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Your Non-Technical Guide: How to Achieve Successful API Integration in Your Business

Consider the following scenario: an airline decides not to make its flight schedules and pricing data available to third-party travel sites, which is common practice in the digital travel ecosystem and enabled by a strong API approach. Such an airline would be short-lived.

When clients search for flights on prominent websites such as Travelocity or Expedia, an airline that does not have an API strategy will not show up in the search results. This might cost the airline hundreds of thousands of dollars in income it would have gotten otherwise.

A substantial proportion of APIs are secured by a paywall, which may make API testing difficult. Fortunately, there are several free APIs to use.

Therefore, a successful application programming interface (API) integration can lead to increased revenue, agility, flexibility, and innovation. 

What Exactly Is API Integration?

In reality, application programming interfaces are used to ease the job of developers while also disseminating ready-to-use products. By making connections across various applications or software, API integration enables you to avoid the “creation from scratch” stage.

APIs are mostly used to integrate resource-intensive technologies to reduce time and effort while competing. Instead of developing its GPS-tracking systems, Uber may incorporate Google Maps API into their app more easily and quickly. Regardless, the Google Maps API provides a range of additional capabilities, such as navigation and up-to-date location information. 

How Do API Integrations Work?

While user interfaces are built with the end user, a human being, in mind, application programming interfaces (APIs) are established with the computer or the whole application in mind. This is the simplest way to explain APIs.

The user logs into the application to offer more clarification. In online applications and websites, the application programming interface (API) is a layer that lies between the application and the server. Once the user has made a certain request, the program responds to the human user.

To work correctly, the API will ask the server to fulfill the user’s request using the established protocols that APIs are supposed to follow by definition. Simply described, application programming interfaces act as software mediators.

The Key Steps to Successful API Integration

 When integrating APIs, it is crucial to create an API that will survive for a long time and that people will like using. You will see time and cost savings by using an API that is both expandable and versatile. If you want to design the ideal API solutions, make sure to follow these best practices:

  • Set Your Targets

Even though this is a critical phase, many businesses do not devote enough attention to it. This is especially true for application programming interfaces (APIs), which are often seen as a way to use technology instead of a core business strategy.

We recommend that acceptable answers be provided to the following three questions at this stage: where are we now, where do we want to be, and how do we get there?

The goal here is to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish via the API integration and how you want to measure the level of success. Those in charge of the deployment will be able to keep the project on track by following a plan and establishing key performance indicators (KPIs). This will also allow them to pinpoint whether or not they are making adequate development.

  • Change Your Mind about APIs

Before you incorporate APIs into your company’s business plan, you must first change your mindset about them. It’s not their fault, but for many years, many individuals in information technology misunderstood the application programming interface (API) for code or technology.

It is advantageous to reconsider how APIs are used in your organization.  Most importantly, the user experience should take priority over the software’s functionality.

  • Upgrade the API Management Toolset

API management necessitates the use of proper API management tools. If you don’t already have the necessary tools, you’ll have to build them yourself or buy them. Alternatively, bring what you currently have up to date. To enable new customer experiences and commercial objectives, you will need a solution that enables API management across the whole API lifetime.

Control over the API must be offered at all stages of the solution’s lifespan, from design through development, deployment, and even retirement. With the API management toolkit, you should be able to grant API access permissions to certain individuals or computers.

  • Engage the Rest of the Company

Involve your key decision-makers to get the initial integration project off to a flying start. Get their support from the start, and everyone else will follow and welcome the change.

When taking the idea “to the boardroom,” it is critical to focus on the commercial benefit of the integration rather than the APIs themselves. Focus on the business goals and how integration can help you accomplish them faster. Once the API-led integration project is up and running, make the progress and results visible to the rest of the organization and continue to demonstrate the advantages.

  • Determine Your Resources

Do you have the in-house capabilities required to conceive, plan, and implement API-led integration projects? Will it be required to hire more people, train existing employees, or fully outsource the projects? Consider working with a systems integrator who has a track record of effectively carrying out successful API integration. They will help you avoid common mistakes, accelerate API delivery, train your people, and free up your team to focus on other strategic duties.  

It is critical to understand your capabilities from every viewpoint to determine how the integration process will unfold.

  • Ensure Documentation

When the application programming interface (API) has been completed and is ready for release, documentation is an important step in the development process that must also be completed as a deliverable at the same time. Clear and comprehensive documentation will be very helpful to development teams as well as future API teams in their efforts to successfully interact with the API.

The provision of extensive documentation serves as a handbook for teams to refer to if any issues emerge, reducing the amount of time that the API development team must spend participating in manual support cycles resolving concerns.

The documentation must include an overview, getting started tutorials, authorization and authentication, rate restriction, status and error handling, usage limitation, threshold considerations, data input, and output, as well as best practices and examples, to get things started. However, since each integration use case is unique, additional acceptable subjects should be considered and emphasized during the development process. This ensures that the necessary information about how to connect with the API is provided.

  • Put the New System to the Test

At this stage, you should put it to the test in the field and see how it functions under real-life circumstances. By putting the new strategy to the test with only a chosen department or team, or inside a small portion of the IT ecosystem, you will be able to assess whether or not the integration strategy works as expected and whether or not any revisions are necessary. 

Even if no deployment goes perfectly, a trial run ensures that early hiccups do not cause problems for the entire company. Consider this an internal proof of concept, in which the early discoveries will greatly contribute to the success of the larger endeavor you are working on. This proof-of-concept mechanism should be properly communicated to all stakeholders, including specified expectations of what will and will not be done during this trial run. It is also critical to ensure that the proof-of-concept phase is adequately recorded. 

  • Track Success

The development and project management teams should monitor various critical performance metrics while implementing a new API integration. Involve stakeholders in the process of understanding and monitoring the metrics used to analyze performance to assess whether or not the milestones are being fulfilled, as well as whether or not any issues can be rectified and mitigated

Include sales and marketing teams to assess consumer experience and feedback, perform customer data analysis to identify new and unique industry trends, and track leads and sales opportunities. This is significant from a business standpoint. There is a chance that a new API integration on the market may generate and collect substantial business information that will be critical for your company’s future.

  • Create a Long-Term Framework to Address Issues

Even if you have the most capable platform, expertise, and staff at your disposal, things will still go wrong from time to time. The strategy in which issues are handled makes all the difference.

Challenges are inevitable whenever you undertake the process of developing an API. There will be many instances of apps not syncing properly, data being lost in the process, and critical processes being neglected. At every stage of the API’s lifecycle, there is a chance that something will go wrong. This will cause delays and interruptions for both the company and its customers. 

Setting up standard operating procedures for how to deal with problems is the best thing you can do, no matter where they might happen in your ecosystem. Come up with workarounds, and figure out when a workaround is appropriate. You will be able to make quicker progress with your integration as a result, which will help minimize delays.

Conclusion

Businesses may focus on growth when they use an API solution since it reduces the need for them to manually collaborate on system data. An API integration platform ensures that information is correctly updated and distributed throughout the organization, even as the company grows and more interfaces are implemented.

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