Professionals across multiple industries, working both in the technology sector and elsewhere, have either an incorrect or vague idea about what does API stand for or what it means. Today, we aim to clear some of the most common misconceptions about APIs, and go a step further to establish what it does and how API management can increase your business’s bottom line.
The acronym ‘API’ stands for Application Programming Interface. Most organizations have at some point built custom and term APIs for either internal use or for providing seamless service to their customers.
Before we dive into the technicalities and the broader applications of APIs, let’s first take a step back and learn what it is and how it works:
But how do you explain API in plain English? And is there a broader meaning than the one used in development and business? First, let’s pull back and look at what an API is and how it works:
What Does API Stand For
Initially, APIs were typically integrated as operating system libraries. Which means APIs were limited to the systems on which they were operated. Their main purpose was to pass messages from one mainframe to another. It took about 30 years for APIs to evolve beyond the local environment. By 2000, APIs have gained immense popularity and became an integral part of advanced data integration.
API is a set of protocols and definitions that creates as well as integrates application software. APIs allow communication of your products and services with other products without the need of implementation guidelines. For instance, how Google and Facebook work seamlessly with smartphone apps and websites to log-in quickly. Not only does this simplify development, it saves considerable time and money for both software developers and their users.
Now that we have a clear idea of what an Application Programming Interface (API )is and what it does, let’s move forward and learn how it can add value to modern day businesses.
API Integration and What it Entails
When designing a new product, tool, or a piece of software, APIs allow developers to access, and simplify design and operation. Simultaneously, providing room for innovation.
Think of APIs as contracts, with the primary document representing the agreement between two parties (services). So if Party ONE forwards a specifically structured request remotely, Party TWO will respond in an intended manner.
APIs considerably simplify how your team of developers incorporate new applications into existing architecture, bridging the gap between IT and business teams. A business needs to evolve continuously in response to shifts in the digital market, where an innovative app by a competitor can change the course of the entire industry. So in order to stay competitive, a business must support innovative development and deployment of services.
Now that you know what API is and what it stands for, the term Application Programming Interface will make more sense to you. An API rapidly processes requests and enables seamless operations of your enterprise systems. API integration allows interaction between other devices and applications, delivering data while facilitating reliable connectivity between programs and devices. A good API allows enterprise applications to establish communications with the backend system.
A deployed API, whether it’s open source i.e. public API or web API, serves as a channel for a business to sell its offerings online. As a business, you can add specific codes and commands to your API to function precisely as you desire. This also ensures adherence to your company policy and guidelines, further bolstering functionality and enhancing connectivity between your organization and customers.
How do APIs Ensure Seamless Communication?
Applications we use on a daily basis on our smartphones display remarkable connectivity thanks to APIs. This is achieved by exchange of data between APIs. If you are wondering if it exposes critical information to unwanted parties, that is not possible. When APIs connect with one another they only share sets of data and commands on a need-to-know basis. Exposure to a product or service’s internal functions is limited. Either you’re sharing data with other products or services, or for internal operations. The receiver cannot access more than the shared information.
For instance, REST API enables Zomato app to display the location of the restaurant on Google Maps. This type of synergy between apps through API integration is what paves the way for innovation and better customer service.
API’s Potential to Transform your Business
API integration tools have now become the primary connective tissue allowing businesses to swiftly and securely exchange information and data with the world.
Most innovative, forward-thinking businesses are taking APIs rather seriously. They’ve adopted it and have already made it an integral part of their strategy. Why, you ask? There is a strong case for doing so. Once an organization adopts API, the result can be rather transformative. Businesses that have advanced API capabilities experience better business results as compared to other business who have basic API strategy or none at all.
To Close Off, a Few benefits of API Integration
Enhancing the customer experience
We are currently living in an age where customers are considered kings, who demand premium experiences. More than half (57%) of the customers worldwide have stopped buying from a provider if its competitors provide a better service. Each customer is different with varying needs. To provide a positive experience to all your customers, you have to stay ahead and leverage the capabilities of web based APIs.
Driving connectivity and collaboration
With changing technologies, processes and workflow within an organization, APIs ensure that collaboration and connectivity remain strong. This is why almost 50% of B2B collaborations occur through APIs. If companies didn’t have easier to develop APIs, they can’t remain competitive. Moreover, business connectivity and collaboration will be compromised, and they’ll eventually get trampled by the competition.
Innovation is the fuel that drives successful companies. 56% of worldwide customers make a conscious decision to purchase from innovative businesses. Supercharge innovation with API integration, expand your reach and discover new markets that you may otherwise miss.