Why APIs are Important to the Digital Economy
From the recent TMForum’s Digital Transformation Asia conference in Kuala Lumpur, there was an underlying theme around APIs and how it was a critical enabler for many of the key topics from customer experience to operational transformation and digital marketplaces. Yet for many businesses looking at Digital Transformation, APIs are still an enigma. So why are APIs so important?
Firstly, standardisation of APIs is crucial. Today, in many business infrastructures we typically have many various systems from different vendor technologies all speaking different system languages. So, to enable the communications, we will need do a system integration. Now let’s use a simple analogy like a website that translates documents from English to French which would take lot of time and effort for an organisation to build. Now imagine if you have multiple vendor systems from Huawei, Ericsson, IBM, Oracle etc all speaking different languages. It quickly become very complex to build this one translation, typically building a middleware layer or Enterprise Service Bus to create this translation for English to Chinese, Chinese to French, French to English and so on. So, with the complexity involved in translating the different languages and business rules etc, it quickly becomes a hindrance to change and agility in your organisations. The ability to adapt quickly is one of the key attributes to be successful in a dynamic digital market. In my experience, this is the magic of APIs, the creation of a common language which systems across many various vendor technologies can use to communicate, share information and send instructions creating new ways of doing business and services.
Secondly, APIs decouple. It decouples applications to infrastructure, it decouples between different vendor technologies and begins to break down the barriers within your organisations across IT, Network, Applications, 3rd party partners, and so on. In doing so, this simple communication and connection leads to transparency and enables a new way of doing business, redefining your operations across a unified IT and Network infrastructure, automating business processes and onboarding your partners quicker leading to new business efficiency and agility.
Finally, APIs innovate. This new way of connecting and communicating across organisations, technologies and industries across different regions of the global market creates a new digital ecosystem, a new way for revenue to flow leading to new service innovations and business models we have not yet imagined. With this new wave of service innovations driving Industry 4.0 and new emerging technologies like AI, IoT, VR AR, Robotics etc we will face paradigm shift never experienced in our human history on how we live, communicate and collaborate in this digital society we are all building together.