The strategic value of APIs in business

10 November 2015 03:10 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Dinesh Saparamadu
The world of technology is interconnected. The industry no longer revolves around tech giants existing in their own discrete areas of expertise. 

It is, instead, a web in the truest sense of the word. Each strand is dependent on another strand to both perform its own function and to keep the system, as a whole, working. Thus, one aspect of technology or business is often dependent on another, or even several others.  This may sound counterintuitive. Why would a company willingly depend on another as part of its business model? But in practice, it makes good business sense. A firm focuses on its core competencies, doing these extremely well, and when it needs a feature that is not part of its core, instead of reinventing the wheel, it utilizes the expertise of another business that would complement or assist it in its own functions. 


One way of implementing strategy
In the software service industry, one way of implementing this strategy is through something called an API. In fact you would find it hard to even turn around without bumping into an API these days. API is short for Application Programming Interfaces and, basically, allows one application to communicate with another. APIs are not even new technologies. Whenever you transfer information from one program on your computer to another - copying and pasting for instance - APIs are responsible. When it comes to the web, APIs make it possible for services like Google Maps and Facebook to let other applications access and use parts of its services. So restaurant review and recommendation apps, for example, can display a cafe on a Google Map right inside its app. Or a gaming app can use the Facebook API to allow you to show off your high score on your Timeline. 

How APIs do this is by, in essence, opening a select part of a program’s internal functions for limited access. This makes it possible for applications to share data and interact with each other without requiring developers to share all of their software code. Sharing all of the code would be a security risk, and also extremely inefficient. Even in the case of open-source programs, no one wants to have to sift through thousands of lines of code just to access one function. APIs simplify it all by limiting outside program access to just what is necessary - which is mostly requests for data. APIs can be thought of as software windows that saves developers time, resources, and that makes everything a lot more efficient. 


More important now than ever before
APIs are more important now than ever before because they dictate how fast a company can create new apps that tie into existing big Web and communication services. These could be social networks like Pinterest or Facebook or utilities like Google Maps or Dropbox. 

A productivity app developer for instance, could use the Dropbox API for cloud storage of files instead of having to create their own service from scratch. Or a firm could leverage telecommunications networks to widen its reach and access new markets. APIs, therefore, improve efficiency, offer convenience, and make great business sense.

It used to be that integrating varied applications was a difficult, convoluted, process. But now a business can mix and match APIs to create entirely new services to reach out to their customers. Business integration is no longer just about applications either. An integration platform needs to support social media, mobile devices, cloud services, and telecommunications. As industry analyst firm Gartner noted, “The vast majority of digital business interactions will happen through APIs.”


Core behind this strategy
The Harvard Business Review argues that corporations should shift themselves from internal to external information exchanges and that the API is the core behind this strategy. According to programmableweb.com, there are over 14,000 APIs offered by firms today. Salesforce.com generates half of its revenues through APIs and eBay generates 60 percent. Salesforce.com has a marketplace for apps created by its partners that now numbers over 300. eBay’s APIs allow it to list its auctions on other websites, get bidder information on items sold and collect feedback on transactions - all of which give exposure to sellers of items and which help sites that use eBay’s APIs to run their business model. 

At hSenid Mobile, we understand a firm’s need for agility and rapid growth. Exploring new markets and opportunities generally requires inordinate amounts of time and investment. To greatly decrease the risk and investment associated with new business ventures, we provide end-to-end platforms that connect Telcos to businesses. 

Our solutions allow for a high level of flexibility with continuous revenue generation and better customer engagement. Our APIs will handle all the grunt work while your firm can focus on what it does best. You can conceptualize an app, develop it using our APIs and publish it all through one cohesive platform. You can monetize your network assets, tap into our abundant sources of innovation and provide discovery mechanisms to your target audience, with the assistance of our APIs and platforms. 

The trend of APIs is growing and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. APIs allow firms to expand into markets they may never have considered previously. Through the use of APIs, a firm can access multiple ecosystems and markets with only a fraction of the investment they would normally need. While APIs may seem like just a technical concept, one must not overlook their strategic significance. With products and services becoming increasingly digitized, the influence of APIs is growing far beyond technology firms. All CEOs may soon need to find ways to incorporate APIs into their growth strategies. For more details visit 
http://www.hsenidmobile.com/apistory
(The writer is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of hSenid Group of Companies. With over 25 years of experience in IT, and related technology industries, Dinesh is a serial entrepreneur having founded more than six companies over the last two decades. Dinesh sets the vision and strategy for new business ventures for hSenid and is responsible for coaching and developing the management team, and setting direction for the company’s international expansions)

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