8 min read

What is API Integration? A Straight-Talking Guide

Jan 5, 2021 9:37:46 AM

The role of APIs in business is increasingly vital and yet little understood. Acting as a vital link between the front and backend of systems for decades, its importance is only going to increase further as we enter a new decade set to be driven by data. The nearest estimate we have is that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is produced - each day. 

To put it in perspective, the last two years alone has seen 90% of the data produced in the entire history of humankind. And this rate is climbing.  

APIs provide that critical service of processing all that data between front and backend systems, ensuring that businesses do not become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data being produced. By integrating the APIs for different processes, the data can be even more efficiently managed.  


What is an API? 

To begin with, the basics. API stands for Application Programming Interface. At DiCentral, we define API as the bridge connecting and integrating all of the data, applications, and devices used by a company’s employees, partners, and customers.   

While APIs may be invisible to most of us, they serve as an essential cog in the mechanism that allows companies to communicate efficiently with customers. This is illustrated by the fact 75% of individuals believe their company’s API has significantly enhanced the customer experience. 


The Role of API Management 

Like all finely tuned tools and machines, APIs need to be carefully managed to perform with maximum efficiency. The overwhelming amount of data being produced each day makes this task all the more critical. API management is how organizations create, publish, catalog, and analyze the APIs they use. 

In essence, it’s about managing the data that flows through the API. A clean set of data that’s relevant to the process the API is serving will ensure the process avoids becoming overburdened with too much information. In addition, in today’s digitized world, data security is paramount. 

An organization needs to ensure that its API management solutions can guarantee that the public and internal APIs it relies on are secure and usable, striking a balance between flexibility and security. 


How API Integration Works 

In simple terms, API integration can be defined as: 
“API integration refers to the way two (or more) applications are connected by an API. This integration allows the connected applications to talk to each other and share relevant information across channels and platforms.” 

The power that lies behind the simple ability of two or more applications to talk to each other is hard to overstate. What this means is that multiple programs can communicate, filter out the irrelevant data, and automate entire processes.  

The advantages of API integrations go beyond more efficient APIs, having a wider impact throughout any business. With the right tools and a well-thought-out integration strategy in place, companies will be able to: 

  • Ensure connectivity between all cloud-based programs, apps, and APIs within the business and with external stakeholders. 
  • Ease the process of sharing documents and data. 
  • Opportunity to create new APIs from integrations 
  • Remove the need to overhaul entire IT systems by using API to connect to legacy servers and extract relevant data from them 
  • Make API management more efficient and secure by keeping all APIs in a single, easily accessible platform 
  • Utilize cloud technology by keeping applications updated and providing cross-functionality. Programs and APIs can be updated with new features remotely 
  • Save time and money by automating the time-consuming activities often associated with database and application management. 
  • By streamlining the data and API management, processes can be easily automated, saving time with tasks usually associated with database and application management. 

In order to maximize the potential of API integrations, companies need to find the right solution and facilitate the process. 


How to Manage API Integrations 

How a business manages API integrations is pivotal in determining the success of the process. The key is to focus on the right integrations and APIs to ensure its place at the heart of a company’s digital ecosystem. A good starting point is to ask the following questions: 

  • What tasks or processes that can be automated? 
  • How can the functionality of existing APIs be improved? 
  • Is the API management process clunky or inefficient? 
  • What can be done to improve customer service? 
  • Are there any pain points that customers or employees have mentioned that require solutions? 

The answers to these questions can guide you to the right areas to focus on and identify the best possible solutions. By working with reputable providers such as Universal Adapter, the API Integration process can be the tool that transforms a business. As we enter the new decade, it’s clear companies are benefiting from the latest API technology, with 55% saying API integrations are critical to their business strategies. 


API - A Communication Tool for Machines 

In short, APIs act as a communication tool for programs and software, hidden from the view of users - whether they are employees, stakeholders, or customers. Yet they are integral for 21st century businesses looking to get ahead in digital technology. 

Integrating those APIs and managing the data that flows into them is critical. For example, an ecommerce store needs to ensure a customer’s order, shipping details, and payment information goes to the right places in its backend.  

Between the checkout and the backend systems, those details can go through multiple APIs before it ends up in the final destination. This brings home the value of integration and data management, where that information can be divided and placed in the right endpoints through automated processes. 

With automated API systems at the heart of the ecosystem, it can have a ripple effect on businesses. For customers, it can mean a smoother checkout experience and more accurate orders, which in turn leads to higher customer satisfaction. For employees, it can increase productivity with quicker task turnaround times and lower levels of human error.  

This leads to a leaner, more efficient business shortening the time to revenue and creating new opportunities. It’s no understatement to say that understanding how API integrations work can potentially transform companies. For the better. 

Peter Edlund

Written by Peter Edlund