When did you last have trouble finding a document at work? What about a specific piece of data? As humans and machines generate more data every day, businesses are sitting on mountains of gold. Unfortunately, much of this data is siloed, exponentially reducing its value.
Companies want to provide real-time services like monitoring, reporting, and comparison to historical data. If there is limited or no communication between tools, this connectivity is impossible.
This is where APIs come in.
What is an API? What is API integration?
API stands for Application Programming Interface. APIs are connectors, translators, and enablers of high-speed connectivity and communication. They’re small packages of code that allow your internal applications (in effect, your data) to connect to external applications from other businesses or services. Don’t worry, they’re secure! APIs allow you to pass information between programs that otherwise wouldn’t be able to interact, opening a myriad of possibilities for what you can provide both employees and customers.
API integration is a connection between two system APIs. Before two systems talk to each other, programmers have to develop two APIs to communicate.
Types of APIs
APIs can be developed in a variety of ways. In-house or third-party developers and engineering teams may be involved.
• Internal You can have internal APIs, which are private and managed by in-house developers using company resources like internal databases.
• External You can also connect to public, external APIs, which provide you actionable information from another business.
Benefits of API integration
The key benefit of API integration is improved connectivity between data and systems. With access to more information, your company can do more. When you call an Uber or Lyft and allow these apps to access your real-time GPS location, this is an API at work. Two-way communication between Uber and your phone enables updating in real-time, providing the user a comfortable and efficient experience.
Primary benefits include:
• Efficiency. APIs can simplify business processes.
• Performance. APIs make systems more performant.
• Connectivity. Companies can use APIs to access data they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Precautions for API integration
Decision-makers should stay aware that applications change rapidly and their APIs may change as well. Companies are given lead time to upgrade to new API versions. Usually, API versions will deprecate; sometimes, they’re removed completely. This all depends on who manages the API; they should give you lead time, but there’s no guarantee an API will remain active. That’s why it’s important to be aware and ensure your APIs are always up-to-date.
API integration examples
• Every time you request a ride from Uber, an API is accessed to retrieve all the available drivers. The Uber mobile app initiates a request to use their cloud/back-end API as the gateway to deliver the necessary information to you.
• For companies implementing new product features, APIs are essential for supporting new functionality.
• Amazon recently released the Amazon Chime API interface, which allows companies to integrate their processes and tools with the Amazon Chime chat functionality.
• Telecom companies can get ahead with proper use of APIs.
• APIs are used to access other critical pieces of data such as data lakes and data warehouses.
APIs are everywhere and can provide tremendous business value when used correctly.
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