What is an API?
An API, or application programming interface, allows two otherwise disparate systems or databases to communicate. In the same way that a user interface allows a person to interact with an application, an API enables interaction between two pieces of software. With application programming interfaces each of the connected systems can still operate independently. This improves efficiency without compromising the integrity of any involved information.
APIs are incredibly specialized and are usually tailored to a specific purpose. There are hundreds of APIs available to businesses with a wide range of applications. To find the best API for your business, you’ll need to identify the weak points of your business. Let’s take the example of a hypothetical eCommerce company that is growing faster than its warehouse can handle. This company could consider implementing a shipping services API that streamlines the shipping process.
Although APIs are powerful, it can be difficult to add more functionality to an API that has already been implemented. It takes specialized expertise to build and maintain APIs, which can take some time and be costly. Additionally, aging systems can be difficult to connect using modern APIs. However, the boost in efficiency and reduced labor that APIs enable are generally worth the investment.
Why is it Important to Integrate APIs into Your Platform?
⦁ Streamline Operations
The number one reason you should consider implementing an API into your platform is the efficiency it brings. Although every API has a different function, they’re all designed to make streamline business operations. They do this by making important data and information easy to access in one centralized location. For example, two databases are needed to complete a shipment: one with customer information, and one with inventory information. Normally, time would be wasted accessing both of these databases separately. Connecting these two databases with an API can streamline the process of finding shipping information and help the warehouse run more efficiently.
Another major benefit of implementing an API into your platform is the innovation it drives. Innovation can be a hard promise to deliver on, but there are already dozens of real-world examples of APIs doing just that. One such success story is the user interface of Twitter. In the early days of Twitter, the user interface was unintuitive and difficult to navigate. However, TweetDeck created an updated user interface that ran on top of Twitter using an API. The result was a much cleaner and user-friendly UI. This was a win for both Twitter and its users. Twitter became more popular as a social media platform, and users enjoyed an improved user interface.
⦁ Eliminate Tedious Labor
APIs can do more than just streamline business operations, they can completely eliminate certain ones altogether. This is because APIs are an important component of automation. Automation can reduce the amount of time and money spent performing tedious work. Many of the best applications for automation are ones that deal with a massive amount of data. Computers are adept at handling large volumes of information without making any errors. For example, sending out marketing emails could take a team of people hours. On the other hand, an API-driven automated system can finish the job in a few minutes. This means that the team can spend their time focusing on areas of the company that need human attention.
Useful APIs You Might Consider Integrating
⦁ WhatsApp Business API
WhatsApp is a Facebook-owned application that is an alternative to SMS text messages. The main selling point of the software is that it uses end-to-end encryption. This means that only you and the person you’re messaging are able to read the conversation. The WhatsApp Business API opens this functionality up to businesses. The most common application of this API is in customer service where sensitive data might be discussed. End-to-end encryption ensures that the call can only be heard by the customer and the customer service representative.
MailChimp provides businesses with a complete email marketing solution in one well-made API. MailChimp makes it easy to send out mass marketing messages to your subscribers and previous customers. Additionally, the API is capable of tracking and syncing campaign stats to give businesses an idea of how effective their marketing efforts are.
⦁ Adobe Sign
Adobe Sign allows developers to integrate electronic signature features into custom applications. Formerly EchoSign, this cloud-based service makes it easy to add a little personalization to your service.