It’s easy to get weighed down and confused by all the jargon in IT and software development.
But in amongst the DSLs, the HTTPs, the LANs and the ISPs, there is one particular acronym that you don’t want to overlook.
API – or application programming interface – is a connection between computers or computer programmes and its superpower lies in its ability to allow two different applications to talk to each other.
APIs are essentially a bridge between disconnected processes and they can prove invaluable in transforming workflows and processes for businesses.
Take, for example, an HR department whose onboarding system operates on a completely different application to its recruitment system. A process that was once very laborious and time-consuming, involving manually inputting new recruits' details to create onboarding cases populated with information, can be completely transformed with the use of an API that allows each application to seamlessly communicate and automate.
This is where the beauty of APIs really lies; delivering operational efficiencies that can reduce timescales, improve customer, staff and client experiences and save businesses money.
As well as this, APIs bring with them a myriad of other benefits including providing an additional level of security, being developer friendly, and being able to scale up with applications as businesses grow.
In the real world, APIs can have a huge impact on companies and the way they are able to do business.
We’ve worked with many of our clients to provide APIs that have transformed the way they work and delivered real success - the below examples have been picked out by our IT software development team and are just a snapshot of the ways in which APIs can have a lasting impact on companies and change the way they carry out their daily processes.
One of the most common things we do for our clients as their software development providers is to connect their websites to payment systems – we’ve been able to create many eCommerce stores for our clients that connect to a variety of different payment providers including PayPal, BarclayCard and Global Payments, via APIs. In addition, we have been able to use APIs to synchronise eCommerce websites with different accounting and inventory systems which have transformed the speed and ease with which daily workflows and processes can be carried out. Without the use of APIs, it would be near impossible for our clients’ websites to interface with other systems such as payment providers, accountancy software and internet-based data providers.
APIs can also prove invaluable in being able to communicate information from one application to another instantly - we have used APIs in order to be able to provide information about where in the world each customer is so pages can be configured to improve the user experience. For example, we have used APIs to default to the correct local currency for users purchasing from eCommerce websites. These small details can prove incredibly beneficial to users and businesses alike and can be the difference between an ok customer experience and a great one.
APIs aren’t just useful for payment services. We were able to transform the way a client of ours was able to manage their emails by replacing Outlook with an application that connects to users’ mailbox using the Microsoft Exchange Web Services API. One of the main benefits of using a bespoke correspondence like this is that our clients could have much more control over how their emails were prioritised and replied to. It also allowed for reporting on things such as response time. Essentially, the use of an API in this way handed control back over to our client and they were able to use the improved communication and better insight to improve their business processes from the inside out.
If you’d like to find out a little more about APIs, or perhaps are looking for a solution to an obstacle you’re currently experiencing in your business, feel free to get in touch.
Some from our software development team would be very happy to have a chat with you and discuss some ideas about how APIs might benefit your business too.