API integration is a relatively new concept in the world of software technology. It has been brought into the mainstream vernacular because of the amazing capability it brings to the table. So what is API integration and why should you care? Well, you should care because API integration will most likely be bringing a change to your work environment. That could be in the form of more capable and efficient software technology you work with or could even put you out of a job entirely. API integration automates a lot of business processes, so if you find yourself doing a lot of manual data entry as your main function, you may be at risk of being replaced by a bit of code. So let’s dive in to find out what is API integration and how it is changing the world around you!
What is an API?
To understand API integration, you must first understand what an API is. API stands for Application programming interface. In technical terms, an API is a set of protocols and routines that allows someone to interact with a web-based application or web tool. In nontechnical terms, an API allows you to interact with a software program that is in the cloud. You type in commands using a user interface, usually a web page, the commands are received and then information is sent back to you.
The API is what allows you to interact with the application. It acts as the messenger, telling the application what you want and then sending the information back to you. A company with a useful web tool will often release its API so other programmers can develop software that interacts with it. An API allows a popular software program to become a platform. Apple’s IOS API is what allows so many non-apple developers to create apps that run on the IOS platform. If it weren’t for the API, developers would have no idea how to interact with IOS to create the many apps Apple users use today.
What is API Integration?
So now that we have the concept of an API covered, we can move on to API integration. API integration is when developers have created a way for two or more API’s to interact without the need for any human intervention.
In the image above, you can see that these two applications are now able to communicate with each other and exchange information without the need for a user to relay any of the information. These API’s are now integrated. This integration can allow software applications to communicate in real time and share information and functionality. The integration can allow for this exchange to be automated, creating new functionality and efficiency, where there was none before.
How is API Integration Changing the World?
Now that you understand what is API integration and how it enables automation it should be easier to see how this technology can change the world.
If you can imagine the first internal combustion engine being displayed to the public, you could see how imagination would have had to help you understand how the technology was a revolution of the time. People just saw a series of metal pistons moving violently on their own. They could not see piloted flight, the automobile, and the many pieces of factory equipment this machine could power and then how these machines would dramatically change the world in a matter of years.
API integration is the next revolution on the near horizon. You may just see an automated exchange of information, but once this engine is hooked up to the right tools, the possibilities are endless. API integration will allow for instant communication between databases, web-based tools, and the internet of things.
Healthcare information can be taken using smart tools that are integrated with diagnostic applications and diagnoses can be performed in real time with no need to visit multiple physicians. Criminal records could be shared across state, country, and continent to identify criminal threats around the globe. And perhaps most salient, will be businesses that can connect siloed departments, so all of their critical information is not only shared but analyzed in new KPI’s that measure the success of a company in a fraction of the time and resources. Imagination can only go so far, and I am sure we will see more from this revolution than the examples I have just outlined. One thing is for sure, though, API integration will make its mark on this world. And the future looks much brighter because of it!
To learn more about API integration click here to read our article on everything SaaS users need to know about API integration!
Jeremy McCourt is an content producer in the enterprise software industry that focuses on NetSuite and related cloud-based software solutions.
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