They are powering digital innovation across all industries. By connecting separate systems and integrating diverse data pools, application programming interfaces (APIs) are the building blocks of digital transformation.
By allowing different systems and applications to communicate and share data, APIs are making it easier for companies to access and use the information they need to make better business decisions.
As a consequence, the growing influence of APIs has naturally had a big impact on data strategies over the last few years.
For businesses looking to improve their operational efficiency, APIs are being built to allow systems and apps to communicate and share data, streamline processes, automate repetitive tasks, and enable access to new information sources.
For example, an API can be used to automate the process of updating customer information across multiple systems, or to automatically place orders with suppliers. This can save time and reduce the risk of errors, allowing companies to focus on more strategic activities.
At the macro level, large businesses are now using 976 applications on average, according to a study by MuleSoft. That’s not the most critical statistic to come out of the study. The key takeaway is that among these almost 1,000 applications, only 28% are integrated – making enterprise integration the primary pathway to growth for many companies frustrated with a siloed digital landscape.
When businesses are working within disparate systems, communication is disconnected, insights go undetected, and potential remains unrealized. And if businesses are increasingly expanding their application ecosystem, bridging these systems through enterprise integration becomes a priority.
Key API benefits
Deeper data interoperability. One of the biggest advantages of APIs is that they allow for greater data interoperability. With APIs, different systems and applications can easily share data, which means that companies no longer have to rely on manual processes or data integration solutions to combine information from different sources.
This makes it easier to create a single source of truth and to have a more full, comprehensive view of the data. For example, an API can be used to integrate an inventory management system with a financial management system, providing real-time visibility into the cost and availability of inventory. This can improve decision-making and help to avoid stockouts or excess inventory.
Real-time data. APIs also enable real-time data access. By allowing different systems and applications to communicate in real-time, APIs enable companies to access data more quickly and make more informed decisions. This can be especially valuable in situations where time is of the essence, such as in financial trading or supply chain management.
New business opportunities. APIs can also be used to create new business opportunities by exposing internal data to external parties. For example, an ecommerce company could use an API to make its product catalog available to other websites, allowing them to easily create their own online stores. This can increase sales and open up new revenue streams.
Data flexibility. APIs also provide greater flexibility in terms of data access and usage. APIs allow businesses to control who can access their data and under what conditions. This can be particularly useful when working with third-party partners or suppliers who need access to specific data but not the entire dataset. By using APIs, companies can also expose specific data to external parties that can create value-added services or solutions on top of the company’s data.
Best API practices
When planning to use APIs for data access, ensure that the API design follows standard principles and best practices. This will ensure that the API can be easily integrated with other systems, is scalable, secure, and can be easily maintained. A good API design also includes clear documentation so that developers and external parties can easily understand how to use it as well as be able to integrate it with other systems.
In addition, it’s crucial to have a monitoring and logging mechanism in place to track and analyze the usage of the APIs and ensure they are performing as expected. This helps with troubleshooting and identifying any issues.
When implementing APIs for operational efficiency, make sure that you are using a modern API management platform, this will provide the necessary security, governance and monitoring capabilities for the API usage.
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