What is API Integration?
An Application Programming Interface (API) is an interface that facilitates communication and connectivity between two or more software applications.
API Integration refers to this seamless connectivity that allows organizations to automate business processes, and enhance the sharing and embedding of data between various applications and systems. For instance, an app like Tripadvisor aggregates data from various airlines and hotels by calling their APIs. Another example could be the syncing of leads between marketing automation systems such as Marketo with your CRM such as Salesforce so that Sales can work on them.
Today, APIs are a necessity of modern enterprise IT. It is less a matter of if APIs are needed, but rather how many are necessary and how they will be created and published. There are now at least 23,500 APIs in existence, and this may end up being only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
To that end, companies now have many options at their disposal when it comes to creating and deciding how to integrate APIs. But among all the choices, only one reigns supreme for its sheer speed and scalability: the API integration platform.
Here are 10 reasons why an API integration platform is ideal for your organization:
1. You need to connect cloud apps.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of cloud apps exist today. This technology has firmly permeated the enterprise. According to the 2019 Annual SaaS Trends Report, companies with 100-250 employees use 99 apps across their organization while companies with over 1000 employees use over 203 apps.
When it comes to connecting cloud apps, API integrations are now the standard. Most legacy integration technology, like enterprise service buses (ESBs) were designed in the on-premise era, and struggle to support modern API-connectivity beyond the firewall. The gravity of apps has shifted to the cloud, and it no longer makes sense to house the platform that connects all these clouds behind your firewall. Simply put, an API Integration platform born in the cloud is necessary to connect today’s modern cloud APIs.
2. You need to connect your best-of-breed solutions.
Think about the typical finance department at your average enterprise. Consider all the tasks that fall on these teams. Everything from accounts payable, billing, taxes, insurance payouts and more is under their purview. While there are some tools out there that claim to do everything an average finance department would need, that solution is likely both expensive and not very good at all of these tasks.
Instead, many departments—including 96 percent of account and finance teams—are building their own solutions, assembling their own platforms, by pulling together best-of-breed solutions that handle specific tasks and data sets. With an API integration platform, departments are able to easily connect the best apps and tools available. This way, they can replace all-encompassing, yet inadequate options with a sleek and highly effective stack.
3. You need to quickly and easily create new APIs.
Until recently, if you needed an API, you had two main options. You either used what was already available (i.e., what a SaaS vendor or another third party already made) or you built one from scratch. Both scenarios could be problematic. Assuming an API is available from an outside source, it could be limited in its functionality or use. Building one from scratch via code is far from ideal either, as that is typically a time-consuming and difficult task.
By definition, API integrations done via an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) platform can offer an easier option. With just the click of a few buttons, you can create an API from an existing integration, saving you time and money while also finally fully leveraging your existing technology investments.
4. You need to unlock the value from existing and legacy data sources.
At many companies, especially older ones, data that is more than a year or even a few months old just ends up on a database somewhere. It’s “collecting dust,” remaining relatively dormant. Part of the reason older data often remains underutilized is because it can be difficult to access and subsequently integrated into current systems.
API integration tools or platforms can be hugely beneficial in this situation as well. With such a solution, an enterprise can create its own APIs just for internal uses. This enables a business to more easily extract data from older servers and databases as well as reuse business logic and workflows that are already working.
5. You need to compose new apps with ease.
Fun fact: When Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012, the photo-sharing social network had only 13 employees. Instagram is not necessarily an outlier here either. After all, WhatsApp had 55 staff members in 2014 when it was bought by Facebook. How were these companies able to create enormously successful apps with such small teams?
APIs. That’s how.
Many popular apps at their core consist of previously existing technology that is tied together in a unique fashion using APIs. Photo filters and social media technology existed before Instagram, but they were able to package them together in a different way using APIs.
New apps can be composed in the exact same way. Through the use of an API integration platform, teams can quickly and simply connect disparate technology or expose existing integrations as APIs or microservices to bring new apps to market.
6. You need to make your teams more strategic.
At organizations where API creation is a manual exercise, they then have to employ a team of developers and other IT staff to get everything up and running. Similarly, enterprise departments that lack concrete, integrated stacks often hire staff members specifically to handle one or two apps.
With an API integration platform in place, not only can that team of developers focus their efforts elsewhere on strategic projects (say, composing new revenue-generating apps, for instance), but often fewer people are needed to keep every department productive.
7. You need to improve team productivity across the board.
For developers, coders and other members of the IT department, automating connectivity between applications and data sources via API integrations serve as a huge boon to productivity. The hours every month that would previously be spent creating, managing, overseeing and fixing APIs can instead be devoted to other pursuits.
API integration platforms provide similar benefits to other enterprise departments too. Not only does this technology enable stacks to become a reality, but such platforms often allow even non-technical teams to create and manage their own APIs if desired.
8. API integration platform makes it easier than managing each API individually.
By using more manual API creation methods, even if the API itself was created by a third party, oversight and maintenance of that API still falls on developers or other IT staff members in the enterprise. As API use skyrockets, keeping tabs on all the APIs in place can be an exhausting and time-consuming effort.
API integration platforms, however, can significantly reduce this administrative burden. By serving as a single pane of glass for all deployed and created APIs, API integration tools simplify management, security and overview processes.
9. Because it’s better than doing it alone.
Whether self-created or third-party APIs are in use, businesses typically have no one to turn to for help. APIs made by outside parties might offer user guides and documentation, but good luck getting in touch with the likes of Google or Amazon for any specific queries.
API integration platform providers often have in-house experts that can be called upon if necessary. This level of support can go a long way toward ensuring that a business is getting the most out of all of its APIs and other IT investments.
10. API integration platform future-proofs enterprise integration.
Technology has progressed at a rapid clip over the past decade, and this growth shows no signs of slowing down. Machine learning, wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just some of the tech trends poised to dramatically change the enterprise IT landscape in the future.
With an API integration platform in place, organizations can be sure they have the capabilities to effectively integrate these new technologies as they grow and mature.
To get comprehensive insights into the API Integration landscape, download the State of API Integration report.
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This post was updated in Sep, 2020.