Today, APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces), make it possible for software applications, digital devices and data servers to communicate with one another. It’s no wonder that 40% of large organizations use more than 250 APIs.
Web API development first began in the early 2000s with the goal of automating online commerce, and making services and products available to customers through a single website. Salesforce, eBay and Amazon led that charge.
Around 2004, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr sparked a new breed of API development in an effort to make the web more social and connected. Social-forward APIs continue to gain relevance today.
API development continued as we all began to move to the cloud. Then, the proliferation of mobile phones and smart devices resulted in the creation of mobile app APIs and the ability to connect everyday objects to the cloud.
These little pieces of code started as tools to simplify commerce, and now APIs are the backbone of many of today’s services and products. But why APIs? What makes API development a worthy investment?
Why we use APIs
APIs let your legacy technology communicate with your third-party SaaS apps, custom business apps and connected devices. APIs simplify and optimize interoperability so that our apps can move swiftly and synchronously. Whether you’re talking about a mobile app API or a web API, APIs allow developers to build quickly without having to code everything from scratch.
This is crucial because today’s companies use an average of 110 SaaS applications to run their business. This number has continually increased, making the need for seamless connectivity even more critical.
APIs have come a long way. In the beginning, building an API was about providing a basic infrastructure. An example of this is the Algolia API, which allows you to seamlessly add search features to your websites and apps. These infrastructural APIs are still quite popular.
However, a new layer of APIs has emerged. These are more like full-service APIs, which allow you to incorporate entire business arms and offerings into your core without having to create it yourself.
An example of these service-centric APIs would be banking APIs, which allow any application to add banking services to their core offering. Another example is chat APIs, which enable you to add chat to your app without having to build it.
In simple terms, building an API is all about creating a shortcut to streamline a process, increase efficiency and decrease time to market. APIs provide an enormous end-user benefit, while providing many clear advantages for developers and business managers alike.
The benefits of API development for developers and business managers
We hear a lot about how APIs impact the consumer’s life, but how about the life of the developer and business manager?
For developers, web APIs & mobile app APIs can:
This allows computers to do the work instead of people. By using APIs to automate processes, developers can work faster and update their workflow to increase productivity.
- Create personalization opportunities for new audiences
It’s easy to personalize services and content to new audiences and users using APIs. With an API, you can create an application layer to distribute information and personalized experiences to new users.
- Simplify software systems changes
Change is inevitable, but changing software can be especially overwhelming. Companies invest lots of resources and time into system changeovers, and APIs can make the transition simpler. From data migrations to system reviews, APIs simplify the arduous task of changing software systems.
- Allow easy embedding of content
APIs make it possible (and easy) to embed content from any application or site, guaranteeing a more integrated user experience and fluid information delivery. The most familiar example of this is YouTube’s API, which allows users to embed video content, upload videos, manage subscriptions and playlists and more.
For business managers, web APIs & mobile app APIs can:
By leveraging APIs, companies can focus on building innovative technology with fewer resources. In addition, they allow business managers to focus on the company’s core competencies and market differentiators, rather than having to build everything from scratch.
- Increase the speed of meeting user demands
Quick implementation is the key to meeting and exceeding user demands. To stay on top, you have to be able to adapt quickly. APIs allow you to rapidly give users what they need. For example, using Sendbird’s chat API, you can incorporate chat features into your application without having to develop your own in-house chat stack.
- Decrease operational costs
Complex app development costs $300,000+ in startup costs and at least nine months. APIs allow you to save costs by reducing development efforts. When the developers don’t have to start from scratch, you’re not just saving money; you’re saving time as well.
- Boost the potential for identifying new business models
APIs make it possible to do everything from extending your marketing reach to creating new revenue opportunities and product capabilities. For example, Google Analytics is a simple and popular web API that allows you to track website activity with relative ease, and the Google Analytics Reporting API enables you to integrate this data with business applications, build custom dashboards, and more, thereby allowing you to see web traffic data and use it to your advantage. But that’s just a simple example. With APIs, you can create new revenue possibilities with your API development, like Stripe has done with their payment API.
API development to simplify your life
From payment portal APIs to video chat APIs, API development makes it possible to move at lightning speed, give users what they want (and expect!), and keep pace with the competition.
APIs offer developers the freedom to focus on exciting projects while automating and offloading things that aren’t the company’s core offering. It’s a way to increase efficiency and adapt – without burning your team out.
For business managers, APIs present the opportunity to think big and meet your goals with greater ease. From lowering costs to expediting deliverables, APIs make it possible for your company to excel, incorporate technology, innovate, and compete without having to develop in-house tech for each advancement.
In short, API development is here to stay, and whether you’re a developer, product/business manager or consumer, APIs will continue to offer returns both now and in the future.