How to Create APIs from Existing Data Sources

How to Create APIs from Existing Data Sources

The API economy is taking off, but how can businesses create all these APIs?

Between emails, CRM entries, incoming and outgoing bills, social media posts and everything else happening at any company at any time, the average business has a whole lot of data to deal with, handle and store. Some companies are now generating up to 20 terabytes a day.

So, what happens to all of this data? Although it’s collected and stored with the best intentions, often this data ends up locked away in databases or disparate systems. Not to mention all the data trapped in your legacy and on-premise systems that can be hard to connect to the more-modern SaaS and cloud apps your business is likely utilizing more and more.

How can you make this data actually work for you? By creating APIs to connect all of your data-generating sources—whether they are in the cloud, on-premise or SaaS—you can be sure you have the infrastructure in place to finally take advantage of all this data both now and at any point in the future.

Benefits of Using APIs to Expose Existing Resources

When you can use APIs to expose data from all these locations, there are a few of the benefits you can consider:

  • You can embark on an ambitious predictive analytics campaign. By looking at data from a wide variety of sources, you can begin to understand why certain events happened in the past and predict when future events—everything from sales spikes to employee attrition.
  • You can make your analysts more productive, as approximately 80 percent of their time is currently spent just on data discovery and prep.
  • You can make sure all of your data is actually being analyzed, and not just stored and forgotten. For instance, according to the Harvard Business Review, less than 1 percent of all unstructured data is ever analyzed.
  • You can get a better sense of what’s happening at every part of the business at any moment in time. As an example, analyzing data from multiple resources in real time allows call centers to develop more accurate time to resolution metrics.
  • You’re able to reply to audit requests more quickly. When auditors come knocking, they typically want a lot of data from a wide variety of sources. Having APIs in place makes it easy to gather all requested information with minimal effort and time needed.
  • You can increase the return on investment of your existing systems, assets and data sources.

This is all just the tip of the iceberg, too. Businesses have dozens of sources of data, and that number is growing by the day. With APIs in place, companies can be sure this data is not falling by the wayside and is actually being used to transform and grow the business.

What’s the Best Way for Enterprises to Create APIs

This all sounds great, you say. I see a lot of potential in creating APIs for my existing systems. But how do I get these APIs, and how do I get them set up so they’re usable?

You can either devote many hours building them from scratch, or you can pay a lot of money for them. And then you need to devote more time and effort to get them implemented. Multiply all that by each data-generating source—likely numbering in the hundreds—and the effort can seem very overwhelming.

Or you can use a single API integration platform that can create APIs from existing integrations in a few clicks and then publish them for internal or external use. And once you have these self-created APIs in place, improving operations, boosting revenue and sparking innovation will be easier than ever before.

7 Things You Need to Create APIs from Your Existing Data

Once you’re convinced of the need for APIs and their benefits, it’s time to dive into the details of getting them created. Before you get too far, here are seven things you definitely need to keep in mind:

1. Defined business use cases

Before getting to how the API will be created, you need to determine why it should be there in the first place. What is its purpose, and how will it improve upon the processes and technology already in place? Establishing the business purpose of the API beforehand will ensure it’s implemented well and will positively impact the company.

Looking for some example API business use cases? Download our free eBook to learn more.

2. Rules for how the API will function

Once a business use case has been properly defined, it’s time to create the basic rules outlining its use and accessibility. If defining the business use case is the why, then this is all about the who, when and where.

For example, is this an open API or just for internal users? Will this work with mobile devices and cloud servers, or just desktops and on-premises applications? What kind of data will be accessible, and when can data be queried? Establishing these rules at the beginning helps to ensure the final API is designed and functions well later on.

3. Access to all relevant servers and databases

This should be a fairly straightforward box to check in API creation, but there’s more to server access than what initially meets the eye. Especially when using a large cloud utility like AWS, establishing proper data access can sometimes be tricky. Previously established rules come into play here, especially in relation to access rights, alongside encryption and data format/usability.

4. API protocol and core technology consensus

Not all APIs are built the same, and protocol choice depends on use case. SOAP may be perfect if the API is to be more straightforward and simple, while a RESTful API or even a JavaScript-based API may be more appropriate in other instances.

Further, you’d also need to determine how the data is returned, whether through JSON, XML or another format, and how it’s encrypted. These protocol and technological decisions all hinge on use case and end user needs, among other variables.

5. Ability to easily create APIs

Now, it’s time to start creating. If you’re lucky, there may already be APIs out there that meet your exact need, or that are close enough that they can be easily tweaked to meet your requirements.

But what if you’re not so lucky? Previously, you would have had to code out an API from scratch. Assuming you have someone on staff capable of such an endeavor, getting one created in this manner is no easy feat. And the issue can be further compounded if you need multiple new APIs in place as well as the need to maintain and secure APIs over time.

However, thanks to the introduction of API integration platform technology, creating APIs from existing data can be a fairly simple process now.

6. Determine the required capabilities of a platform to achieve your business use case and goals.

While API integration platforms make creating APIs much easier, you’ll need the right platform, one that enables you to create APIs from existing integrations with no need to replace the applications or connections that already work.

Integration platforms understand enterprise data and have secure access to on-premise, SaaS and cloud apps. A modern integration platform that combines two sides of the same coin— integration and APIs—can help enterprises create APIs from existing connections, enabling them to unleash the power of existing systems, amplify SaaS and cloud applications and even infuse artificial intelligence into all business processes and decision-making.

By using a single API integration platform, enterprises can automatically create APIs based on existing integrations with back-end systems as well as publish those APIs internally or externally and manage integrations and APIs—all in one place.

7. Leverage API integration experts.

The last thing to keep in mind is to take advantage of API integration platform experts that can help every step of the way, from deploying the first integration to monetizing an API. If you need help with next steps or want to learn more, contact an API integration expert now.

 

What else can APIs do? Download the free eBook to learn more.

Unleash the Transformative Power of APIs and Integration

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