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API: a small step towards a big change

A rating of the most popular API’s was recently published by Programmable web, and you probably have heard about the ones that make it into the top 15: Facebook API’s, Google API’s, Amazon or FedEx API’s. But there are many more. Today, nearly every company that has an IT budget is thinking about an API strategy and experts are discussing the API economy on a larger scale.

But what is an API and why does it matter? Application Programming Interface (API), in simple terms, is a computer program that defines a set of functions for accessing the features or data of an application, operation system or service. Companies typically use API’s to provide third-parties with a defined and governed accesses to their IT systems functionalities to share and exchange information, without actually “tapping” into their internal IT systems.

Whenever an application offers you to login, create an account or upload photos using your Facebook account, this application is using Facebook API’s. When you shop online and order FedEx delivery directly on the website, the retail platform is using FedEx API’s.

Why does API matter?

But it is not simply about sharing or liking. API’s become a number one business development tool for companies and an indivisible part of their digital transformation strategy, because they enable the creation of new revenue channels or new market opportunities for the business.

“Over the years we at Ricston have helped to implement API-led integration and connectivity solutions for leading banks, logistics and media companies worldwide,” says Mike Randall, CEO of Ricston.

“For example, Addison Lee, a major taxi service provider in UK, has recently turned to MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform to benefit from an API-led connectivity approach. This was a part of their transformation strategy,” he added.

“Now, thanks to their open API’s, hotel and flight aggregators can offer the Addison Lee taxi service as part of their journey planner – this has drastically increased Addison Lee’s addressable market,” he explained. “Addison Lee has also been able to reuse some API’s to accelerate a roll out of a new car booking application for mobile and wearables.”

The beauty of the API’s is that they can serve multiple purposes for the business – address internal integration needs, accelerate new applications development, connect with third-party businesses, keeping both C-suite and IT departments happy.

Businesses planning for digital transformation in Malta should consider advantages of having a well-defined API strategy in place to support their expansion and competition on a global scale.

A good place to start is to evaluate whether the organisation’s internal IT system is aligned with business goals, and whether it contains the necessary components and infrastructure for successful implementation of API’s.

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