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How the API economy is changing the business world

By Karin Kelley

July 12, 2017

We are in the midst of a technological and cultural revolution driven by cloud, mobility, SaaS, big data, social and the internet of things (IoT), and companies must re-invent themselves by creating new software-defined business models at a rapid pace or end up being left in the dust. Plus, customer expectations are higher than ever – people simply expect everything to be always-on, personalized, dynamic and highly mobile. Software, device, and system integration along with application programming interfaces (APIs) are the glue that makes it all work. 

Enter the API Economy

While APIs that allow various software applications and systems to communicate with and offer services to each other are not new and have been around for at least 20 years, the API economy is surging today. According to ProgrammableWeb, there are more than 17,000 APIs available as of the first quarter of 2017. That’s up by a whopping 758% since 2010. The uses are widespread in all industries extending beyond IT teams to all levels of the organization. One of the biggest advantages of leveraging third-party APIs is enabling business leaders that may not be too technical to work with IT to develop new and more scalable strategies while minimizing time to market with new and innovative products and services.

Communications APIs are leading the way

As we already pointed out, there are a wide variety of use cases for APIs in all aspects of a business, yet communications, both internally and externally, is an excellent example of where the API economy is already making a difference. For context, consider the number of mobile phone users today. In the U.S. alone, there will be an estimated 222.9 million smartphone users and more than two billion worldwide this year, according to Statista. The opportunity to connect those users with new and constantly improved business services through web and mobile applications and VoIP is massive. Conversely, businesses can leverage the huge amounts of data generated through third-party APIs to continuously create more competitive business services, generate new revenue streams and provide the fast and personalized communications that today’s customers and employees alike have come to expect.

Through third-party APIs, businesses can build new, customized communications features into their digital platform to give customers the flexibility they demand in many ways, including:

  • SMS. Increase customer engagement by sending messages and alerts to any messaging-enabled device and providing the capability to have two-way conversations with customers and partners. Provide the capability to reach a global audience using local numbers, and add country and regional compliance capabilities.

  • Two-factor authentication. Verify phone numbers before sharing any sensitive data and detect and block numbers used for spam or fraud.

  • Data. Identify numbers, and collect data about what type of device it is, what it’s connected to, specific location and which carrier is making the connection to determine the best and fastest way to connect.

  • VoIP.  Add software-enabled capabilities like automation and context to voice communications. Enhance live call capabilities to improve customer support, call marketing and conference calling. Integrate with existing legacy systems.

  • Social messaging. Create chat capabilities through social platforms like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Viber, and more to provide added value through better customer support, loyalty incentives and to facilitate transactions. Integrate chat with CRM systems to build individual user profiles and provide more personalized services.

Make no mistake, today’s customers are super savvy and expect instant and personalized access to services from whatever device or platform they prefer and whichever option is most convenient at any given time. Businesses that don’t step up to the challenge will essentially serve potential and existing customers to their competitors on a silver platter. By leveraging APIs, businesses can provide new capabilities at a rapid pace to meet changing demands. This is why no organization can ignore the potential of the new API economy.

Learn more about how Vonage can enable better business communications through APIs.