by • May 18, 2021
In the era of digital transformation, businesses in all sectors are learning to grow and adapt. While the rate of change has made it difficult for many businesses to keep up, the fact is that change, particularly change driven by new technology, is going to be an ongoing reality of most organizations. In particular, innovations in software technology are fuelling these changes at an unprecedent rate, and APIs are often central to how organizations manage this change, adopt new technologies and modernize their suite of applications.
APIs work to integrate apps and microservices. While apps may not be compatible by default due to differences in programming language, operating system, age, or file type, APIs can bridge the gaps. They’re useful in integrating legacy software with a modern application framework or bringing in new features to your workflows. But APIs are also useful in packaging these apps and services into one convenient product. There are some enterprises using APIs for this purpose, turning their previous business model into full-service platforms with new products. Read on to see some examples of businesses becoming platforms, and how APIs make this happen.
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In software speak, a platform is a set of software that lays the foundation for your business ecosystem. Anything your business offers will build on that platform. When a business becomes a platform, this means they’re re-structuring their software offerings into a consumable package. They can even turn this platform into a new revenue stream by offering controlled access to third-party developers. The API comes into play here by tying these programs and services together so they can be accessed by a single interface or developer portal.
Here are a few examples of enterprises leveraging APIs to transform their business practices.
Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft make it possible for just about anyone to become a cab driver. This opened up new transportation methods in areas outside of major cities and created a new revenue stream for individuals. The system relies on extensive satellite navigation, but it wasn’t the rideshare services that laid the groundwork.
Google has such a dominating presence in the satellite navigation field that other companies opt to use their maps rather than create their own. This works out well for Google, which offers its own API to these partners, The partners use the API and satellite maps as the platform on which to build their own services. Google earns a new revenue stream by renting out its platform. The customer experience also gets a boost as people have easier access to transportation. It’s a win for everyone.
Once upon a time, amateur photographers could get their pictures developed at the local pharmacy. But with most people moving to digital photography and social media, you could be forgiven for thinking the era of the photo department is dead. Walgreens took their photo centers in a new direction with the help of APIs from various social media outlets. Now you can print your favorite Instagram photos in store or order them from home.
One of the oldest social media platforms is still going strong, in part because of their constant addition of new features. Marketplace, blood donation, COVID-19 resources, games, fundraisers, climate science information, and many, many more microservices pop up on Facebook’s interface on a regular basis. These additions all plug directly into the social media site’s main interface. Facebook’s API makes this possible by acting as the foundation for all these new features. The discrete nature of these microservices also means Facebook can pull the plug quickly if needed — say if the audience loses interest in the service or it doesn’t work as intended.
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Modern business is turning into an API economy: a new collection of business ideas and practices that focus on added functionality and data exchange. APIs sit at the center of this, linking services and platforms together in ways that weren’t possible before. The greater API ecosystem that we’re seeing now is an explosion of business and software innovation.
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