Why Are APIs that Strategic to a Business?

8 min read

The rise API products highlights the business perspective of APIs. They are not a technical pipe anymore, but levers for growth. APIs can make a business gain time, money and efficiency. They can open new partnerships and improve user-experience. Understanding the strategic business value of APIs is the first step of an efficient API strategy.

Too often, APIs are restricted to a technical subject. Yet, behind the API acronym lies a key element - essential in any industry - to improve the connectivity between different pieces of software and their interoperability. Thanks to a thoughtful strategy in place - going beyond technical imperatives - companies can take advantage of APIs.

At Blobr, we reckon there are three key areas that explain why APIs are that valuable to a business. For each of those areas, we will illustrate how much value APIs can bring to a business.

Time & Cost Efficiency

Reinventing the wheel when something powerful and accessible already exists does not really make sense. This is why forward-thinking companies are reducing costs and time spent by building their solutions with best-of-breed components, which they access via APIs. Indeed, APIs are components that allow different platforms, applications and systems to share info and carry out different tasks. Because APIs can access app components, the delivery of services and information is made more flexible. It is shared and distributed externally in an easier way.

Example A
Intercom provides an API that gives a company everything it needs to build its messaging tools. It features a wide array of useful API endpoints, with numerous options for organizing contacts and leads. One can use Intercom to add messaging features to almost anything, from a mobile app to a website.

Example B
Any online retailer or wholesaler, by integrating an insurance partner API, can bring full insurance quotation, policy creation and management capabilities into their shopping cart. On the contrary, replicating the capabilities they get through an insurance API would be too costly and time-consuming. It is better to focus on its primitive.

Innovation & Partnership Boosting

1. New markets

APIs allow companies to supercharge innovation. Companies can now expand reach and tap into new markets that otherwise wouldn’t have been considered (either due to a lack of resources or due to a lack of awareness). They can quickly pivot to new verticals and adapt to changing customer expectations, market dynamics, and technology trends.

Back in 2015 when Smartcar was created, there was no easy way for web and mobile applications to integrate with vehicles. Although cars themselves were becoming highly connected, no car brand offered well-documented, developer-friendly APIs that would allow developers to easily build applications and vehicles that would integrate with those vehicles. Today, the company is able to cut the time for developers to make their first API request to a vehicle from 12 months to under 12 minutes… Quite innovative!

2. New partners

Using APIs the right way can help take advantage of competitors and turn them into partners. So many reasons can bring a company to partner with another one. The first step is to identify the purpose of a partnerships and the benefits that partnership could bring to the business. Some of the reasons could be: increase exposure, increase sales, drive communication, encourage adoption, protect users from bad behaviour etc...

While historically competitive to each other, there is now a way banks and fintechs can benefit from each other. It is strategic for Banks to expand their market, increase their customers base and grow their revenue opportunities. They can do so thanks to Fintech companies partnerships with adjacent value proposition and services. On the other side, Fintech companies can for instance benefit from payment and financial services capabilities thanks to banks' APIs. For instance, HSBC partnered with global supply chain finance company Tradeshift. HSBC uses Tradeshifts’s platform to automate supplier invoice payments, speeding up and adding transparency to lengthy payment cycles. In that context, using APIs helps to cover a broader scope of service.

Improvement of the end-user experience

1. Accurate Information and Personalization

The more data is gathered, the more personalized the experience can be for the end-user. With a powerful set of APIs, a company can run experiments on several devices, deploy deep-learning recommendations and confidently run out features that are targeted to each user.

Any online retailer would benefit from its APIs to improve its customers experience. A Product Manager could make sure, thanks to built-in Deep Learning algorithms that the experience is exceptional. This is what allows Algolia - using AI and ML - to predict customer behaviours and personalize experiences. Via their API, companies can access Personalized Recommendations, Related Products and Frequently Bought Together ML Models.

2. Productivity Enhancement

When services were not connected yet, lack of productivity was a big pain point. Applications and software were not talking to each other. Users constantly needed to jump from one application to the other to carry out the projects they were working on. Organisations are now aware of the different functionalities and help APIs can bring to their businesses.

Microsoft Outlook is one of the world’s most popular email. Yet, today's emails are much richer than they used to be. Thanks to APIs, users can now regularly exchange large documents, images... Indeed, Microsoft chose for instance to add Dropbox to support cloud storage. In the past, users needed to log into their Microsoft account, create their email, leave it as a draft, log into their Dropbox account, download their file or generate a shareable link, copy the link, get back into their microsoft account to paste the link into their draft email or upload the document. Lots of different steps to perform, right? As of now, users simply need to sign into their Dropbox account. Thereafter, they can automatically pick from an API-generated list of recent files to attach within their emails. So much faster, so much easier.

3. Performance and streamlined processes

Performant APIs are fast and allow users to enhance their own customer experience via rapidity and streamlined processes. Marketers are obsessed by the ‘bounce rate’ of their website/ application. That rate corresponds to the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the website after viewing only one page. The lower the bounce rate is, the better it is.

Example A
An online retailer that would like to offer add-on insurance would need to present insurance offers and quotes. An insurance API that has been built on that purpose would allow this in a streamlined way. The potential customer would not need to go out of the current page he/ she is visiting. The customer experience is that way optimised

Example B
Convelio has made fine art shipping easy. The company offers fully customizable options for end-to-end management of local and international shipments. In a few seconds, one can get quotes, with the option to book, pay and track shipment in real-time.

4. New Business Models

With the creation of APIs for external consumption, developers create new applications and services faster. They are also able to target core users more efficiently with improved integrations, and deploy quicker.

The British company London Theatre Direct (LTD) that sells London Theater tickets is using an API management tool which serves as a management platform for digital business. The company is able to sell tickets of all the different theaters in the capital. Theater lovers are delighted. They have more options to find and purchase their theatre tickets. There's more: even other companies, such as hotels and transport companies, can also be connected with LTD services. This offers a complete experience to theater lovers.

For now and the future

APIs have the full potential to transform the way businesses were thought of and developed. Forward-looking companies are reducing their costs and time spent by building their solutions with best-of-breed components - all accessible via APIs.

This is true for the next wave of business innovations using technology like AI, ML, IoT. They are all looking for a way to fuel their growth through APIs. More and more value from the technical stack is going through APIs and will be exchanged through them.

What's next?

Well, Blobr has the potential to make any business share and monetize their APIs in an easier way. Thanks to a no-code interface, business users - mainly Product Managers without very deep tech skills - are able to provide the best API experience to their end-users. Indeed, Blobr, in addition to providing a graphical interface on the Admin part, also grants its clients access to a developer-friendly portal. On this developer portal, all clients' end-users can connect to a personal space where they have everything they need to consume APIs the best way. That includes spot-on documentation, analytics about their consumption, invoices in case of monetised models, and so much more...

Want to see Blobr in action? Our experts would be more than happy to understand your use-cases to provide you the best advice on how to share and/or monetize your APIs the right way.

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