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There is a lot of talk concerning API integrations and in the digital transformation domain, they are critical. But it’s easy for a non-technical person to get lost in the sea of standards, terms and changing trends.

So, what is “API integration”?

API integration is the connection between two or more applications via their APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow systems to exchange data sources. API integrations power processes throughout many sectors and layers of an organisation to keep data in sync, enhance productivity and drive revenue.

API is an interface and is part and parcel of almost everything in the digital world. No matter the business and the size of the enterprise, APIs enable seamless operation and performance of applications and web systems.

However, there is an additional requirement to achieve optimal and automated business processes and procedures that interact and share critical data. This is where API integration comes in.

Why is API Integration necessary?

API connectivity helps applications share data and communicate with each other without human interruption. You enable communication between two web tools or applications through their APIs. It allows organisations to automate systems, enhance the seamless sharing of data, and integrate current applications.

Enterprises cannot overlook the importance of API integration in the modern world. After the explosion of cloud-based products and apps, organisations must create a connected system where data is relayed automatically between various software tools. API integration makes that possible as it allows sharing process and enterprise data among applications in a given ecosystem.

It unlocks a new level of flexibility of information and service delivery. It also makes the embedding of content from different sites and apps easy. An API acts as the interface that permits the integration of two applications.

Examples of API integration

E-commerce sites are among the most significant users of API integrations. Web stores have order management systems that process shopping and shipping orders. But to process them, they need to access servers and databases which include customers, products, and inventory levels.

There is an ongoing data interchange, which connects the online store to the shopping cart. Enterprises achieve this through API integration.

The payment gateway integration is another example. As a consumer, you don’t see the actual transaction when paying for a product online. But in the background, there is data transfer for verification of your credit card/debit card details. The payment gateway API is integrated into the web store and often hidden out of sight.

Workato Onboarding

Fig1. Example of using Workato to Automate Employee offboarding and connections via API

How API Integration is Achieved

Currently, there are several ways to achieve API integration. They significantly depend on the individual needs of your system or business.

Custom Integrations

Custom-built integrations involve hand-written scrip from a software developer with a deep understanding and knowledge of the API documentation. This technique became popular some years back, but the cost of custom development (and ongoing maintenance) has made it less attractive against newer integration methods. It can also be very time consuming to take this approach.

Connector Applications

Connector applications are designed to facilitate the data transfer between two well-known software platforms. Connectors are affordable, make it quicker to deploy standard API solutions and make integrations easier to manage and maintain. They also reduce the need for API management.

API Integration Platforms

These are typically SaaS applications dedicated to developing API integrations that help join other SaaS applications and systems.

They support a certain level of flexibility as you can build custom integration apps using robust tools available in the market. Some like RapidQL can fetch and transform data into a form that your app can understand with just a single query. It permits you to make requests to different private and public APIs as well as databases simultaneously.

These IPaaS services can also allow you to connect and stack multiple APIs, which goes a long way to helping Enterprises automate their workflows.

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API Integration Process

There are various API integration tools to choose from, and after you select your preferred one, you must follow a particular process that features three essential parts.

First, you need to evaluate your goals and business processes. After identifying the pain points, you can then figure out how integrating internal and external platforms can help eradicate these problems. It is essential to get support from individuals such as System Admins and Software Analysts who can champion your integration efforts and help highlight the benefits to your enterprise.

When you have determined your goals, you can now start the development process and build a custom application. Your app can then interact with software platform APIs to establish new functionalities that help accomplish your goals.

Finally, you need to perform some tests on your system to ensure that the integration app is up to the task and is bug-free.

Benefits of API integration

There are several notable benefits of API integration. The most notable include:

1. Automation

API integration allows the handoff of information and data from one application to the next automatically. Successful automation helps eliminate the manual (human) component, which saves time and dramatically reduces errors.

2. Scalability

API integration allows businesses to grow since they don’t need to start from scratch when creating connected systems and applications.

3. Streamlined Visibility/Communication/Reporting

API integration allows you end-to-end visibility of all systems and processes for improved communication and reporting. With a streamlined approach, you can track and monitor data effectively, thereby creating robust reports based on specific and comprehensive datasets.

4. Reduces Errors

API integration allows the transfer of complex and voluminous data with reduced errors and inadequacies.

Conclusion

API integrations are the glues that hold together technological developments. There’s currently a booming market for API integrations and API integration tools such as Workato (leaders on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for IPaaS services).

It’s safe to assume that we’ll be seeing these platforms continue to evolve soon to address even more elaborate Enterprise challenges.

If you would like to find out more about working with APIs at an enterprise level then take a look at gend.co/workato where you can request a 30 day trial and bespoke demo of the platform.  

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Digital Transformation Workato API

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