In today’s hyper-connected digital world, consumers have discovered new channels to educate themselves, as well as consume different products and services. They are attuned to cutting-edge technology innovations like IoT, Artificial Intelligence, voice assistants, chatbots & smartphones. As a result, enterprises are under tremendous pressure to deliver unique, valuable, seamless, and personalized on-demand services and experiences.
For companies that wish to be disruptors, instead of being disrupted by competitors, the need for speed and agility has never been greater. The only way forward to unlock digital potential is the adoption of API-driven strategies.
As per Google’s “State of the API Economy 2021” report, the COVID-19 pandemic & changing market conditions have created an urgency among organizations to accelerate their digital transformation journeys.
Today, APIs have become a requisite for businesses to foster agile innovation, quickly adapt to market changes, outpace competitors, grow new revenue streams, and forge profitable partnerships.
They are the connective tissue that simplifies communication between disparate applications & drive the digital transformation aspirations of enterprises, enabling them to be future-ready. However for APIs to work cohesively and effectively, enterprises need to first chalk out an API-driven strategy.
Why is an API-driven Strategy Important For Businesses?
Over the years, companies have built and stored colossal amounts of valuable data about their customers, products, supply chains, operations, and much more. However, they have not been completely effective in deriving business value out of it. A missed opportunity at best and a substantial error at worst.
Today, digital ecosystems require businesses to deliver relevant information to the right people at the right time. The mere presence of a large number of resources, such as applications and developers, no longer showcases your competencies in the right way. Instead, it is about how efficiently you leverage the insights (data) and services across your business.
As a result, there has been an uptrend in IT integration. Earlier, CIOs considered integration as a stumbling block. But now, they are using integration as a competitive advantage by using APIs to drive innovation within the organization. Ultimately, it all boils down to how well you leverage your abilities and resources; taking the things you already do well and extracting business value from them.
Further, as traditional business models become obsolete, APIs can act as catalysts to spur growth and even create new revenue paths. However, this approach requires a shift in thinking.
New integration methods do not just connect applications - but also focus on exposing information within and beyond your organizational boundaries.
The commercial potential of the API economy can be leveraged, when various business stakeholders get involved. Customer experience, global expansion, omnichannel engagement, & regulatory compliance are heart-of-the-business processes; all of them can be managed effectively by simply exposing, orchestrating, and monetizing services through APIs.
So, whether your organization is at the early, developing, or mature stage of your digital transformation process, API-driven strategies are essential to help you realize your vision and achieve your business goals.
Business Benefits of Embracing an API-driven Strategy
- Ubiquitous Customer Experience
Today, customers expect a personalized, consistent, and seamless interaction with service providers, anytime and anywhere. For instance, a customer searching for a new dress expects a well-defined, branded shopping experience. Regardless of whether she is searching for it online through a mobile device or at a physical store, the same optimized interface, and experience. The same seamless expectation extends to sharing the discovery experience with her friends via social media.
The experience is flawlessly continuous; the next morning, she receives a text alert from the same retailer recommending the matching accessories and scarves that match the dress and subsequently chooses one.
APIs can drive this omnipresent connectivity across the organization; not only for the parent organization (retailer), but also across business partners and even other entities, with which no formal business relationship exists.
Organizations can also extend their core services via APIs. They enable multiple platforms & service integration to boost customer reach and provide unique experiences.
This is how APIs support organizations in exposing their integrated, curated data assets, and services as RESTful APIs for easy, real-time access by external entities.
- Faster Time to Market
An API-first architecture accelerates the development process as APIs are modular and reusable. The developers do not need to write code for every functionality from scratch or even consolidate two completely different applications. Instead, they can take integration as their starting point and continue working from there. APIs make it simple to use microservices, i.e., you can add the standalone features over and above any application.
Further, once you have built or bought a new API, your front-end and back-end teams start working simultaneously, instead of waiting for each other to complete tasks. The features do not have to be built on top of each other; they just have to be plugged into the same API.
