Without realizing it, you use dozens (or hundreds) of APIs every day. Understanding an API and how you can leverage them to your advantage can take your business to new heights.
As the concept of Application Programming Interface (API) has evolved, this technology has made the transition from concept to practice, to buzzword, and finally, a ubiquitous feature of modern software.
Initially a web or internet concept, APIs are now fundamental to diverse business processes, improving the efficiency and decreasing the cost of day to day operations.
WHAT IS AN API?
An API is a gateway to functionality. It can perform a variety of activities between two or more connected systems. An API is just a way of making data accessible in the most flexible and powerful way.
The key is that APIs can provide access to anything you need in a reliable and convenient way, and you can link them together to make new processes. They’re like the Legos of the internet.
In terms of how Global Wizard uses APIs to service customers, APIs snap together the various processes from the manufacturing and inventory stage, through the sales confirmation and finally to the shipment of a product. With the right APIs, a user can accept a product order, verify that the customer is a legal recipient (denied persons screening), instruct the warehouse to prepare the shipment, and generate all of the necessary export documentation, all without lifting a finger or duplicating data entry efforts.
APIs are a way of structuring applications such that they can be used as they are needed in an easy and composable way.
WHY APIS MATTER TO YOU
Everyone’s business is unique. We talk about the “secret sauce” as if it’s a single lynchpin. Some arcane formula, stored in a vault, and surrounded by guards. It’s so much more than that.
At the intersection of your assets, tools, people, mission, philosophy, and culture, there is a unique business with unique needs.
Your specific business may have a world-class software development team or no in-house development at all. Perhaps it has an array of enterprise applications that almost meet your needs, or perhaps you’re just beginning to automate. If your small team is overwhelmed by current growth, you may want to automate your entire business and reclaim that human capital. If your large team’s expertise is an integral component of your business processes, you may want to automate only the tedious fringe tasks or just improve your business auditing.
In the past, your business had two options. You could purchase a large and expensive application and do things the way the application thinks best, or you take on the massive expense of building all your software from scratch.
With APIs, you can purchase à la carte functionality and create your bespoke solution at a fraction of the cost. Rather than building software from the ground up, you can select from an array of best in class software to meet your needs. Rather than adapting to the Microsoft, Google, IBM, or Salesforce way, you can ensure your processes and software are tailored to you. It’s easier than you may think.
As revolutionary as this benefit is, it’s not the only advantage of APIs. APIs are the backbone of the world wide web, and they bring global access to your services. APIs allow for greater scalability and reliability of services. APIs keep your business processes flexible and open for new partnerships, integrations, and updates.
Suppose you want to export a product outside of the United States but need to know if you can legally ship to this customer. There’s an API for that. Suppose you want to find out if WalMart has a product in stock. There’s an API for that. There’s even an API that provides rudeness as a service, but you’ll have to look that one up for yourself.
APIs can increase the efficiency, reliability, and scalability of your business processes while letting them be more uniquely yours than ever. If you’d like to learn more about how you can take advantage of APIs, please contact us. We’d love to work with you, and we love APIs.