An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a form of technology that allows a software to speak to other web-based softwares. APIs are becoming increasingly integrated into all aspects of our digital lives. So how can your business benefit from developing an API?
This software-to-software communication occurs in any number of online interactions and takes place in the back-end, i.e. behind the scenes, rather than directly through the user.
For example, when you pay for something online, an API enables the company’s website to communicate with your bank in order to process the payment. Similarly, if you watch Netflix, your computer or tablet accesses Netflix’s API to stream your movie.
APIs make it easier to integrate one company’s services or products into another company’s services or offering. It also makes the experience simpler and more efficient for the consumer, as well as the provider. APIs therefore provide a huge competitive advantage, as their ease of integration means a company with an API is a more attractive partnership than a company without an API.
Amazon is a prime example of a company that’s used an API to propel itself ahead of its competitors. Amazon created a product advertising API which allows web developers to advertise Amazon products on their websites, therefore monetising their own website by profiting from a portion of the revenue they generate for Amazon. This is a win-win situation: Amazon benefits by becoming an API of choice, vastly multiplying its reach with minimal effort, and website developers (including the millions of bloggers worldwide) benefit by receiving free revenue to offset or even exceed the costs of running a website.
It’s fair to say that we live in an online society. A vast number of commercial, business and consumer interactions are now conducted online, particularly through applications or ‘apps’. Businesses who develop APIs therefore have a competitive advantage for a number of reasons:
While some businesses may be concerned that an API takes the interaction out of their hands, this can also be an advantage. The dexterity of APIs mean they can often process more business than a traditional website. Furthermore, the API creates the rules and standards that govern the interaction, which means that developers and engineers who want to integrate the API into their own offering need to build software around the specifications of the API.
Developing an API can propel your business forward, but you can also benefit from using other business’s APIs. For example, Graydon’s company data API allows users to search through over 220 million companies internationally and refine their search to source the exact information they need, all in one place. Businesses can search a company’s background, credit score, risk category, official company data, financial information, ownership and sizing data to gain insight into individual companies, segments and whole markets.
APIs are certainly the future, providing business intelligence and the opportunity to rapidly multiply business opportunities. So whether you want to enter the app market, develop your company’s API software or access business intelligence through big data APIs, the possibilities for your company are endless.