API aren’t just a catchy tech trend. They are valuable components of modern digital strategy that can boost the scalability, performance, and flexibility of software.There’s a lot of debate these days over the best types of API to use, but many times the business case for this technology gets glossed over. That’s unfortunate, since there’s a strong argument to be made for why every company needs (or will eventually need) to leverage API while undergoing digital transformation.
An application programming interface, or API, acts as an intermediary between software components. It allows for controlled access to internal data and operations by specifying what software accessing the target component does and doesn’t have permission to do.
What API Bring To The Table
API have more to offer than easy social media logins and mobile payment options. The technology’s applications are nearly endless, so when making a business case for API it’s more impactful to highlight the potential enterprise benefits first. A solid API strategy can:
Boost Customer Experience and Retention
Customers want a rich, uninterrupted digital experience. 83% of them agree that a seamless experience across devices and platforms is important to them. Customers expect to be able use their favorite software in the most convenient manner, meaning in tandem with complimentary tools. This is where API come in. By exposing select services to third-party use, API make the platform as a whole more functional and interactive. That translates into a richer customer experience. With their need for personalization and interactivity met, customers aren’t motivated to seek other services. After all, why should they go to the effort when they can handle all their product-specific needs in one place?A great example of this effect in action is the Goodreads - Amazon partnership. Goodreads uses Amazon’s API to provide highly detailed product data. The platform’s users can make purchases or add items directly to Amazon wish lists from Goodreads. The end result is happier, more loyal customers with favorable impressions of both platforms.There’s also a “fear of loss” effect in play that encourages customer retention. When an API is used in several different ways it becomes an integral part of the customer’s routine. Leaving the original platform disrupts their daily habits, which is a hassle most customers don’t want to handle. That provides a cushion of tolerance that companies can lean on while fixing issues that might otherwise send churn skyrocketing.
Enrich Interactions With Partners
There are structural barriers preventing perfect cooperation between a company and its business partners. Partners must request data when they need it, causing delays when unexpected requirements come up or misinformation is accidentally passed. An API takes out the middleman. Partners have controlled access to all the information and processes needed for smooth operations without being privy to more sensitive information. The risk of expensive misunderstandings is reduced since everyone is working from the same data. It’s possible to allow partners some access for updating information and being active in joint processes, too, so data is always current.
Power Mobile Strategy
The future of digital enterprise lies heavily in mobile. 80% of adults own a smartphone, and they spend nearly four hours a day on mobile devices. That time is valuable from a business standpoint, too: mobile devices have higher conversion rates than desktops. However, no company can develop their own extensions for every possible mobile device. There’s too much territory to cover. Even when companies choose hybrid apps to speed up smartphone coverage, the growing IoT trend means there are potential applications for smartwatches, fitness wearables, and more. It isn’t cost-effective to try and service them all. API allow software to be adapted for use in a wider variety of devices. Market demand can determine where connectivity is wanted without additional investment by the parent company. For example, a smart home platform might use a cleaning company’s API to allow customers to set up and oversee services while on vacation. The company doesn’t need to develop the software themselves; the smart home company does that in order to provide their own customers with better service.
Modernize Legacy Systems
Outdated legacy systems present a challenge to digital transformation efforts. Often formed as rigid monoliths, they’re complex, hard to scale, and don’t connect easily with new tools and processes.Internal API can be used to expose portions of a monolith architecture. They let existing functions interact with more modern tools or pull them out into more independent microservices. Using API in this way has two main benefits. It increases the system’s performance and scalability by reducing the strain on its overall structure. Plus, internal systems that weren’t previously connected can talk to each other using the API. This streamlines internal operations and breaks down data silos between departments.
Making the Call
The applications of API are so diverse and produce such marked results that it’s hard to find reasons not to develop them. In fact, as a company grows so does the social pressure to provide interconnectivity and data portability through public API. Those who don’t risk being passed by in favor of more tech-ready competitors.