“How APIs Are Obliterating Technology Challenges” written by Bruce Dragt, SVP of Product, YapStone.
We live in a world characterized by rapid communications and transactions. About 97% of Millennials own a mobile device and 51% of them spend more time shopping (buying) on mobile than on desktop. The instant gratification generation that we all have become is now used to getting what we want – instantly – and, whether you know it or not, you have APIs to thank for that.
We rely upon APIs to deliver the instant interaction and robust solutions we’ve come to expect. From startups to established firms, travel to retail, APIs are changing the face of business and consumer interactions for the better and obliterating technology challenges.
What is an API, you may ask? If I were to say to you “Application Programming Interface,” depending on your level of technical knowledge, that may or may not mean much to you. But you can think about it this way. Every time you try to exchange data from an application remotely, you are likely to call an API. The API creates a structured way to exchange the data between two applications without impacting the language of either.
Sprout Social uses a good analogy: “To help visualize this concept, imagine an API as the middleman between a programmer and an application. This middleman accepts requests and, if that request is allowed, returns the data. The middleman also informs programmers about everything they can request, exactly how to ask for it and how to receive it.” Pretty neat, right? And the better that APIs get at giving and receiving orders, the more seamlessly programs, software and applications work together.
APIs are not a new invention. We use them daily to book flights, order products and make secure payments online. Yet, compatibility issues have historically made it difficult for businesses to integrate their software. Additionally, companies have historically only exposed part of their technology through externally-facing API’s and never provided access to the rest, restricting it to a single “in-door” that only allowed the most basic in/out.
Fortunately, APIs are becoming increasingly more open and creating new solutions around once daunting technological challenges. Here’s how:
Removing integration problems
APIs make doing business easier and more effective, thanks to companies making more discreet services available through their APIs and the shift to developer-friendly (outward facing vs internal facing) APIs. They are removing the age-old integration barrier that caused migraines in even the most skillful of developers. Businesses large and small in all industries can now strike up multiple partnerships without integration problems. They are no longer held hostage to one or two providers offering a broad umbrella of mediocre services.
Companies can now choose the best aspects of each provider, as services are decomposed into microservices. They can forge alliances with the strongest partners and easily outsource areas that detract from their core service. This enables CEOs, CTOs and CMOs to focus on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses across the board. Seamlessly and cost-effectively, without facing the dreaded integration issues of the pre-API era.
Enabling a best-of-breed approach to services
APIs have allowed for once pre-packaged and generic service offerings to be split down and customized. This is great news for companies and consumers alike. Businesses can offer the best solutions to their customers, as they are no longer beholden to one company for service integration.
Today, it is not uncommon for many providers to be involved in the delivery of one final service package. Each one selected because of their strengths in a given area. This allows companies to adopt a best-of-breed approach, delivering greater satisfaction and a more personalized customer experience.
Turning competitors into partners
This new wave of APIs has also made for a blurring of the boundaries between partner and competitor. In fact, APIs are leveling the playing field for all, allowing household names and emerging companies to join forces, instead of going head-to-head. APIs improve the experience for all stakeholders, reducing costs, competition and breeding innovation. Businesses can focus on their key strengths down to an API, and the customer is better served with the finest solution from a multitude of providers, working seamlessly together under the hood.
Improving the customer experience
Not only do APIs remove the “build or buy” quandary of the past and make businesses more efficient, but they also allow companies to improve the customer experience. Customers receive increasingly sophisticated solutions as businesses reduce costs and obliterate technology challenges. The year 2016 has seen a turning point in the improvement of customized, client-based services. Nowhere is this more strongly showcased than in the FinTech industry that powers online payments across diverse verticals.
Making customized solutions possible
Emerging Fintech startups can accelerate their entry to market by offering superior microservices that complement and improve those of traditional powerhouses, which makes it infinitely easier to offer customized solutions to clients. In the case of YapStone, we believe that APIs and FinTech were made for each other.
To put it simply, choosing an API is to the Fintech world as choosing an app is to the consumer world. In both cases, the solution has to fit the individual (industry, business and/or company).
Our success has been built on providing industry-specific payment solutions to large markets by partnering and integrating with leading software providers – through, you guessed it, robust APIs. This approach allows us to enhance our own product offering with seamless integrations and deliver best-in-class payment solutions for each market we serve, ultimately for thousands of individual companies. APIs have removed the one-size-fits-all, boxed packages of the past, allowing Yapstone to tailor payment solutions for the industries and customers we serve.
Wrapping it up
For those entities who don’t want to choose and integrate across a number of partners, certain technology companies provide a general API solution to suit most industries. However, for most enterprises, it is crucial that their APIs allow for services to be decomposed and split down into microservices. This gives the business an opportunity to harness the abilities of many providers and cherry pick the very best elements. This way, they can deliver customized services to clients with multiple partners involved.
APIs will allow businesses to leverage technology with even greater velocity in the future, thereby, avoiding stumbling blocks of the past and allowing them to seize opportunities for growth.