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Nowadays, there is barely a business that isn’t a digital business. Companies communicate with their customers through official websites and blogs, social media and email newsletters. They build mobile applications to push regular updates to users’ devices and work tirelessly to create the most optimized – and personalized – app experience possible.
That certainly makes for a hectic day-to-day.
The fact is that in order to stay competitive, businesses need to be able to navigate the world of technology. They need to be where their customers, suppliers and partners want them to be. They need to be quick to respond to change, and be flexible and nimble. At the end of the day, it’s not survival of the fittest anymore; it’s survival of the ones who adapt the fastest.
Companies know that – or if they don’t, they are certainly learning as they go along. Many of them also know that going forward, they need to collaborate with others. Businesses are increasingly opening up and sharing pieces of their technology – like the code behind software programs – to enable parties both in- and outside of their organization to build new services and applications more quickly and efficiently. In the end, every new service wants and maybe needs to become a platform, long gone are the days where a new app could survive on its own without adding at least a few basic features to connect the user with other services.
The result? A world that is more connected than ever, and where previously siloed systems can communicate and exchange information.
A lot has been said about APIs in the not-so-distant past and likely a lot more is yet to be said. But first things first: What in the world are APIs exactly?
API is short for Application Programming Interface. Essentially, it makes it possible for one software program to communicate with another, sharing data behind the scenes. Sound easy? Yes, because it is.
Without question, this comes with a number of advantages:
APIs make the difference between integrating a Facebook ‘Like’ button on your company’s website and instructing users to go to your Facebook page to like it. Or adding a LinkedIn ‘Share’ button instead of having users copy a link, log into LinkedIn and only then share it. The latter scenarios are certainly more time-consuming and tedious.
It’s important to remember that APIs are all about sharing. They are there to help businesses as well as independent developers and upstarts to add value to already existing software technologies.
What’s more, APIs save companies time, money and human resources. Instead of building apps from scratch, they can use APIs from different providers to create and implement new features – anything from maps and calendars, to authentication and payment processing.
Nowadays, many brands use them to share pricing data and product availability more easily between partners and vendors, and across various platforms. Loyalty apps, for example, have replaced paper stamps and have helped many retailers increase their revenues.
In marketing, too, APIs play a key role. In fact, many of the channels marketers interact with on a daily basis – think Facebook, Twitter, AdWords and the like – are powered by APIs.
Your activity as a business on those platforms leads you to generate large amounts of data by simply interacting with customers, partners and vendors. This data, in turn, often ends up being scattered across various databases. In order to structure and make sense of it, marketing experts and agencies are increasingly making use of data integration tools.
At Adverity, bringing data under one roof is our number-one priority. We have developed one of the largest data connector libraries out there to help you link to any cloud service or database, and pull all the relevant data from the respective APIs. In the process, our tools are also able to clean and harmonize your data, making it ready for you to analyze.
So, APIs help you build and grow your business, and making sense of all your data is easier than ever before. They are a hidden technology that powers the app and digital economy, and using them for your business is a must.
The biggest challenge in this environment are databases and services that don’t come with a pre-build API, obviously. Those legacy data sources are a huge pain point for many businesses that have been built in the pre-digital-first era – too valuable to lose but too complicated to use. Making this data actionable and usable for your business and marketing analytics is a key differentiator for you and your competition, so you should find a way to harness this untapped power of your data.
And what is your experience with APIs? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!