The Value of APIs for Business
As a growing number of consumers and businesses incorporate web and mobile apps into their daily routines, businesses are discovering valuable new uses for previously isolated data sources. APIs (application programming interfaces) are the tools that allow businesses to put that data to use — by inspiring innovative developers to create new business opportunities and improve existing products, systems, and operations.
An enterprise should develop an API strategy consisting of both public and private APIs. When an enterprise business releases public APIs that power consumer-facing applications, it enables new ways to engage and connect with its customers through web, mobile, and social apps. And by developing private APIs, businesses can offer their employees and partners new tools that help them streamline operations and serve customers even better. In this dynamic environment — as more and more businesses create and incorporate APIs — it’s increasingly critical for innovative businesses to develop and execute successful API strategies.
APIs Enable Businesses
Connect With Customers
An effective API can give existing and potential customers new reasons to interact with a business and connect with it on a personal level — and to share their experiences with others. As an example, take the hypothetical case of a national auto insurance provider. Over the years, as part of its normal business operations and planning, it has assembled and maintained comprehensive, detailed, and up-to-date data on the quality and condition of local roads all across the country. By making this previously internal data publicly accessible through an API, the company unleashes the creativity of developers and related businesses to devise new uses for the data. Developers create apps that recommend driving routes based in part on road quality. Civic groups develop apps that empower citizens to band together and petition local officials for better funding of transit infrastructure. The insurance company itself gives potential customers a way to get rate quotes — whenever they want, and from wherever they happen to be — through web and mobile apps. Simply exposing this previously isolated and hidden data through a public API has given the insurance company a powerful way to extend its reach to thousands of new customers — who now regularly connect with the company in a more personal, meaningful way. This API strategy has allowed the company the opportunity to improve customer engagement as well as creating new products and new channels that can be used in increasingly innovative ways.
The insurance company could also develop private APIs for use by its own employees — for example, to provide its sales team with information that can help them give accurate quotes more efficiently, even when they are on the road, through web and mobile apps. Another API could enable the company’s claims department to more easily access data that will help them process customer claims more quickly, more conveniently, and with fewer errors. These are just a few examples of how an internal API strategy can improve operational efficiency and customer service for businesses.
Challenges of Developing and Integrating APIs for Business
Over time, most businesses deploy an ever more complicated mix of technologies, computer systems, applications, and processes to solve their organizational challenges. These legacy systems become increasingly inefficient as they age, in part because they often are not interoperable with newer technologies. A business that depends on such legacy systems will usually encounter problems when attempting to add newer software and services, such as SaaS applications and modern APIs. Sometimes these problems can be addressed with point-to-point integrations among existing systems. In time, however, these custom point-to-point integrations create multiple, fragile, and complicated dependencies that cost businesses customers and resources — and are by nature prone to failure.
Another challenge for businesses in developing their API strategy is the lack of access to effective tools for designing, testing, and monitoring those APIs and a vibrant developer community that can provide feedback and insights into an API’s design and features. These are critical factors when a business is developing well-crafted, engaging APIs that will be widely adopted.
MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform™ offers businesses easy-to-implement solutions for API integration and development. It’s one platform that businesses can use to design, build, secure, monitor, and manage APIs.
Simplified API Management, Design, and Development
Anypoint Platform makes it easy for businesses to incorporate seamless integration and interoperability throughout an enterprise. Anypoint Platform offers a number of valuable components — such as CloudHub and Mule as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) — that make it easy to share information across applications, services, and systems — even legacy systems. These solutions provide connectivity that allows organizations to unlock their systems and data, so they can create powerful, cutting-edge APIs.
Anypoint™ Connectors enable instant API connectivity to some of the most popular business applications and services. With a library of pre-built business application integration solutions, organizations can rapidly connect and integrate CRM, accounting, billing, marketing, and other business applications and systems. Unlike other integration options, Anypoint Connectors are built and managed on MuleSoft’s enterprise integration platform, so businesses can deploy integrations rapidly, either onsite or in the cloud.
In addition, MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform for APIs delivers the tools businesses need to design and build APIs that developers will want to use — and to ensure that those APIs perform and scale to meet enterprise requirements.
With tools to support businesses at every step in the development and implementation of APIs, Anypoint Platform for APIs allows you to:
- Consult with app developers to design great APIs. Anypoint Platform for APIs facilitates close collaboration between API and app developers throughout the API lifecycle. And by leveraging RAML tooling, the API Platform offers an onramp for API developers to design RESTful APIs quickly, using expressive, intuitive language. As soon as an API developer designs an API, application developers can interact with it, test it, provide feedback, and document potential use cases — all in a single design environment. This close collaboration ensures that the API will inspire app developers, which in turn ensures widespread adoption
- Take your API from concept to reality — fast. Getting your API up and running requires more than great design. By leveraging MuleSoft’s proven, trusted runtime, the API Platform allows you to rapidly build the API once it’s designed — and to ensure that it performs well, scales to support your growing community of app developers, and remains secure and protected against unauthorized access.
- Take the guesswork out of API management and monitoring. The API Platform provides all of the tools you need to manage and monitor APIs and the application developers who use them. Create contracts with API consumers to control access, establish SLAs, or throttle calls to API endpoints. Choose from pre-packaged policy templates, or create your own to manage compliance, security, and quality of service. And dashboard analytics make it easy to monitor usage, compliance with SLAs, and overall API performance.
- Drive engagement with your API. Anypoint Platform for APIs takes the guesswork out of engaging the developer community with your API. Create and publish interactive docs and code samples, so developers can get started with your API in minutes. Allow app developers to document use cases for the API as they’re discovered. And because they’re designed in RAML, your APIs will be concise and easy to understand.
These and other components of MuleSoft’s API and integration solutions make it easy for businesses to design, develop, implement, and monitor useful and engaging APIs — even when they need to be integrated with legacy systems. Anypoint Platform for APIs gives businesses a powerful way to leverage the useful data that’s already being stored in their internal systems, and use a holistic API strategy to improve customer engagement, streamline business operations, and bring new products and services to market. It gives businesses access to a creative developer community that can build new ways for customers to interact and engage with their brands. And it gives businesses streamlined tools so internal departments can improve operations and work more efficiently.
Explore how MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform can help drive your business forward — to a more efficient, engaging, and profitable future.