A look at 10 reasons you need an API integration platform to accelerate digital growth.
Recent data reveals more than 83% of enterprises use APIs to increase ROI on their digital assets. API integration platforms have emerged as a user-friendly, scalable way to connect business apps and systems and automate workflows, enhancing productivity and operational efficiency.
A modern API integration platform, or an integration platform as a service (iPaaS), enables organizations of all sizes and all industries to:
- Connect cloud-native apps
- Build custom solutions combining best-of-breed apps
- Create new APIs quickly
- Utilize existing and legacy data
- Compose new apps using multiple APIs
- Strategically allocate limited development resources
- Increase team productivity
- Manage one API integration platform, not multiple APIs
- Gain access to outside experts in API integration
- Futureproof your enterprise
But first…what is an API?
An API, short for Application Program Interface, serves as a software bridge that enables applications to communicate with one another and securely share data. APIs function as intermediaries, receiving requests, translating them, and delivering appropriate responses between applications.
What is API integration?
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, integrating APIs is 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. 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.
10 ways an API integration platform improves efficiency across your organization
API integration platforms accelerate digital growth and efficiency across your organization by:
1. Providing an easy, scalable way to connect cloud apps.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of cloud apps exist today. This technology has firmly permeated the enterprise. However, SaaS sprawl has now become a prevalent issue for enterprises across the globe, with recent data revealing the average SaaS portfolio now comprises 315 apps — and this number will only continue to grow.
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, like Jitterbit’s API Manager, is necessary to connect today’s modern cloud APIs.
2. Building custom solutions by integrating multiple applications.
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% of account and finance teams—are using API integration tools to build 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. Creating new APIs quickly and easily
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 present their own challenges. 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 not 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. Unlocking 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. Composing new apps with ease by integrating multiple APIs
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 API integration.
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. Freeing up development resources for more strategic priorities
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. Improving 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. Managing only an API integration platform, not 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. Harnessing the in-house expertise that comes with API integration platform providers
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 it can be difficult to get one-on-one support.
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. Futureproofing your enterprise with scalable API integrations
Technology has progressed at a rapid clip over the past decade, and this growth shows no signs of slowing down. Artificial Intelligence (AI) 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.
The insights collected from this survey are intended to help you anticipate business technology trends, compare strategies with your peers and better prepare your business for digital transformation.