API (application programming interface) integrations are a popular subject in marketing, revenue and sales industries. However, there’s often a lot of technical jargon involved when we talk about them and getting to grips with what they are (as a non-tech savvy person) can be challenging.
Research has found that 83% of companies consider API integration a critical part of their business strategy and the pressing need for it is driven by digital transformation initiatives and cloud application adoption. Read on to find out about API integration and what benefits it could bring to your business.
What is API Integration?
API integration occurs when two or more applications are connected using their APIs to exchange data in some way. They power processes across organizations and sectors for many reasons, including syncing data, improving marketing operations, enhancing productivity and driving return on investment (ROI).
Modern businesses rely on a huge variety of applications including software as a service (SaaS) platforms, enterprise resource planning software (ERP), inventory management software - the list goes on. API integration enables these disparate applications to connect and share information, allowing for seamless business operations.
3 reasons why API integration is essential
API integration helps to ease business processes and benefit consumers through seamless data sharing and communication. Here are three key reasons why API integration is essential for modern businesses.
- Cloud-based products and apps mean that a connected system where data is shared automatically between software tools is essential
- It eliminates data silos in your organization
- API integration unlocks new levels of flexibility and productivity for organizations
How do API integrations work?
API integrations are essentially what’s going on behind the scenes of the interface the user interacts with to make it all come together. The API sits between the app in question and the server and responds to the user’s request.
They rely upon predefined protocols for interactions, which essentially mean that if a request is structured in a certain way the API will know what the user wants, and if not, they will be met with an error message.
The truth is that API integration is often right there in front of us without us knowing it. The majority of businesses today rely on these integrations to connect the various apps they depend on to function. However, the degree to which companies take advantage of API integration differs across the board.
Examples of API integration
One of the most common users of API integration is ecommerce sites. These websites rely on the transfer of data between order management systems, inventory and customer databases to facilitate business processes such as buying and shipping. These systems and the ongoing data exchange between the online store and the customer’s shopping cart are achieved through API integration.
Another common API integration is between a company’s CRM and ERP systems. This means that when a prospect converts to a client, you can create customers in your ERP system as soon as possible. Not only does this streamline operations by automating the task of data entry, but it also reduces the possibility of human error.
Another example is the payment gateway integration which is integrated with a business’ ecommerce store out of sight. This facilitates the data transfer to verify payment details once a purchase has been made.
How API integration is achieved
API integration can be carried out in a variety of ways.
- Custom integrations: Custom-built integrations use script written by a software developer who has deep knowledge of API documentation. Today, the cost associated with customer development means this isn’ not as popular as modern integration methods.
- Connector applications: Connector applications allow the transfer of data between popular software platforms. They make API solution deployment simple, easy to maintain and affordable.
- API integration platforms: These are SaaS applications that develop API integrations to join together with other SaaS platforms and services. They are flexible and users can build custom integration applications.
The key benefits of API integration
In the 2021 State of API Integration Report, respondents reported that the top business benefits they realized from leveraging APIs were speed in meeting business demands (44%), innovation (40%) and productivity (37%).
- Automation: API integration automates data handling and transfer between applications, saving time and reducing the possibility of human error.
- Scalability: It allows you to grow your business through connected systems and applications without the need to start over.
- Streamline operations: Get end-to-end visibility for improved communication and reporting and empower employees to be more productive.
- Fewer errors: API integration involves the transfer of large amounts of data and reduces the chance of errors or inadequacies.
- Innovation: APIs play a central role in digital transformation and innovative business models, enabling them to operate seamlessly and more affordably.
- Customer experience: API integration facilitates a better customer experience by reducing the number of steps involved in a task and making it easier for them to access the services they need.
Ready to streamline your business processes with API integration?
API integration is what allows you to bring all of the applications you depend on and the information they contain together for better data sharing and improved processes. With businesses today dependent on various cloud-based services, SaaS platforms and other software, API integration is essential for minimizing time-consuming tasks and creating a seamless experience for your employees and your customers.