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It’s no secret that APIs are at the heart of an organization’s Digital Expansion plan. Most organizations are working on building solutions that connect their customers to their business via multiple channels like Web, Mobile, Chat, Kiosk, Voice, and several other upcoming channels. There is this constant desire to be present where the customer’s attention is. And rightly so, since the attention span is shortening and choices are exploding. All this is not possible without APIs.
Almost all big or medium organizations have APIs. Either they are using a homegrown solution or very seldom with one of several API management solutions out there. So, how important are APIs going forward?
The future of digital marketing is collaboration. Ability to cross-sell, upsell, co-sell products across channels & providing correct attribution along with process automation. Such a collaborative marketing process has a high dependency on API efficacy.
Your APIs are a window for the outside world to interact with your business. If not designed right, they can cause constant struggle of maintenance, upkeep, change management, & above all, security.
The problem with today’s APIs is that they are not standardized.
The only parts of APIs that now developers adhere to consistently is
- Having a unique endpoint (RESTful)
- JSON based request/response formats
And that’s about it. There is a lot more to APIs then having a URL that does some data exchange and sometimes using basic authentication methods.
More Importantly, API today is where “content” was around ten years ago. Everyone had some way of putting content out there until the notion of a unified experience developed, and the world started moving to content management systems that offered more than just adding content and making it live.
APIs are also making an outward journey, from being developed, designed, and controlled by Developers to giving most controls away in the hands of MarTech guys.
In the world where collaboration holds the key to growth, it isn’t enough to invest in another tool for developers to expose API
Apart from being consistent, fast & reliable; APIs now have to be controllable. Like in case of the recent pandemic if an NBFC business team desires to generate data of all customers that are impacted by the financial crunch, a typical workflow would involve making a page using CMS, adding a form to it and then have the ability to submit the form to a backend. Finally, if that data is going to be used for a marketing campaign via SMS, email, or call centre, then it has to be routed to the corresponding channels. How about making this happen without involving development & deployment. A Martech team member can create a data place holder and export selected fields to outbound channels.
Some other use-cases that the Martech team should be able to control are the ability to combine offerings without having to change the core system, to park and forward information.
Ability to manage complex and voluminous master data (like List of Branches or Product Types) in one place that can be edited and updated from a single system that can publish it to all channels or build workflows that can allow collecting data and then validating it or allowing customers to track it. Like in the case of Testimonials or Customer Grievances, where the system automatically generates a tracking number.
Modern Day API tools should allow the MarTech teams to choose the fields to export while sharing a data set with some other channel or group. For example, When a lead is collected, the team can choose not to disclose the mobile number forward to avoid misuse.
Everything I knew about writing useful APIs was put to the test during the last two years of building APIs. We realized that the team that controls most parts of the data has to undergo a steep learning curve or has to rely on developers for all changes. I realized that an API management system has to be closer to the CMS than to the traditional systems.
In conclusion, I think API is going to mean business, and hence the team that handles it should have a lot more power than what it has now. Martech teams, Business teams are slated to become critical players in the API World
Contributed by Yash Mody, Chief Technology Officer, Tekno Point Multimedia India Pvt. Ltd.