A decade or two ago, IT was all about applications. Whether it was a word processing app, a spreadsheet, a back office reconciliation system or a database, each application was the focus of a particular department or industry. Few applications could communicate with other apps.
Eventually, organizations learned that the real value of an application comes from its ability to interact with others. A CRM system is pretty limited if it is not interacting with HR, customer services and lead generation applications. A front office trading app is useless unless it communicates with risk management and settlement systems.
The real value in applications comes from their integration with others. The application programming interface (API) thereby becomes an application’s gateway to the rest of the richly diversified world of applications.
Imagine a world where all of your data is immediately accessible to you and those you choose; that includes your customers, partners, suppliers, banks and just about everyone in your ecosystem. How will you manage this complicated world of data access?
APIs will provide the answer, but the days of needing sophisticated coding and integration skills to make them work are coming to an end. Companies will expose more APIs—both internally and externally—and need to find an easy way for users to find the right API, then figure out how to use it. Self-service integration will allow organizations to explore other APIs and connect them quickly and easily. One day, they will be able to on-board whatever APIs they want, without needing to code at all.
This may sound like an over-simplification, but it is already happening. One example is Stripe, a unicorn start-up that allows developers to add a few lines of code to their own app and start taking payments for a small fee per transaction. Embedded payments apps are hot right now, and Visa has just decided to take on the likes of Stripe and PayPals by turning to developers. Visa Developer is a platform that will allow developers and other companies to access the company's payments tools.
Three main factors will decide who wins the API battle. Number one is the simplicity of finding, understanding and invoking the API—the usability. The second is the response time, uptime and scalability. Third, the payment models offered to developers must suit their business needs.
Self-service APIs will make on-boarding a new API consumer easy; internal and external developers will understand how the API works, be able to register themselves, get security credentials, register the app and start using the API.
A self-service style integration platform will give you the ability to not just make all of your data immediately accessible to you (and your customers, partners, suppliers, etc.), but also to pick and choose which apps you want to use by self-service on-boarding. It’s Pick-and-Mix for APIs!