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Ways to Use APIs for Your Business

Today almost every business is a digital business. Companies that successfully navigate in this digital world need to be ready to change both technology and thinking all the time to adapt to the ever-changing reality. 

And in today’s world, it is important to understand that APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are the fuel that powers the applications and processes of digital business platforms. 

This understanding can lead to a victory in today’s digital world, rewarding those who implement it with faster time-to-market, improved agility, and the ability to use new channels and expand their brand like never before.

APIs for Your Business
Photo by Bruce Mars

According to the report “API Integration Status 2018“, over 60 percent of respondents agree that “API integration is critical to their business strategy.” This view was reflected in the Deloitte 2018 Tech Trends Report, which views the APIs as a strategic mandate and a growing technology trend on par with block-chain technology.

To contextualize the growth of the API, you have possibly interacted with dozens daily. As a consumer, you can use Yelp to find your nearest restaurant, pay for Lyft travel, and compare flights from multiple airlines on the same site through an API.

From a business point of view, APIs can automate the addition of new links and updates for each link in your CRM, create dashboards from multiple data sources, and coordinate social media campaigns across all channels in a specific place.

What are APIs, and what makes them essential, regardless of the industry in which they operate?

What Is An Application Program Interface (API)?

API (Application Programming Interface) is a unique interface through which one software application communicates with another. In other words, it is a set of contracts that allow different software systems to exchange information. 

Thanks to API, programs, and devices can communicate safely without knowing each other’s internal features. Also, API makes life easier for developers, working as ready-made bricks to create software.

Try to imagine an API as a letter carrier who works between the post office and his home. But instead of delivering mail, the mailman brings requests to a third-party server and returns with a package full of data. 

Even though it is invisible to users, an API connects applications, devices, and systems seamlessly. Everyone on the network uses them all the time without even knowing it.

The API allows access to a limited piece of software so that developers can use it. By providing access to an API for a particular application, the API developer helps others extend their application’s functionality or provide previously unavailable information.

Why Are APIs Important?

APIs are useful in three main ways. First, APIs help developers easily add new features to their applications. Instead of building something from scratch, a developer can access a useful API to save development time and ensure that key functionality works effectively.

Secondly, creating an API helps the company behind it to expand naturally. By giving external developers limited access to internal tools under strict conditions, API creators can extend their software and brand’s reach, providing them with the value to share their work.

Finally, APIs can also help unite the Internet and mobile applications’ economics on users’ behalf. They underlie basic patterns of behavior on the Internet, such as sharing buttons or social networking options. Even the use of cartographic data in e-commerce applications requires an API. Therefore, APIs have become indispensable for users.

By using APIs, developers help reduce Internet fragmentation and improve navigation across the interconnected ecosystem of sites, platforms, and mobile applications.

What Are The Business Benefits Of APIs?

We have seen that APIs are useful to help applications and servers communicate with each other, extending the product’s functionality and increasing data mobility. However, how does it affect the growth of a business?

You Can Create Richer User Experiences Using External Data

APIs offer immediate and secure access to external data and functions that you do not have to develop from scratch or maintain. For example, being able to accept online payments is critical for e-commerce websites. Rather than building an online payment system, they can integrate with APIs such as Stripe or Square.

Similarly, having a robust asset library is essential for marketing technology platforms. It provides high-performance assets for users in various industries and inspires them to start working on their project immediately. However, creating a sufficiently large library, which is constantly updated with fresh content, is not viable for most marketers.

To meet user needs for multimedia assets, leading Martech platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Wix have turned to the Shutterstock API. They provide users with more than 225 million high-quality images, video clips, and music tracks, with more than a million fresh assets added per week.

Boost User Retention With Workflow Improvements

When data is mobile, you can consolidate it from multiple sources into one integrated solution. Integrated solutions should help increase user engagement and reduce user dropout rates.

If you manage a retail network, instead of placing store addresses on a static web page, you may use the Google Maps Embed API. This API type provides an interactive map or panorama of the streets on your web page to catch customers when they are most interested in visiting a store.

For Martech platforms, instead of displacing users from your platform to search, license, download, and then return to download assets, you can use the Shutterstock API to create a frictionless workflow. It is an optimized creative workflow, which saves users time, and gives them more reasons to go back to using your platform.

