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API Integration enables modern enterprises to run in real-time

What is API Integration?

API integration is a powerful technique that enables modern enterprises to operate in real-time by leveraging just-in-time curated information delivered to their fingertips. In this post, we talk about what API integration is and why you should adopt it.

API integration defined

The term API integration is becoming more and more prevalent in modern times when one talks about software integration. Before delving into its meaning, let's first establish what an API is.

An API, in simple terms, is a way of making a system’s capabilities available for consumption by others. When applied to the internet age, this commonly translates into exposing key system functions in a ubiquitous manner to the outside world using standard web-friendly protocols such as SOAP, REST, gRPC, GraphQL and so on.

So, API integration then means the exchange of information between two or more applications through their respective API endpoints rather than using any other form of “backdoor integration” (think accessing the underlying database directly, dumping files for consumption and such).

Isn’t this the same as SOA?

Integration philosophers may well ask, “Isn’t this exactly what SOA was, a way of integrating applications using standard business services exposed by them?” And they would not be wrong. In fact, API integration is based on the many foundations of SOA with some key improvements.

Firstly, API integration attempts to target a varied range of clients including mobile applications, bots, third-party websites, external developers in addition to the usual base of internal applications. This means the APIs are built keeping a high degree of composability in mind so that they can be auto-tuned and reconfigured to meet the specific needs of the diverse client base. A widely followed API integration process, known as API-led connectivity, is advocated by MuleSoft and employs a three-layered API architecture targeted at different types of consumers to achieve maximum flexibility and reuse.

Secondly, APIs are looked at as strategic investments which help bring not only operational efficiency through reuse but also can lead to lateral streams of revenue through monetisation, external innovation by app developers and so on. This means that organisations are increasingly treating their APIs as products and constantly evolving and improving them so that these can become key market differentiators for them against the competition.

Has the cloud played any role?

The fast rise of cloud-based applications has been particularly instrumental in accelerating the adoption of API integration. This is because most of the modern cloud-based applications starting from modern social media platforms to aggregated travel booking services to traditional human resource management, financial management and such, are now consciously making their own services available in the form of APIs. This has enabled them to cater to mass scale and achieve far more flexibility in service delivery.

API integration benefits

Now that we have a glimpse into what API integration is, let us delve into some of the key business benefits that you might expect, if you decide to adopt this style.

Business scalability

You can scale your business out rapidly by offering your services to a wider consumer base without losing out on governance. Having a layered API integration strategy also means you can easily automate, reshape and recompose your business processes to constantly innovate, thereby allowing you to be nimble and scale your business in new directions to stay ahead of the competition.

Real-time decision making

API integration enables you to access key information instantly from your business systems, thereby giving you the ability to make real-time decisions and adjust course as needed.

In today’s world, getting the right information at the right time is crucial and a network of well-curated APIs, connected through API integration, enables you to seamlessly access any information anywhere by unlocking your information silos and serving you data on-demand.

Single view of your business

Compartmentalised and inconsistent views of a business have been a long-standing problem due to different information sets being locked away inside different departments, systems and geographies.

Having a layered API integration backbone helps in unifying all these scattered information sources and presents you with a unified view of your business so that you can engage better with your customers and stakeholders and form better long-standing partnerships.

Revenue opportunities

Focusing on API integration naturally leads to focusing on APIs as strategic assets and this, in turn, can open up parallel revenue opportunities, be it through pure API monetisation or through collaboration with external partners and aggregators.

Not only this, an API integration approach gives you the ability to quickly recompose your APIs with minimal cost overhead, thereby enabling you to respond and capitalise on new revenue opportunities.

Strategic business insights

Remember that your APIs are business-centric, hence the ability to analyse your APIs also directly gives you the ability to analyse how your business is performing and identify its weak and strong spots.
API usage metrics can give you key business insights into where you need to focus your sales and marketing activities more, which internal assets you can consolidate and decommission, which business service you want to channel your spend towards and much more.

Next steps

API integration is the modern mantra for connecting applications, devices and businesses together. If you’re interested in exploring how API integration can be applied within your business but aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Book a call now so we can discuss the possibilities.

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