APIs are changing the rules of the game. They bring speed and flexibility to small and large enterprises.
The rise of APIs combines five major forces:
#1 The API will be the billion Euro sales channel for established enterprises
APIs are evolving in the corporate world as large companies understand the value of showcasing their data links in (more or less) Open Data initiatives. This impacts sales channels- as a further form of direct sales is possible — but in this case, direct doesn’t mean that it runs through directly owned platforms. Rather other platforms are empowered to facilitate the transactions with specific corporate data. Direct booking APIs will crowd out indirect sales channels over the next few years as their integration into third party platforms proliferates. Say goodbye to the expensive indirect sales channels as APIs become the dominant omnipresent sales channels.
Case Study: Airlines
The traditional players in the airline industry, which like to refer to themselves as legacy carriers, have built a sales mechanism over the past 40 years that was probably the earliest form of e-commerce. Airline phone sales were replaced by general distribution systems such as Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport to electronically sell airline tickets via travel agencies. The airlines were happy to pay for this service as it allowed for cost savings vs. their traditional approach while enabling sales to scale globally. Today, legacy carriers often process the majority of their sales through these systems at a cost of billions of euros for the use of those channels. Booking APIs are going to be the next game changer in the industry. Major airlines are more or less openly working on this. This will make room for new forms of integrations in platforms which serve travelers and travel agencies, while significantly reducing the cost of using this sales channel.
#2 The API can increase the outreach of current marketing efforts
Banner ads have become the billboards of the web — but they often lack contextual content which can provide value to your customers. Through APIs you can power dynamic cards and banners in third party apps to surface relevant, interactive offerings based on the context of the user. But this is only one small puzzle piece in a set of outreach channels ranging from deep-links to widgets. APIs can enable third party websites, applications or conversational bots to tap into your services in order to build value add-on services for their users.
Case Study: Trip Experiences on Uber
Uber offers its customers the ability to request a ride which picks them up in minutes. Idle time during the trip is potentially interesting to event and entertainment providers (and maybe even your company). Whether it is entertainment features such as listening to music or watching videos (perhaps synced the trip time) or consuming news content, services can be offered within the contextual elements of a user’s trip. In addition, the Uber rider can benefit from additional information provided by local guidebooks or event providers to add another layer of value to the overall trip.
#3 The API facilitates a move towards seamless integrations by connecting industry players
APIs enable easily scalable data exchange across industry players. To reach your next level of customer service or efficiency gains, collaborating with other companies, small and large becomes a key business strategy. Frenemies and collabitition have become buzzwords for collaborations of those who naturally compete in order to jointly build stronger platforms and offer better customer experiences. In the traditional world, those partners were
individually managed as accounts within your legacy IT system. Through APIs you can entertain a large set of partners, from small to large, and steer them according to the impact they generate on your business.
Case Study: Transport Mobility Providers
Customers are constantly switching between different modes of transport, but today data often gets stuck in different silos which prevents a seamless experience across mobility providers. Platforms such as Moovit, Citymapper, Ally and others have risen to start connecting data across the platforms. Established players will complement their efforts by opening up data for connectivity with other mobility service providers to support a seamless mobility ecosystem.
Making way for data integration at the intersection of different mobility service providers will result in innovation:
a. Innovation for travelers as services become more consumer friendly (the efficiency play) and focus on ease of usage across different platforms.
b. Innovation for established players as more real-time data exchange allows companies to enter the next stage for process optimization and resource steering
c. Innovation for various players around new services as API interconnections enable new partnerships
#4 Open APIs are a source of technology and product innovation
Research and development is a core function in companies to lead the way to future success. As the speed of technological developments keeps accelerating and Moore’s Law enters your industry, established companies are struggling to keep up with their product innovation efforts in the technology space. Human resources for these tasks are hard to find at a time when the best qualified young entrants are seeking challenges and opportunities rather than security in their careers. Making data widely accessible will attract talent across the globe, digital nomads can build solutions for European companies from anywhere in the world. Companies can then hire people with real solutions in their suitcases. Accessible data allows for open innovation, and the company that makes data more openly accessible can steer its use through API configurations.
For the next phase of product innovation, your IT colleagues (if you still refer them as such) are likely going to be your best friend. Not only can the ecosystem outside of your company help validate your joint investments, switching towards an API-first strategy will empower you to switch gears alike.
Case Study: Hackathons and online challenges
Hackathons and increasingly online competitions have become en vogue when it comes to innovation initiatives of enterprises — to attract new talent, engage developers in the work around their data, and in taking ideas into quick prototypes. Hackathons are usually organized as 48 hour development sprints where developers engage from the local community, meet for pizza and beer and build solutions on your data. Online hackathon providers such as DevPost are enabling enterprises to scale this to a global community of innovators ready to work on quick hacks around their data. Think of it as early prototypes which are more powerful than your idea on a sticky when it comes to validating ideas and testing customer demand.
#5 The API as a new direct sales channel enables data analytics on sales and integration on other platforms
Distribution through third parties has been around for as long as distribution has existed. Traditional technology integrations have supported meta-platforms which dis-intermediate customers and service providers. APIs have the technical potential in reducing this dis-intermediation by creating a tunnel between those offering the service and those consuming the service. Even though meta-platforms will continue to play an important role, especially when they provide value through aggregation, those providing and consuming the service are more closely connected through APIs. This enables you as a service provider to learn more about your users, see impacts of product and service adjustments and better understand the true pain points of your customers. Those analytics provide you with insights on usage, conversion, and engagement around your services on other platforms.
Case Study: Cookie tracking in your browser (… really?)
Websites today are using cookies, short logs of data on user behavior on that website. This was initially build to preserve data from your last visit as you re-enter a website. Applications have gone for beyond that reaching the ability to track the next actions of your user past your page. APIs are not the next gen of those cookies. But they pick up an important element of it, a new form of user interaction based on your customer’s context, actions and preferences. API integration reaches your customer across applications and devices.
API platforms will give you the opportunity to gain deep insights into the type of interactions that are evolving on specific sales channels.
This is crucial as your decision to prioritize and eventually steer across those new sales channels will depend on more than just the revenue generated through that channel.
Dive in the details in our white paper which helps you further understand the transformative power of APIs and covers industry examples ranging from tech firms, transport and logistics, to travel and IoT!
Check out our white paper!
What is XapiX.io?
XapiX brings the world of the connected internet to your doorsteps. Our software as a service platform makes it easy for enterprises to distribute data into an ecosystem of apps and services. With growing automation the built-in intelligence in our platform will power millions of apps and services. Developers can focus on building new products instead of maintaining the status quo.