Flexibility In Developing Application Functionalities

Besides providing a standardized way to interact with external data, APIs can also give you the freedom to outsource certain feature designs. 

Therefore, instead of developing new functionality from scratch, your developers can call the API the endpoint. It helps to preserve developer resources so that your team can send their developments with a strong cadence without sacrificing quality.

Instead of creating reverse image search capabilities from scratch, Shutterstock API partners may instead call for reverse image search endpoint. The industry-leading image back finding feature as a product feature provides a tangible improvement to the product without imposing your internal resources.

APIs are also designed to share problems between applications and servers. It means that applications or servers can be modified without affecting the functionality of another. The decoupling provides the freedom to explore new technologies for scaling and timely response to market demands.

Unlock New Monetization Opportunities

By offering external data in your interface through API integration, you can generate additional revenue for your business. 

With flexible business models that allow you to adapt to different partner needs, several creative platforms with Shutterstock API integration use free assets as an opportunity to generate additional revenue.

Onboarding Speed

To achieve the download speed, the API provider should do everything possible to reduce the overall integration cost. It includes providing developers with detailed documentation, a quick guide, a dozen case studies, and an interactive console.

In addition to everything that speeds up the integration, these are software development kits for popular programming languages. It is also beneficial to have extensions or integration with major e-commerce tools.

However, it is still not enough. They also have to take care of users who do not use Dev. It is a help center with self-help guides, a live chat room, a “Cases of use” section, and most importantly, an intuitive user interface should be what you check first.

Pricing Flexibility

When it comes to pricing flexibility, it is essential to confirm whether the pricing model is reasonable, i.e., whether it will allow you to scale without killing your budget.

Good platforms offer a range of products, allowing you to choose different product packages that are most useful for your work at the moment. 

For example, often, you do not want to pay for the highest level of support, as you do not need it, but it is good to know that it is accessible at any time.

Interdepartmental Connectivity

Although APIs are designed to support developers in creating functionality faster, they should not overlook other departments. 

A good example here is data visualization; by providing other departments with a web-based dashboard that includes reports, you can reduce IT interaction. 

Similarly, a simple administrative web console often removes the software maintenance burden from the developer’s shoulders.

Business Continuity

You should read the requirements that your CTO will be interested in. You do not need to go into details; a basic understanding will help you get your message across to the technical team.

Integration 

It would help if you kept the API synchronized with your systems. Today’s applications can communicate with each other using the REST protocol, just like the API platform you want to use. 

The API vendor must also provide data import/export tools and other built-in integration tools for the system you are already using. With them, you can increase savings on software development.

Webhooks 

Webhooks is another feature that helps you synchronize your data. It optimizes the API notifications when important events occur, such as when something stops working, or a new lead appears. It is also useful when you think about using integration markets like Zapier or IFTTT.

Role-based Access Control 

Large teams almost always need to display their workflow with system rights and workflows. The API platform should allow you to control read/edit rights for administrators.

Audit Logs 

In addition to the previous point, the security and compliance team should monitor and track access to the organization’s information. Therefore, you should ensure that any API vendor you want to work with supports this.

Reports 

Reports show the real value derived from using the application. Various stakeholders in your company expect different answers. Therefore, an API platform should offer flexible reporting mechanisms, including multiple types of data exports such as raw data, charts, or scheduled reports.

Self Hosting 

Some industries are still unable to upload their data to the cloud, so they may be interested in hosting all their software offerings on-site and in managed private installations.

SLA 

Depending on the business value of the functionality you get from the API, you should pay close attention to the manufacturer’s SLA policy. In the API case, you may want to keep track of two indicators: availability and time. 

For example, if you promise that the service will be available 99.9% of the time, and response time – how fast the API will respond to your requests. It is vital as this time usually directly affects the service experience. 

Support 

There are two elements to consider, not only for API platforms but for all SaaS in general. The first is the response time, based on the seriousness of the problem. 

The second is the means used to solve problems (email, phone, live chat, etc.). When the API is critical, you should ensure that your signed plan offers the correct response time and on-demand phone support.

5 Ways To Use API in Your Business

Now let’s look at how you are probably already using the API for business purposes.

