September 7, 2022
Posted by: DevDigital
The average enterprise today runs on dozens of pieces of software, or hundreds. Getting all of those pieces working together is both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to automate tasks that humans have to perform now. The opportunity comes, ultimately, in the possibility of making the business more efficient. Business owners can get developers to write custom software, or use application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect otherwise disconnected pieces of software. Doing so can be a technical challenge but the work pays off in several ways. The advantages of API integration make better sense when you understand what APIs are and how they work.
The 411 on APIs and API Integration
An application-programming interface (API) enables two applications to communicate and share information. You use them daily, even if they just run behind the scenes. If you create and distribute a mailing list, one or two APIs were probably involved in getting email addresses and compiling your list, creating the newsletter graphics, tracking who opened the newsletter and clicked one or more links, and so on. An API helps these disparate systems “talk” regardless of the languages each application uses. Using APIs to integrate various services can improve productivity in different ways.
The Five Major Advantages of Integrating Services Using APIs
Integrating your services, apps, and databases as much as possible offers at least these five advantages over the alternatives:
Mostly, integrating services that your company uses to serve its customers will pay off in terms of efficiency, which leads to cost savings and new profit opportunities. In heavily regulated industries, like healthcare and finance, smart API integration work will ease the burden of following the relevant rules.
Any business owner or manager wants to save time or money when they can. This is why API integration work is often a good use of company resources. It takes time and money, but you automate tasks. Consider data for a sales report. You have to pull some figures from one database and type them into another, perhaps after doing some adding or subtracting. It only takes 15 minutes or so each week. Dozens of people are doing the same thing each week, maybe spending 20 hours a week on this task. How much are those 20 hours of labor costing the company? What else could those employees do that would add value to the company?
Even if all they do is call one more prospect or check in with an existing customer, they could get someone to stay, or they could turn a few more prospects into customers. The higher the value of each new customer, the more sense it makes to have your sales and marketing people doing those things, versus manually adding to some marketing activities report.
How Integration Delivers Productivity Benefits
Consider this scenario: Your business has a mobile app that shares data with your website. You have two versions of the app, one paid and one free. You have a customer service app that’s custom-built but it connects to an off-the-shelf CRM tool like Salesforce. You have a payment processor for online orders, a custom database behind the website, and so on. That software supports numerous processes, more or less. If “less” then you may want to or need to automate something.
This is where API integrations show their value. Some of the work might be relatively easy with the wide range of API software available. Other integration work may require the help of expert software developers. In customer-facing applications, your business could benefit by creating faster, smoother performance that increases customer satisfaction and reduces the risk that someone will abandon your site.
How to Get on the API Train
Talk to an API integration specialist about potential automation or business process improvement in your specific technological environment. The obvious example of this is a business with one CRM tool and one for newsletter management. You have customer data, including emails in the CRM. You have a mass email tool in the newsletter management software. Once you have designed the newsletter and written the content, you export an up-to-date list of thousands of emails, clean the list, and import them into the newsletter software for mailing. Who wants to manually process unsubscribe requests? If you automate that process you save time and avoid mistakes.
Application Integration Can Be a Huge Driver of Business Improvement
Application programming interfaces are critical business tools that keep databases, mobile apps, cloud-based services, and desktop software communicating quickly and accurately. The best case we can make for using APIs as much as possible is this – they will make your company more profitable if used wisely. DevDigital has deep experience with custom software development and API integration work. Contact us today to see how we can help you improve your business operations. Don’t forget to ask about our case studies!