5 Reasons Businesses Should Reconsider API-Driven Strategies
Five years ago, businesses had to manage online transactions across 22 different technology systems. Today, that number has increased to 35. With a rapid growth rate of 59% in just five years, there’s no telling what’s around the corner or what business owners will have to do next.
Growing a business during the digital era used to be as simple as launching a website that looked great on mobile and desktop. Well, that world is long behind us. Today, to succeed, businesses must deliver great digital experiences by integrating complex technology across a variety of cloud-based systems.
Juggling 35 different technologies would be an impossible task. Imagine the team you’d have to hire to expertly manage every system. It’s just not plausible. That’s where application programming interfaces (APIs) come in.
What is an API?
An API is a piece of code that helps mobile and web applications speak to one another. Simply put, it helps send information from one place to another. It’s how businesses enable free live chats, callback request forms, Google maps integration, and more.
Essentially, the code defines the rules, data formats, and protocols required to interact with that software.
They work in a similar way to call center dialler systems. Instead of automatically dialing lists of numbers, though, APIs automatically transmit information from one place to another. Both are equally great at speeding up internal teams and boosting productivity.
Thanks to the creation of APIs, businesses have been able to adapt to the ever-growing pool of technology systems faster and more effectively. Systems can communicate and share information that delivers a better user experience.
In order to generate new business inquiries, your website is collecting data at one end (your website) and sending it somewhere else (your CRM). To make that possible, you need to build an API to gather and store this information. While you could build a custom API yourself, it is often far more effective to outsource the project to an API developer or invest in a pre-existing solution.
Essentially, they’re a digital postman. Yes, a lot of people use big words and jargon to scare you off, but the chances are you’re already using APIs in most areas of your business.
Using them is one thing, however; using them to your advantage is entirely another. Is it time you reconsidered an API-driven strategy for your business?
API-Driven Strategy for Business Growth
Developers love API-driven development, but as a business owner, you’re probably wondering how this popular strategy can support business growth. In an ever-changing world, where we are all guilty of becoming increasingly reliant on technology, there are five major benefits to adopting an API-driven strategy in your business.
1. A Faster and Cheaper Launch
In the past five years, we’ve seen a 59% increase in the number of technology solutions available.
Once upon a time, there were a few internet browsers operating on desktop computers and mobile phones. Now we can access the internet from our phones, smartwatches, TVs, and even our gaming consoles.
Let’s not forget the endless amount of project management software, team calendars, and collaboration tools that have grown in the last year, too.
If technology continues to accelerate at this rate, then over the next five years, you’ll have to redesign and redevelop your digital platforms more than 20 times. Whether these are small changes or completely new systems, this is time and money you don’t have to invest if you opt for an API-driven strategy.
An API-driven strategy makes this process quick, easy, and cost-effective. APIs simplify the development process, eliminating updates that would often involve complicated, time-consuming tasks.
Once the API has been designed and developed, it can be reused over and over again. You won’t need to rebuild a website to work across new cloud-based systems for business continuity. You’ve already built the code that communicates with that software. This means any business with this strategy in place will be quicker to launch on new platforms when they arise.
2. Mitigate Risks
As you’re aware, customers are quick to judge your business based on its website. Everyone should be aiming for a sleek, user-friendly experience. By mitigating risks with an API-driven strategy, your website is more likely to function well.
With an API-driven development approach, you build the APIs first. These are the codes that communicate information between different pieces of software. One of the reasons this mitigates risks is because it helps you plan and avoid any API gaps or places in your website that don’t work because they aren’t API accessible.
The second way API-driven development helps you mitigate risks is by decoupling the front and back ends of your website or application. That’s not as complicated as it sounds. It just means putting a bit of distance between the part of the site visitors see and use, and the nuts and bolts part that makes it work.
The two systems can communicate entirely via APIs and be built using different tools for more effective front-facing design and a powerful back-end tailored to your business goals.
In business, it’s as important to manage risks as it is to drive sales. An API-driven development strategy mitigates risks because it means the two systems have no dependencies on each other and your development team can use tools they have more experience with.
3. Enhanced Data Capture
APIs allow you to collect large amounts of data and integrate it into your content and marketing strategies. Using an API-driven strategy means all of your different platforms will be in constant communication, sharing data as it’s collected.
All of this extra information makes it easier and quicker to personalize your messaging. From product or service recommendations to exit-intent discount codes, APIs make it possible to connect with your audience and develop an effective unified communication strategy.
Personalized marketing is not only the most preferable digital strategy among consumers: it’s also the best way to connect with individuals and increase sales. Only 6% of people believe their APIs or API-related implementations don’t contribute to their business’s revenue at all.
So, if you’ve got to this point and you’re still wondering how an API-driven strategy can benefit your business, there’s your answer. The enhanced data collection this kind of strategy offers will contribute to your business’s revenue.