Geolocation

Why do you want to start with IP geolocation API? It is no secret that today’s digital landscape is harsh with restless malicious entities and cyberattacks that continually strike at business, systems, and users. 

From hacking corporate networks and stealing and selling sensitive information on the black market to data leaks that affect online and people’s physical well-being, attacks continue to grow and threaten most online activities.

Cybersecurity experts of several types, including threat hunters, incident responders, penetration testers, and cybersecurity analysts, find geolocation convenient to prevent and combat these malicious activities.

So how can technology give an advantage? By performing a search at a specific IP address, geolocation data can provide experts with important indicators for checking suspicious objects on the Internet. The information disclosed about the person or organization behind the device includes the city, country, state, time zone, coordinates, and more.

Today, there are many applications for the geolocation of IP addresses in the field of cybersecurity. For example, geodata can be used to work with cybercriminals who have found a way to penetrate the company network. 

One way to do this is to cross-check the current geolocation data of suspicious remote users and visitors to detect violations in profile information. If a discrepancy is confirmed and an intruder is detected, restrictions can be imposed to stop further access to sensitive data or applications.

Website Analytics

If your company has a website, you should use some analytics to assess its performance. It helps measure website visitors and user conversion. And for correct work, you should integrate it into your website. And for this, you will use the API.

Take, for example, Google Analytics. It is part of the Google Cloud API Platform and offers several different APIs for analytics. The most popular are the Core Reporting API and Management API. With their help, you get reports on the website and manage your Google Analytics accounts. 

Even when you use online software provided by Google Analytics without writing code, you still indirectly deal with these two APIs.

Email And Phone Verification

Email verification is an important step in establishing communication with an individual or organization. If you have a list of wrong email addresses, you can spend a lot of time and effort trying to contact uninterested or non-existent accounts and clients. 

However, verifying consumer email addresses’ authenticity is quick and easy, and it ensures that your valuable relationship remains on the right track. 

As for phones, you can significantly reduce fraudulent registrations by confirming that real people create accounts. Special APIs provide full automation for end-to-end processing of the phone number verification process, allowing you to implement a phone presence check with a high degree of confidence during registration.

Project Management Tools

When working in a company with a large number of employees, team management tools become a necessity. Trello, Basecamp, Microsoft Teams – you may already be using one of them. 

The project management tools are great for communication between employees, but their functionality is significant. It means that you can easily attach a file from your computer or other application and share it with other users. You can also convert data from a project management tool to other programs such as MS Excel.

All this data exchange between different services takes place through an API. Every time you link some external reports to the project management tool, you use the API. They transfer information from one application to another so that your colleagues can see it immediately.

Search Engine

Another way to use the API is to get information from other services. If your business is about finding the best deals on the Internet, such as KAYAK or Expedia, you should use an API. Third-party servers receive the request through the API, respond to what the user is looking for, and then display the information on your site.

Or you may have a small search box that helps users find the right content on your site. Most likely, the internal search engine you use is an integrated user search API for your site. Usually, they are provided by Google, Bing, or other major search engines that allow you to integrate the API.

Online Payment Systems

If your business is related to money transfers and digital payments, you explicitly use the API. For e-commerce, APIs are valuable tools because they provide security for online payments. 

A quick and easy way to make money online is to use payment gateway APIs. PayPal, Stripe, Skrill, or Dwolla – any of these APIs can be integrated with your website.

Social Media

Many businesses today use social APIs, and perhaps yours too. Social APIs have become a potent marketing tool. They are most often used to distribute content through various social networks. 

If your site has the option to register, you can use instant login through social networks – Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn profiles. It not only simplifies the registration process but also helps collect valuable market data. 

When users log in through their social network accounts, you get demographic data about the user base. Profit!

To Sum Up

Using an API can be an efficient and cost-effective way to increase product stability, expand existing features, and create new features without depleting the developer’s resources.

Now you should know exactly what the API does for communication and connectivity. We use it to access data from a third-party server, allowing one software application to share information with others. And while end users may not even know that they are interacting with it, the API is beneficial for their daily online activities.

If you want to participate in the API economy and prepare yourself for digital transformation, there are a few principles to understand first. One of the most important is evaluating the basics of suitability and maturity of the API.