by Tony Harris
• June 1, 2021
As the vast majority of organizations set their sights on modernizing their business, they’ll need to integrate their growing application library. In today’s world of business technology, this means making use of APIs. The many other advantages for APIs will do your organization no good without a properly integrated foundation. But sometimes integration will come with unexpected challenges. API technology has come a long way toward simplifying the integration process, making complex digital transformations accessible to small businesses and non-IT industries. Read on to learn more about APIs and integration and how APIs can help you overcome a number of the challenges that are often faced when tackling this problem.
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APIs have evolved beyond their middleware origins to an essential piece of business technology. The development of API technology has led to increased innovation and a new API-led economy. But this advancement in innovation has not come without its risks. There are now a lot more ‘consumers’ of APIs who rely on APIs to ensure that different applications can effectively and securely communicate with each other. Increased reliance on API use has also resulted in an increased demand on IT infrastructure to ensure the effective and timely operation of API ‘calls’. APIs have therefore needed to evolve to include ‘logging, limiting and auditing’ features, security controls, administration consoles and developer portals to name a few. These advancements has meant that integrating your internal applications, systems and data sources is not only technically feasible, but delivered in a way that reduces some of the risks associated with these activities, particularly when done at scale.
The software industry is still not without competition, and with that comes competing applications, programming languages, and operating systems. Competition isn’t necessarily bad. It’s more often than not a driving force for new innovations in our economy. But it does lead to forked innovation rather than linear. APIs give businesses the option to pick-and-choose apps and services that previously wouldn’t have integrated well. By acting as the conduit between two disparate programs and linking them with one simple interface, business leaders can create their own structure with the services they want and nothing they don’t. You’re no longer bound by license agreements.
The traditional enterprise structure of siloed departments can hinder your digital transformation more than you think. Data silos keep you from seeing the whole picture of your business. This locks you out of potentially beneficial data analysis, new insights from your data, and key business decisions. To overcome this challenge, you’ll need something which facilitates the passage of data from it’s source in a secure, reliable, timely and accurate manner. This is particularly true in the context of enterprise applications which have the need to draw data from a range of organizational assets across multiple departments. In an age where many business functions are now consolidated into a centralized ‘shared services’ arrangement, the need for access to data across multiple departments is even more pronounced.
Let’s say you’ve been using the same program in your business since the day you opened. You know it like the back of your hand, and it has all your data from the past several years of operation. Your only problem is that this program was long retired, and no longer supported by the developer. It’s now a legacy program. But what can you do? Do you migrate all your data to a new program that might have more features but costs you time and money to implement? Or do you leave the program as is and construct a complicated workflow around the fact that this legacy program can’t talk to your other apps?
With APIs, you have a third option. Legacy app integration is now possible, bringing your ageing system up to the modern age. You can even add new authentication and other security features that were previously lacking. Streamline your workflow and save your business time and money that would’ve gone to implementation and training, simply by building an API. Knowing how APIs and integration work hand-in-hand will prove highly valuable when determining how to best modernize you suite of legacy applications.
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