APIs Aren’t the Whole Meal but They’re a Key Ingredient in the Digitization Recipe

APIs Aren’t the Whole Meal but They’re a Key Ingredient in the Digitization Recipe

It would be nice if a company could piece together its entire IT landscape with cloud APIs—DIY style—but this image of a “composable enterprise” that is occasionally conjured up will remain wishful thinking for the foreseeable future. Interfaces that developers use to access services in the cloud have mostly completed the Gartner hype cycle. The best of these services have been powering essential business processes for quite some time. However, that doesn’t mean that enterprises no longer purchase software solutions and are instead building their business applications with countless APIs and microservices to achieve the ultimate, infinite customization. Gartner Hype Cycle, generic Most buyers, even the innovative ones, build their IT using the DIY approach if, and only if, they believe they have no other choice. According to TechCrunch guest author David Lee, APIs are mainly used to plug holes and fill gaps with minimal effort. Particularly disruptive exceptions, such as Uber, only serve to prove this rule. But in reality, very few companies piece together all sorts of functions in a completely new way without incurring the risks and costs associated with the technology required to do so.

Why reinvent the wheel?

According to Lee, companies that don’t specialize in building software have completely different needs. Why should they create their own CRM software and reinvent the wheel when software for managing customer relationships has been around for quite some time and offered by numerous software providers in a variety of flavors? Instead, a company’s typical procurement strategy is to standardize everything on one technical platform—one that best meets the majority of their needs. This doesn’t mean that APIs are pointless for software users. It just means there is hardly a company out there that would want to assemble a core business software out of APIs, just like no one would want to build a car out of individual nuts, bolts, and ball bearings. Smart technology buyers tend towards cloud platforms with powerful APIs that build a bridge between the “most suitable” and the “fits perfectly,” explains Lee. Customers e.g. frequently ask his company for access to data they can visualize in customized reporting dashboards (btw, Retarus already has an API that can do this).

Users need complete solutions and APIs

While software developers need discrete APIs, users—and that means most companies—need a complete solution that is complemented by APIs. Surely there will one day be a company that can build an important application by pulling APIs out of a grab bag, and they will do a great job too. But unless it does this routinely, then it still won’t be a “composable enterprise.” And yet it’s still possible to profit from the API economy even without this craze. Cloud APIs are the latest “snack” for the software industry, according to conehead Marc Andreessen, who once said that software is “eating the world.” But they aren’t the whole meal. In an article on techtag, Konrad Krafft explains the fundamental importance of APIs for the digitization of (business processes in) companies. “Modern software systems are equipped from the very beginning with these APIs, simplifying connectivity with other systems,” explains the expert. “This connectivity is vital for automating communication between systems.” In reality, however, there are still many system landscapes with isolated data source systems, numerous point-to-point connections, and obscure data flows. Changing these types of infrastructures takes a lot of time and effort in terms of customization and coordination; it is a real challenge to integrate new data providers. Furthermore, the communication paths for data and information exchange are long, increasing the risk of redundant or even inconsistent data.

Replacing existing systems as digitization becomes reality

According to Krafft, companies that are now facing the challenge of digitization should ensure that questions relevant to the processes they want to automate are asked up-front and that all stakeholders are on board. Existing systems could be replaced as part of the digitization makeover too. But the decision as to whether this is feasible and sensible should be made by analyzing the existing processes, applications, and interfaces. Retarus’ cloud services ensure that your information flows quickly and securely—and always using the technology or the format that works best for you. The only system requirement you need to provide is an IP connection. This can be via the internet (VPN), ENX, a dedicated line, or MPLS. Retarus services are compatible with all standard interfaces. We also offer that little extra for those who need it in the form of customization. Learn more about Retarus Cloud Services here or contact the Retarus representative in your area.

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