An Introduction to APIs and Compelling Reasons Why Your Firm Should Be Using Them

Today’s digital landscape is rapidly changing, and the worlds of tech, the web, and e-commerce are more complex and diverse than ever. As our reliance on the internet and technology continues to increase – both from a personal and business perspective – there has never been a time in history when commerce has moved so quickly and found itself transforming from the ground up. 

Industry 4.0, the rise of the machines, and the importance of tech

Indeed, the increasing growth in the importance of tech in our everyday lives is leading to some industry analysts suggesting we may already be on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution – so-called Industry 4.0 – a time when machines and businesses co-exist in perfect harmony bringing untold benefits to firms and their clients. 

With systems like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) already revolutionizing the way businesses can operate and bringing increased streamlining, it’s never been more important for firms to improve their digital integration. And included in this mix is the need to use more application programming interfaces (APIs). 

What is an application programming interface?

To help understand how application programming interfaces could transform the fortunes of your firm, it might first be an idea to discuss how an API works. In very simplistic terms, an API is essentially a tool that allows otherwise disparate pieces of software to communicate with each other. In general, this will be to provide data or certain specific services between the apps – and is usually served by an API gateway – which may lead you to ask, what is an API gateway

As a very generalized overview, an API gateway is a management system that sits between the requesting software and a provider’s range of services or functions, interpreting the request(s), gathering the appropriate tools, then sending back a solution to the call. 

Using an API removes the burden from a programming team of starting from scratch and saves them from writing all the specific functions they need to perform a particular task. An API can dramatically cut the programming time in a job while also reducing the development workload. 

How using APIs could improve your firm’s operations and efficiency

APIs could bring multiple benefits to your company. However, as a brief overview, below are just a few ways they could improve your procedural operations and increase efficiency:

Improves and encourages innovation: By utilizing pre-built code in projects, developers (and your firm) can innovate quicker, which will help increase innovation. 

Better customization: No two customers are the same, but with APIs, greater customization is possible to serve their exact needs.

Reduces costs: Again, by using existing code, you could significantly reduce your overhead and production costs. 

Increased automation: As APIs already exist, you’ll be able to increase the level of automation in your firm – again, reducing overheads and taking better advantage of the digital revolution. 

Find new revenue models: By using APIs on your website, it may be possible to find additional revenue streams (for example, by introducing existing services from which you might earn a commission).

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