API Services Are Everywhere
If you're an API enthusiast, like the team at Sunrise Integration, then you can appreciate the power, flexibility and sheer ubiquity of API services. You may not even realize it, but every app, social media platform and website is constantly communicating behind-the-scenes via an API. The web has basically become a system of pre-programmed robots automatically sending and receiving data using API connections.
According to an Akamai traffic review, these automated calls represent 83% of all web traffic. Google Map directions, calling an Uber and commenting on TikTok videos are all examples of data exchanges that leverage an application programming interface, otherwise known as an API. That's a lot of data flying around the web...so how do you tame this beast? Let's look at how businesses create, manage, and utilize this information, some for good, some for bad.
What Is an API?
An API is an Application Programming Interface allowing systems to interact with each other. One system will "call" another using a specific API endpoint. Think of an endpoint like the URL of a website. When you visit a URL, it returns the data for that website. This is exactly what an API does but in a structured manner that is programmatically parsed and consumed by another system. There are even recurring services that automatically utilize endpoints to synchronize data between applications, servers and databases without any user interaction. These autonomous calls make up most of the business traffic on the web today.
APIs are the building blocks that developers use to create applications. Features like payment processing, bank information and health records are accessed via secured API services. Today's robust digital experiences can easily communicate with 10 or more different API endpoints at any one moment. All of these connections provide small pieces of data or functionality that are part of a grander platform. It can however, become overwhelming to manage in an enterprise environment that has dozens of these calls. It takes an experienced development partner to navigate the digital requirements of a business that relies upon APIs to power IoT devices, phone apps, and more. So why would any business want to get into the complicated process of utilizing API services? Because APIs are the secret to unlock a wealth of data and services.
Grow Your Business with Enterprise API Connections
Mobile and digital technologies have changed the way we do business. Consumers expect their phones to do anything from anywhere. Smart businesses recognize this need and are engaging in a digital transformation by plugging into a global network of API data and cloud services. The Covid pandemic forced companies to expand their digital services to stay competitive in the new online economy. APIs enable companies to offer these services more quickly by embracing a digital strategy to unlock new revenue streams, and features. Options like delivery services, ecommerce transactions, geo-location services and more are available to any company that is open to an API-centric approach. This "open" mindset increases velocity and delivers better customer experiences. But how does a business start leveraging these magical API services? The first step is partnering with an experienced development team to make the right connections.
Building or integrating an API is a complicated process of firewalls, URL routes, networking, databases and more. One of the biggest concerns is security. We've all seen the news stories of data breaches and leaks. Lazy integration and poor implementation are often at the root of these breaches. It's difficult for companies to overcome the negative stigma that comes with this type of negative exposure. To combat this it's best to start with API security in mind to avoid becoming a target for hackers. If your business is looking to create or consume API data, ensure that your implementation is securely connecting and transmitting data. Ask your development team about authentication and authorization practices. Make sure you're asking about security right from the beginning.
Once the security question is answered, the next step is determining which API connections will service your company's needs. Here are some of the things you may be looking to do:
Offer billing and commerce services
Provide location-based services
Display news or weather data
Send orders/invoices to your warehouse
Resize and optimize images
Provide AI and/or machine learning to your data
Scan images and convert them into metadata
And so much more!
Those are only a few possibilities when it comes to API services. There is an amazing array of options and customizations available. Your development partner will help you make the connections and integrate the services. Every API will have its own structure and data that needs to conform to your application. You can expect some custom development around this step of the process. Consuming data from a third party is not always straight forward so the majority of work will happen to support this portion of the integration.
Need More API Help?
If all of this sounds a little too technical, don't worry, Sunrise Integration is here for your business. If you're looking for an experienced API partner to help with your development or integration, you're in the right place!