For a growing number of businesses, apps have become the most important way they connect with their customers. Just look at your device and this readily becomes apparent as the odds are that you have apps from several brands that you connect with on an almost daily basis.
However, there is another level of connection which most consumers don’t often think about – Application Programming Interface or API for short. These tools allow businesses to put data about what they do to use, either through interfacing with 3rd party application developers or linking with existing products and systems.
The API economy has become so important that for many businesses it is helping them to deliver value in ways that weren’t even imaginable a few years ago. As such, here are some ideas on how you can put the power of APIs to work for your business. In an increasingly digital world, these tools are transforming businesses in every industry and smart leaders understand that they need to put them to work for them or risk losing market share.
Connect with Your Customers
While there are a plethora of tools to connect with your customers today, APIs are often overlooked. This is a shame as an effective API helps to create a platform by which you can not only share data on your business but also find and retain new customers.
An example of this is how Octopart has built an API-driven search engine for electronic parts. While this might seem like a mundane application, the ability to integrate this database which other programs are a powerful tool for designers and engineers.
Not only helping them to source the right part but also reducing the time and cost it takes to design and build the gadgets we use in our everyday lives.
You might be thinking how can this be? By making what was previously isolated databases of electronic parts indexable via an API, the company has helped to uncover uses for the data which were previously unknown. This includes giving manufacturers and distributors greater insight into which parts are most commonly searched for and ordered – allowing the opportunity for better inventory control.
More Accurate Data
The transparency also helps companies from all industries to have access to more accurate data about customer behavior. Let’s face it, there is no shortage of data these days, but much of it is flawed due to how it was collected.
As such, having a way to interface directly with customers creates a tremendous opportunity to collect data straight from the source, without the need to rely on stopgap measures to transform the raw data into something actionable.
When anonymized, this data can not only prove valuable to companies, but it can also create a new way to interface with suppliers and partners as the insights can identify new uses for the company’s product or service.
Granted, to take advantage of the benefits of an API, you will first need to build one. But the process can help you to better understand how your internal systems work and this can lead to a reduction in bottlenecks which might be driving costs throughout the organization.
This is especially true in companies with overlapping legacy systems – many of which rely on 3rd party applications just to talk to each other. While throwing your entire IT infrastructure out and starting over again is probably not an option, the ability to identify and overcome barriers in information flow can help to make your company more competitive.
In time, this can lead to the deployment of an integrated system, one which is focused on sharing the right data with the right people in real-time. As such, decisions can be based on the signal and not influenced by any “noise” in the data.
Unlock New Revenue Opportunities
As mentioned, the deployment of APIs can help to improve your data capture and analysis. But it can also lead to a new way to make money. This is not only because of the better understanding of customer behavior but because of the collaborative opportunity APIs create.
In this way, your business could work with partners who might not have previously seemed to be a natural fit. For example, Gartner recently reported that 75 percent of the 50 largest banks in the world are now using APIs to collect and share data with third parties. This information can be used to make payments seamless, which in turn drives sales.
What are you waiting for? As apps become a vital part of almost every business, APIs are a great way to expand your reach and grow your business.