You’re ready to book your next vacation. You visit your favorite travel bargain website, input your travel parameters, and quickly get a list of the best available airfares. But how did the website get all that information? The answer: an API.
What is an API?
An API is an application programming interface. APIs are, in very simple terms, software liaisons that facilitate communication between disparate applications. Anyone using apps or websites uses APIs on a regular basis. In the travel example, behind-the-scenes APIs collect airfare information from various websites and then provide you with the data in a format you can easily understand and sort. APIs are powerful messengers that collect data from one place and supply it to another and APIs are everywhere. When the new clothing boutique on the other side of town gives you Google Map directions to help you find them, that’s an API. The share button on Twitter that you might use just a bit too often is an API. The weather snippet on your smart watch telling you that rain is on the way is an API. “Pay with PayPal” is an API. As the world becomes more and more interconnected, APIs become more and more prolific and vice versa; the growing presence of APIs increases connectivity across all dimensions of the internet.
APIs and Business
Understanding the many ways APIs add value to modern businesses will help you leverage this powerful technology to increase your productivity and boost your bottom line.
Value with Minimal Additional Resources
First and possibly most obviously, APIs provide value by allowing access to existing capabilities and information without the added costs of significant investments in time and resources. If you’re setting up e-commerce on your site, you can use payment APIs to collect from your customers, a much cheaper and easier option than creating your own payment processing application. You can also use existing APIs to help your customers track shipments, process returns, and provide feedback, all of which segues perfectly into another significant benefit of APIs: improving the customer experience.
Better Customer Experience
Using existing API’s gives your customers access to outstanding technology that works well and that they are already familiar with. They also allow you to provide greater value to your customer; you can aggregate shipping rates so you always offer the lowest prices, keep your customers informed so they don’t need to leave your site to find additional info, or deliver highly personalized, accurate services.
Improve Internal Processes
APIs add value by improving internal business processes. For example, background check APIs have compliance tools built-in to protect you from accidental yet costly violations.
The Bottom Line
To improve your bottom line, get to know APIs and the many ways they can help your business do business better.