Whether you’ve been reading our blog or catching up on the latest news from TechCrunch, you’ve no doubt heard about a wide array of products that are seeking to ‘improve efficiency’ at every possible point. Sometimes this is done simply by reducing the number of steps or ‘friction’ in business processes, sometimes it comes from a new technology like The Internet of Things. However, one proven solution you might not have heard yet of is API integration.

In this piece, we will walk you through the basics of integrating an API into your business processes. Along with this, we will review the various benefits that an API offers and the best practices involved in making the integration process seamless. Our goal is to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to get started with API integration as soon as possible. Let’s get started.

API integration

What does API Integration entail?

First, let’s start with a description of what exactly an API is and what it does. API stands for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Basically, an API is the messenger that delivers your request to the provider that you’re requesting it from and then delivers the response back to you.

API integration is simply the process of running these requests and responses in the background, improving the user experience while reducing the amount of time and steps it takes to complete a given task. While most companies simply use other’s APIs to boost their performance, others are dedicated to API management and will let companies use their API, either for the sake of promotion or for a fee.

Unless you have the technical skills required to create your own API, you will likely be integrating with a third party’s system. API integration entails working with these companies to integrate their API into your solution, a relatively easy process. However, the benefits that come with it far exceed the effort it takes to get started, leaving many to wonder why they had never done so before.

Benefits of API Integration

In order to paint the full picture of API integration, the next area we will review is the various benefits that an API can offer. While not every API is created equally, the benefits of API integration span across all companies, regardless of industry or vertical. Without further ado, let’s see what an API can do for you.

Streamline internal operations

Like most custom-built business solutions, APIs can be implemented throughout your company to streamline internal operations. Everything from employee records to running an email marketing campaign, API integration can help improve the various processes needed to keep the work flowing. If you can reduce the amount of friction that takes place in these overlapping systems, you can provide an even better user experience.

You can begin this process by conducting an audit of your current offerings, processes, and systems that are maintaining the functionality of your business. Pinpoint areas that could be improved and then begin looking for APIs that can fill those needs. Soon, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Expand existing offerings

Along with streamlining existing business processes, API integration can also expand the number of offerings you can provide to your customers. For instance, by simply working with another company’s API, you could work in a greater area or even expand to new industries with your product offering. How do you think start-ups like Instagram were able to build such a large platform with only a handful of developers? APIs, that’s how.

That being said, we only recommend API integration when it makes logical sense in the context of your business and offerings. While APIs are a great tool, adding to many at once can stretch your work thin, reducing the quality of the entire system.

Boost user base growth

In addition to expanding existing offerings, APIs can contribute to user base growth as well. Through the combination of additional offerings and less time spent on keeping processes in place, you and your employees will have more time to focus on growth and more opportunities to bring in new users.

Again, a common mistake here is trying to grow too fast too quickly. If you spread yourself to thin, while you may be growing the number of users in your database, they won’t stick around for long if the quality of your product slips. Consistent, slow growth will always lead to better results than cutting corners.

Focus on core values

As we have already mentioned, API integration can streamline processes to free up time for other endeavors and projects. This free time should also be applied toward a renewed focus on core values and what makes your business unique. Often, these core values get lost in the shuffle, but if you can use API integration to refocus on these principles, not only will your team be happier with their work, but so will your customers.

Improve user experience

Finally, the last benefit of API integration we will review is the relationship between adding in APIs to your systems and improved user experience. As you may be aware, UX or user experience design has become a way to stand out from the crowd by offering users an exceptional experience when working with your product.

Since APIs can reduce the amount of time between asking for and receiving a response, users will appreciate any improvements in efficiency. However, in the same way API integration can refocus your team on core values, it can also free up time that can be spent on UX and UI. Regardless, API integration is always a step in the right direction when it comes to creating a better experience for your users.

How go get started

As you can see, there are plenty of benefits that come with API integration, but you may still be wondering: “Ok, so how do I get started?” Thankfully for you, the process is really pretty simple and with over 16,000 publicly available APIs, you don’t have to search far to find what you need. That being said, it’s worth conducting a fair amount of background research before committing to an API, as you will need to have a clear understanding of what they will do with your data.

Other than that, the only thing holding you back from getting started with API integration is you. You have to make this decision to improve your business, no one else will do it for you. All we can hope is that we gave you the tools you need to not only get started with API integration, but actually create a solution that thrives. In this pursuit, we wish you the best of luck!