Faster time-to-market gives a competitive edge to the companies. Therefore, saving development time also implies cost benefits.
Let's take the example of Netflix. As an organization, they have a robust API architecture in place. In 2008 they introduced their first public API, where developers can create applications to communicate with the streaming service. Gradually, they evolved their API architecture to introduce customizable APIs that made multiple endpoints more manageable on the server and accelerated innovation through fast, decoupled development.
- Bridging the Technology Gap
Organizations, before embarking on their digital journeys, should analyze and identify the outdated applications or systems that no longer work with their business processes.
Their existing infrastructure might support core services or processes, but, at the same time, they might be unsure of how to overcome or eliminate legacy system limitations. Such challenges might make teams hesitant to implement modernization initiatives or introduce new technologies.
This is where APIs come in. APIs successfully bridge the gap between legacy systems and new technologies in such a way they work together in tandem.
With APIs at the heart of IT infrastructure, organizations can use existing systems and data, and drive the adoption of innovative technologies, such as AI, ML, etc.
Also, APIs are pivotal, if you decide to design or redesign your architecture using a microservices approach. Microservices tend to provide more flexibility in managing, enhancing, extending, and deploying applications and systems.
You can think of internal systems as building blocks & APIs as the connectors between them to smoothly structure and restructure internal systems, as well as & flexibly support new projects and technologies. You can also plan for and respond to new business opportunities.
- Foster digital innovation
Uncovering hidden data and creating new services can help enterprises discover new or previously unthought-of business opportunities. Existing partners, prospective partners, and third-party developers wish to drive innovation and build new products on the basis of customer needs. However, enterprises do not realize that data can nudge them in the right direction.
For instance, a financial institution might be interested in using the mobile location data of its users as an early detection option for credit card fraud. So, if a customer lives in Hampden South, but calls are initiated in New York, the financial institution can monitor the activity and red-flag the account to determine if their customer is traveling or the card has been stolen.
That is how enterprises need to take advantage of data that is obtained from unrelated sources, as long as the data is relevant to their business operations.
How To Get Started With Your API Journey
If your organization is ready to implement APIs and take advantage of the benefits they offer, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Find an API-first Vendor
Select the API-first vendor based on your business needs. Focus on:
- Software expertise
Check whether the vendor offers coding & testing in the languages you prefer, apart from other leading programming languages. They should provide you with the flexibility to adapt according to future API needs.
- Project management capabilities
Vendors should have vast experience working with different industries from IT, banking to real estate, construction, and everything in between. This level of expertise will help vendors accurately estimate costs, technology requirements, timelines, and resource requirements.
- Communication capabilities
Project managers who are good at keeping communication with both parties can help you get back on track if they sense something is not going according to the set project goals.
- Development methodologies
The vendor should follow the agile development methodology and Scrum techniques that fit nicely into DevOps & CI/CD environments and enable new APIs / updates to go live faster.
- Best Practices for Leveraging APIs
After formulating an API strategy for your business, you will have to delve into specific strategies, each time a new API project begins. Here are some of the best practices that you should always consider-
- Maintain detailed documentation to keep yourself familiar with the concept of APIs.
- Maintain a tracker of the APIs you are using.
- Try utilizing an open & API-led architecture that adapts well to your changing needs, now and in the future.
How Businesses Prefer To Use APIs Today
Delivering unique customer experiences across multiple platforms and devices has become a key driver for API adoption. As a result, headless API architecture is becoming the norm to address multi-platform requirements.
Srijan’s Headless EzContent is a perfect example. Our award-winning Drupal distribution comes with out-of-the-box APIs that enable enterprises to build digital experiences beyond traditional websites. Developers can make use of EzContent to build experiences in mobile, voice, extended reality, digital signage, and other channels.
Your Next Move
Now that it is evident APIs have become critical to achieving digital success, It is high time you think about what you should do next.
To understand how Srijan can accelerate your digital transformation initiatives through platform and API strategies, Get in touch with us right away. We’d love to have a conversation.