What is an API?
API is the acronym for ‘Application Programming Interface,’ which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Each time you use an app like Facebook, send an instant message, or check the weather on your phone, you’re using an API.
Think of an API library like a menu in a restaurant. The menu provides a list of dishes you can order, along with a description of each dish. When you specify what menu items you want, the restaurant’s kitchen does the work and provides you with some finished dishes. You don’t know exactly how the restaurant prepares the food, and you don’t really need to.
Similarly, an API lists a bunch of operations that developers can use, along with a description of what they do. The developer doesn’t necessarily need to know how, This allows developers to save time by taking advantage of a platform’s implementation to do the nitty-gritty work. This helps reduce the amount of code developers need to create, and also helps create more consistency across apps for the same platform. APIs can control access to hardware and software resources.
Another example is buying movie tickets online. You go to the movie site, you enter your movie, name and credit card information, and lo and behold, you print out your tickets. But what’s going on between entering your information to receiving your ticket? APIs, that’s what!
They are collaborating behind the scenes with other applications. How is this possible you ask? This type of integration is called “seamless” because you never have a clue when a software role is passed from one application to another.
Types of API
Beyond the difference between an internal, partner and open APIs, there is another approach to categorize APIs:
Why you should use API’s ?
APIs Makes Life Easier for Businesses:
Integrate with Legacy Systems: You may have existing legacy systems that are deeply embedded into your enterprise that you have already spent a lot of money, time and effort on. By making your legacy systems API-accessible, you can leverage their capabilities and use them for your new solutions. APIs allow you to hide the complexities of a legacy system and simply expose their functionality to external and internal stakeholders. Instead of using apps in silo, you have one complete system in complete sync.
Seamless User Experience: You can use APIs to make your services easily accessible on channels that your customers regularly interact with, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, chatbots, virtual reality or anything with an interface. An API management solution will make your APIs highly visible and consumable and allow your customers to access your services anywhere and at anytime. It should even allow your APIs to be accessed by external developers ensuring collaboration that contributes to the growth of your API, and makes sure that the needs of the users are quickly met.
APIs Make Life Simpler for Developers:
Maintain Data Protection & Standards: Modern APIs adhere to standards (typically HTTP and REST), that are developer-friendly, easily accessible and understood broadly. Because APIs are much more standardized, they have a much stronger discipline for security and governance, as well as monitored and managed for performance and scale which helps to protect your brand from security threats.
Let’s say you want to develop an app for an iPhone. Apple’s iOS operating system provides a large number of APIs—as every other operating system does—to make this easier on you. This applies to every platform. For example, do you want to create a dialog box on Windows? There’s an API for that. Want to support fingerprint authentication on Android? There’s an API for that, too, so you don’t have to test every different Android manufacturer’s fingerprint sensor. Developers don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over.
APIs are more like product than code: They are designed for consumption for specific audiences (e.g., mobile developers), they are documented, and they are versioned in a way that users can have certain expectations of its maintenance and lifecycle. As any other piece of productized software, the modern API has its own software development lifecycle (SDLC) of designing, testing, building, managing, and versioning. Also, modern APIs are well documented for consumption and versioning.
To summarize, when a company offers an API to their customers, it just means that they’ve built a set of dedicated URLs that return pure data responses — meaning the responses won’t contain the kind of presentational overhead that you would expect in a graphical user interface like a website.
API BUSINESS CASES
SIVVI.COM & ZIWO
Challenge: Being active on 6 countries where cash on delivery payments are common, it was essential to develop a smooth process of order confirmation, by phone, to limit product returns fees. A dedicated team would be set abroad to place those calls, raising several questions such as:
-How to set up a telephony solution w/o hardware expenses or maintenance?
-How could their back-end system interact with a CTI software?
-Could it be possible for agents to avoid using separate systems?
-How would a SIVVI supervisor be able to monitor this service remotely?
Keeping complex systems as transparent for the user as possible, Ziwo API library offered an efficient answer to keep all interactions under one system and provide a smooth workflow-for agents with functions like:Auto login, Click-to-call, Embedded Web dialer, Call reports
The API documentation made it simple and the functions were quickly integrated to SIVVI current back-end systems without any difficulty.
Benefits: With ZIWO, SIVVI executives can monitor live activity, statistics and take action on their contact center call flow from any location via a web browser.No need for expensive hardware and no maintenance team.With Ziwo, SIVVI is sure to have the right tools to scale up their operations, adding new contact centers where they require it and designing innovative services to ensure great customer service.
POLICYBEE & ZIWO
About: PolicyBee is an insurance client offering multiple life, health and career related policies for clients in MENA region. More than 1500 field sales agents in the Middle-East and Africa region (18 countries) visit individuals, private business, clinics & hospitals every day to promote their insurance policies.
Opportunity: Every policy has a limited expiration time between 1-5 years after which needs to be renewed in order to remain valid as well as to upgrade.
Implementation: Agent gets a popup whenever expiry date of an existing policy holder is approaching via setting up corresponding ziwo API module and therefore can setup automatic call backs through ziwo outbound campaign module.
Real time KPI monitoring and direct integration with the CRM system lets this process be followed seamlessly. With on the go Mobile App supervisor can keep a constant watch on the progress of the campaign and can attend to calls or enquiries which require immediate assistance.
- Server: The server is software or hardware that provides a service by responding to requests across a network.
- Web Service: Web Service is used to describe an API that is accessible over the internet through HTTP.
- API Key: An authorization code passed in to an API request via a header or parameter to identify the requester.
- Authentication: Identifying the user of the API. Common techniques for authentication include API Keys and OAuth.
- Parameter: A parameter is an argument sent to the API which helps define the request and expected response.
- Proxy: An intermediary for requests from clients and servers providing resources.
- SSL: A cryptographic protocol that secures traffic on the internet.
- GitHub: GitHub is a development platform inspired by collaboration. From open source to business, you can host and review code, manage projects, and build software alongside 36 million developers.