4. Breakout Technologies
The pandemic saw businesses taking advantage of more advanced screen sharing tools and communication platforms to make collaboration smooth and effective, and adapt to the challenges of remote working.
Those kinds of tools that have been developed recently are heavily reliant on APIs; much more so than the applications of the past. APIs are the data channels that allow loosely coupled integration between different systems, so it makes sense they’re built to manage this kind of agility.
An API-driven strategy helps you keep pace with future technology and applications, providing a level of future-proofing so you won’t have to upgrade frequently.
While your competitors are spending money so their current app stack and software can be used in combination with the latest tools, you’ll have more budget to expand your business thanks to the groundwork you laid from developing a strategy.
5. Customer-First Approach
Utilizing the headless structure (where you separate the customer-facing element of a site or app from the nuts and bolts) with an API-driven strategy gives your business more flexibility and supports sales enablement. It also gives you the freedom to build an application that works for you and your customer. You can tell it exactly what information you need and how you want your business logistics to be managed.
On the other end of application development, you can design and build a front-facing experience that users enjoy. Delivering a better user experience is a top priority for many businesses. The experience a user has on your website determines how they feel about your brand and whether or not they want to engage with you.
While you don’t need to implement an API-driven strategy to improve and enhance your application’s user experience, it certainly helps.
Firstly, your APIs are built to share and gather information from all your platforms. This enables your business to deliver a consistent experience across these channels, ensuring users recognize your brand online.
Secondly, by launching a headless site, you’re free to use the right tools and software to design a front-end for your application that delivers the user experience people expect.
If you choose not to utilize an API-driven strategy, you’ll have to find a system that meets as many of your requirements as possible. Often, this means missing certain components, either in the logistics or design. While these may seem minor, it’s important to get your applications running in a way that delivers, both for your users and your business.
What is an API-Driven Strategy?
Now you know why an API-driven strategy could benefit your business, it’s time to think about how to implement one. A good place to start is with what an API-driven strategy truly is.
There are two ways you can develop a website or application. An API-driven strategy involves designing and building the APIs before creating the rest of the application around them.
This API-driven development approach means that when you come to creating content, you know which components need to be developed with API accessibility.
If you weren’t using an API-driven strategy, you’d still include API design and integration in the process, but it wouldn’t be first on the list. The problem with this strategy is it’s easy to forget certain elements once you’ve already laid the groundwork. You increase your chances of leaving holes in your site due to a lack of API accessibility.
While the API-driven development approach is still relatively new, more developers and organizations are starting to take advantage of this strategy. Software delivery is becoming more reliant on cloud-based systems.
The Trend Toward API-Drive Strategies
In the last year, this growth has been accelerated by our reliance on technology for remote working. We use cloud-centric systems for our team meeting software and project management software. API-driven development will soon be necessary to give businesses the connectivity and flexibility to serve content across the full range of available tech.
The table below highlights the growth in web APIs since 2005. Now, there are over 22,000 active APIs, with an average of 2,019 being added annually. Clearly, from a development perspective, this is something every business should be taking note of.
The Headless Approach: What It Means
We’ve mentioned the headless approach to web design and development a few times. If you’re going to adopt an API-driven approach, you’ll need to understand the idea in a bit more detail.
The biggest difference between API-driven development and standard web design is the ability to completely separate the front-end from the back-end of a system. This is what developers refer to as a ‘headless’ or ‘split-stack’ development.
By decoupling the two systems, data can be retrieved and rendered from a powerful back-end. Your site can handle complex transactions, processing large volumes of data and keeping everything operational. The front-end or user-facing platform can be built using a technology that delivers a better user experience and CRM.
The headless approach allows developers to tailor the front and back end of their websites or apps for their end users. For the front end, that’s your customers. For the back end, it’s your company and your team. Instead of being dependent on one another, they communicate via APIs and can be built using completely different tools.
API-driven strategy has been a topic of discussion among developers for several years. In 2018, a survey was conducted of 1,513 web developers. Over 1,000 participants stated API-driven development was the most exciting new approach.
Are You Ready to Reconsider API-Driven Strategies?
An API-driven strategy involves building your APIs, or software communication systems, before the rest of your applications. This has several benefits, such as:
- Faster time to develop new applications
- Better user experience across multiple devices
- Enhanced data capture
- Mitigating expensive risks
These are things any business can take advantage of. Whether you ship products to your B2C audience internationally or manage a complex teleconferencing suite, an API-driven development strategy will give you an advantage.
So, why aren’t you implementing it? The honest answer is that most people aren’t yet sure of its benefits. Yes, of course, some giant organizations are spearheading the way with API-driven development… but not enough to warrant business leaders like yourself taking notice.
We hope you now understand why your company needs to implement this popular and growing technique. If it’s not for your customers’ sakes, do it to ensure the future of your business.
There will come a time when API-driven design will be essential to adopting the latest technology trends. If you act now and prepare with smart planning, you’ll be ahead of the pack.