The role of APIs in business process automation
What is business process automation? In today’s digitally disrupted economy, organizations across industries face ever-increasing competition. As a result, differentiation has become synonymous with convenience and speed. For example, in the financial industry, successful companies can now process mortgage applications online in minutes, while, historically, this process took weeks and required several in-person meetings. Across all industries – from financial services to retail – delivering this speed to end-customers requires streamlining and automating back-end operations through technology, a process known as business process automation.
But business process automation is not simply about streamlining or automating a process; rather, it is an approach for taking data from back-end systems and self-serving it to the business to create processes––whether it is creating new revenue opportunities or delivering new products and services. By looking at business process automation through this lens, companies can transform themselves into digital platforms or, in other words, enablers of digital transformation.
That said, how do companies automate business processes? Traditional approaches to business process automation involve implementing a Business Process Management (BPM) tool and integrating systems through point-to-point connections. These approaches, however, no longer suffice because these one-to-one connections lead to tangled connections which, in turn, hinders visibility to data in underlying systems. In this digital age, this visibility is necessary for business process automation speed, especially since a single process can now span an average of 35 different systems .
Using APIs for business process automation
APIs can be key to business process automation. APIs are software intermediaries that allow two applications to talk to each other. Over the years, the “modern” API has taken on some characteristics that makes it extraordinarily valuable. Today, APIs can be key for business process automation because they enable companies to easily provide controlled access to a defined scope of data or functionality. Additionally, APIs are not restricted by limitations on where the data resides (e.g. cloud, on-premise, etc.) and insulate companies from the complexities of the system that houses the data.
As a result, each API can be treated as a discrete component – or composite application – that represents some part of business process. This means the API can serve as a ‘contract’ between two agents––providing the data or services (the output) in exchange for a valid input. These characteristics make APIs a valuable tool for integrating applications and systems for business process automation. This integration approach is known as API-led connectivity.
Learn more about API-led connectivity and see how it can enable your team to adopt a smarter approach to business process automation.