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API integration is a key component of our modern working world and it’s here to stay. As our consumption of technology increases and businesses clamour to reinvent themselves with a digital transformation strategy - harnessing the power of software integration will become more vital than ever.
We know that the world of tech and software development can often be confusing for our clients (and people in general). In this article, we’re going to dig into what we mean by software integration and why it’s relevant to you and your business.
What is software integration?
Software integration, often synonymous with API integration (Application Programming Interfaces), make up the backbone of any application. Think of APIs as messenger pigeons. Their purpose is to open a communication channel between machines, systems, and tools. And once systems start talking to each other, cool stuff happens.
Why should I care about software integration?
Well, think about it for a second. How are you even reading this? How does this article appear across our social media channels and no matter what device you’re using, you can find it, click on a link, and read this text?
The fact is that we use APIs every single day. Often without realising it.
Examples of API integration include: WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, with each being powered with an API. But It’s not just used for social media applications. Software integration is used everywhere to amplify productivity, sync large amounts of data, and drive a company’s profits.
Fundamentally, without APIs, our modern world would simply cease to exist as they are the structural supports that hold together technological developments.
API integration - Efficiencies and Scalability
APIs introduce a level of efficiency and scalability that reduces the impact of change within your organisation.
They allow data to be automatically sent and received, removing the human component from the process and reducing the probability of human errors whilst also speeding up the process.
As a company grows larger, the amount of data transfers required increases very quickly. Having API integrations in place solves any pain points this might create as it allows large amounts of data to be transferred easily and quickly with minimal errors.
API integration - Enhanced Security
Security is a hot topic right now - for good reason. If your business is keen to keep its data as secure as possible while improving efficiencies and productivity (and therefore increasing profit), it’s good to know that APIs provide an extra layer of security.
This is achieved due to the fact that when accessing an application, the device you are connecting with, i.e. a smartphone, is never fully exposed to the server. Similarly, the server is never fully exposed to the smartphone. The API shares only the necessary information to complete the required tasks.
How can software integration help my business?
The more accurate question here (in our opinion) is: how can it not help your business?
Let’s work with a hypothetical case study.
The scenario: client A uses a digital tool that captures time worked against a predefined project. This feeds directly into the accounting system that calculates and produces monthly invoices to clients. The issue was that the business also needed a digitised system that monitored action items, assigned tasks, and individual KPI performance metrics.
The problem: while having two systems that worked independently of each other wasn’t “bad”, it did mean that team members had to manually enter data into both systems. Inevitably, people started getting frustrated with duplicating effort and there was a drop off in use. Not great when revenue is involved.
The solution: develop an application that uses API technology that joins up both systems and enables a single data entry point for team members.
Result: a clean interface that increased user engagement, created accurate customer invoices based on real-time work, improved communication around task assignment and completion, as well as increased visibility around individual KPIs.
In hindsight, this was a no-brainer. But sometimes it’s hard to step back and recognise where your pain points are and be open to finding a better, more productive way of working.
So, you know the what and the why. Now we’re going to talk about the how. This is where things get a bit technical… if you’ve read enough already and we’ve managed to convince you that introducing an API integration into your business sounds like a seriously good idea (it is) - then get in touch. Or, feel free to read on…
How does software integration work?
In a programming environment, an API eases programming by only revealing resources and actions a software developer needs. Unlike a UI (User Interface), only a programmer is able to use an API directly to write and test the intended code for the application.
API integration - Endpoints
Endpoints constitute the building blocks of an API. Endpoints are the code in the API that allows machines to communicate. A request can be sent by the API for information from a web server and expect to receive a response. These endpoints specify the correct resource to access, and the instructions on what to do with that resource. This is where the different request methods come into play.
API integration - Request methods
Request methods tell the machine the specific type of actions that are intended in the request. There are 9 request methods, which are GET, POST, PUT, PATCH, HEAD, CONNECT, OPTIONS, TRACE, DELETE.
Each of these request methods initiates a specific action. For example: DELETE would (amazingly enough!) be used to delete a resource, such as an unwanted blog article. Whereas, the CONNECT request method initiates two way communications with the target resource, for example a remote endpoint like a computer.
Ultimately, the API works as a buildable list of either automated or manually-initiated actions and events between machines that you want to happen.
In summary… software integrations can drive productivity, eliminate waste and human error, and contribute to increased profitability.
We hope you got a small taste of the benefits of software integrations. Want to find out more? Check out how We Do Code can develop software integration solutions designed around your needs here or contact us to discuss how we can solve your business pain points.