decades of experience, run the risk of being disrupted. 

The only way to win the disruption game is to leverage the digital ecosystem to deliver greater value to your customers, and do it fast. And adopting an API strategy and focussing on API Management is one of the most efficient ways to prepare your enterprise for this challenge. 

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