APIs are more important than ever in 2021

APIs are more important than ever in 2021

APIs aren't just for connecting clients with services. In 2021, they're for building bridges between business teams, too.

Businesses are like families. The happy ones are all alike: efficient, communicative, and operationally lean. The ones facing challenges are all facing different challenges for different reasons. For that reason, every path to 'happiness'—to efficiency, good communications, and operational leanness—must be customized to that company's own challenges.

Sometimes, as long as the job is getting done, we believe a system works. But drilling down to the granularity of who does what on the 'shop floor' reveals that there is a lot of reprocessing of data or inputting one report into another to create yet another report in order to get the data that a company actually needs. What Pegasus does is holistic. We look at the entire business flow. How do departments and divisions work with each other, and how do they use their IT function to communicate? These are high level questions that require drill down into those granular processes.

Pegasus specialises in analysing the entire business function, from factory floor to boardroom to get a full picture of a company's digital usage. We then create a plan to integrate your key applications (modern and legacy) leveraging a combination of APIs and our orchestration software to refine the process of automating your business.

APIs work by giving more direct access to data (with necessary security in place, of course). Instead of needing separate platforms to access each database, an API lets a user send a request for information directly to a database from their interface. This saves time, human and financial resources by eliminating redundant efforts. Most importantly, it helps provide new insight and faster results from the data you already generate.

That perhaps sounds a bit up in the sky somewhere, so let's look at a practical way Pegasus puts APIs to work.

Manufacturing, for example, is already generally a high-tech industry. Everything from product design and spec, mass production, sales, and shipping is done using IT. But often those tech spaces remain segregated from one another within the same business. An R&D department has their own software, a factory site has theirs, the sales team and logistics have theirs. Each division does a great job with what they've got, but getting information from one to another often requires a surprisingly slow, low tech approach.

Imagine a new gadget is designed in R&D and is ready to be offered for sale. The design software isn't equipped to take orders. The product information has to be relayed to the sales team, who then input it manually into their own product database, which is connected to the enterprise management system (EMS). This lets them show it online, and allows for some marketing automation, but it is still fundamentally reprocessing the data from R&D. They sell 100,000 units.

The sales team then has to send the order info to the factory. Perhaps there is a shared file, such as an Excel sheet, where orders are keyed in, and saved. A shared file on the server requires that no one accidentally overwrites or deletes anyone else's data. Version control is a major issue. The factory fulfills the orders and liaises with logistics by email and hopes nothing gets overlooked. Finally, the logistics team uses a combination of tablet apps and paper to track deliveries. This data is then reprocessed by an admin team for invoicing.

Each step along the way is using technology within their own operation. But at every junction where two divisions meet, there is a break in the technology, like a river cutting across a path, where the information has to get into a boat to be rowed across before it can carry on its journey. APIs act as bridges across those rivers, allowing the data to continue on its way without having to change vehicles to get to the other side.

So R&D would design a product, and an API would allow their software to populate the sales database with the product spec. Sales can then upload it to the website, where a customer would place an order, and their order would be sent automatically to a cloud database viewable by sales, finance, the factory, and logistics. Thus, everyone can prepare space in their schedule for it in advance. This data immediately feeds into the sales reports. As soon as the order is fulfilled by the factory, factory staff can tick a box on their own software, which notifies logistics. When the logistics team receives the order, an email or text message automatically sends the customer tracking information, and an action on the logistics mobile app upon delivery tells finance the job's done.

In this case, everyone gets to keep the software they had before—their legacy applications—which do the job just fine. But the APIs let these applications speak directly to each other. This imaginary manufacturing company has an enterprise resource planning programme already in place. They have an EMS and marketing automation to chase leads. They have a clear workflow. But they still had a lot of space for bespoke IT architecture to support a leaner operation.

The fact is, in 2021, customers have come to expect API development, whether they realize it or not. We all interact with APIs constantly through our internet use on computers, mobiles, and tablets. We expect instant information about when to expect the things we have ordered, and we want to be able to see what's happening at every stage. Why should we expect any different from inside our own businesses? Each department needs that operational visibility in order to do their own job efficiently. Pegasus gives you both oversight and insight.

Want to talk more about how our integration services can make your company a happy one? Contact us here. 

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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

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