How APIs Became Critical To Business

McKinsey recently identified the importance of defining an API Strategy for driving business growth. They found that, despite APIs being significant engine of business growth, most companies have not yet created a formal API strategy.

In this three part blog series we discuss why it's time that your organisation defined an API Strategy and how IntegrationWorks can significantly accelerate your strategy and help you avoid common API pitfalls.  

The business world is abuzz with the importance of APIs, so we’re delving into how APIs became critical to business outcomes.  Before we get into the business relevance of APIs, let's first discuss and define the term 'API'.

What's an API?

API is a technology term that stands for Application programming interface. Despite the pervasive existence of APIs within enterprise IT environments and cloud offerings, the term API has multiple meanings. Terminology confusion is common in the tech industry, so…

Long ago the term API mainly related to programming language specifications, within the scope of a particular programming language environment. Today, the term is commonly used to describe the interface used to access a remote function or data set over a network – in a programming language independent manner. There are other definitions too, but for this blog series we're only interested in APIs as interfaces.

APIs are already fundamental to your business

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are used for business benefit across the globe. They have flourished in recent years for a number of reasons, including:

  • The rising demands of digital connectivity. There are more and more apps, systems, and data stores to connect.
  • The simplification of technology connectivity. There has been a reduction in proprietary and complex connectivity technologies and a growth in open standards and simpler connectivity technology.

These days it is rare for any new technology, system, app, or device to come without an API, especially so for cloud systems. This means that your organisation is actually full of APIs already, and the number of APIs will rise rapidly over the coming years. 

APIs come in different shapes and sizes are used in a range of settings, so it is necessary for organisations to clearly categorise APIs so that they can leverage different types and styles for greatest business value. 

API-fuelled outcomes

Whilst APIs are a technology, they under are critical in the following business priority areas:

  • Platform Business - Banks now offer APIs to integrate payments directly into the digital lives and experiences of their customers (so no more fumbling to read and type out credit card numbers).  
  • Digital Partnering – Loyalty programmes now offer APIs to retailers to get real-time data on customer activity and give real-time loyalty offers.  
  • Digital Transformation – Enterprise mobile apps need to connect to enterprise data - via APIs.
  • Cloud Adoption – Cloud systems need to be integrated with one another and with on-premise systems, via APIs.  That's why almost all cloud products have APIs. 
  • Internet of Things – As we instrument the physical world and integrate data feeds into the enterprise, the things (your enterprise systems and intermediary systems) communicate via APIs.  
  • Supply Chain Operations Efficiency -  Lowering the cost of improving the timeliness of ordering. 
  • Business Operations Efficiency – Ensuring  that data can be moved to where it needs to be to avoid slow, manual copying and related quality and customer experience issues. 
  • Acquisitions and Mergers – Lowering the cost of an increasing the speed of business and technology integration.
  • Regulatory Directives – For example, PSD2 and GDPR in the European Union define new regulations on data sharing. 


Are you planning any of the above?  What's your plan to drive business benefits?


With APIs critical to business outcomes, an API Strategy is now a crucial part of business strategy.  The IntegrationWorks API Strategy service brings together over a decade of experience in providing clients with strategic API leadership across a wide range of industry sectors. In the next blog we'll go into more detail on the value of taking a strategic approach with APIs.


Want to know more about API Strategy and how it can help your business? Check out the next article in the API Strategy series:

Interested in how an API Strategy could help your business? Read the next article in this series.

Want to know more about how IntegrationWorks can help you define your API Strategy? Watch the Video:
Watch the video