Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Future of Business IT : APIs

There was a time when one had to walk into a secure facility to access a computer - it was called as the mainframe era. Today all computing power is available on a mobile devices over the Internet via APIs!

Mobile Apps and Web apps rely on APIs to connect, communicate programmatically over Internet. Google's recent purchase of Apigee underscores the need for application programming interfaces in today's connected economy.  In this new world of mobile apps, APIs are used to connect different systems via APIs. The constant exchange of data between systems powers the app economy.

For example when you open a Flipkart mobile app and browse a particular product supplied by a vendor, the app  in your mobile interacts with retailer's catalog via APIs and retailers site will also gather pricing data and other shipping data from vendor's side via another APIs to provide you a complete picture.

In short, Data is the new currency in the App world! The data is made available over API.

The Importance of APIs

As apps proliferate, the life-cycle of apps can be as low as few weeks!

In such a short life-cycle, it makes more sense to use APIs to collect, collate, present information to users and also transport information back to main IT systems. In short, APIs become more than just an interface, the APIs are the central hub of the applications.

APIs make business processes simpler and smoother by connecting firms' customer-facing apps to different back end IT systems. For example, one can launch a web site with uses facial recognition API from Clarifi to authenticate users, and present stock data from Bloomberg over another API and enable trade with another API.

The ability to integrate multiple APIs to create a seamless user friendly services is the need of the day. APIs allows firms to expand into new markets that was not possible before. For example, a bank in Vietnam can offer global investment services via APIs - which was not possible few years ago.

APIs enable interactions/transactions between a business and its customers across multiple devices, apps, social networks, business networks, and cloud services.

A Growing Market for APIs

Today, it is estimated that there are 15K - 20K APIs. This will grow into several millions by 2020. The market for paid API could exceed $3 Billion in 2020.

The size of the market implies that APIs are no longer a novelty. APIs are becoming he preferred way to interact with IT systems, exchange information/data and thus build valuable new products in the app economy.

Its no wonder that companies like IBM is offering open access to Watson, its AI platform via APIs. This allows IBM to attract new customers globally and develop an unprecedented range of new services.

Closing Thoughts

APIs as not just a technical concept. It is the preferred way to offer new, valuable services. Soon APIs will be the only way customers will interact, and APIs will be the way companies interconnect and interoperate.

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