What is API integration? And Why is It important?

When data can’t move freely between your apps, harmful business consequences emerge. 

Employees will have to navigate between apps just to find the data they’re looking for; they’ll have to perform double data entry constantly; and they’ll have to give up valuable time in performing business-critical tasks. 

You can address these issues head on by investing in API (application programming interface) integration. How does it help? We’ll explain, but let’s start by aligning on what the term means.

Related: What is an iPaaS? 

What is API Integration?

API integration is simply the connection of software applications through their application programming interfaces (APIs*). Once connected, these applications can request and share data between one another seamlessly, effectively eliminating any data silo at your organization.

*Since most web services use a REST API, you likely will also.

For example, say you use Salesforce as your CRM and Marketo as your marketing automation platform. Using API data integration, you can connect the systems and allow key information to flow between them. Has a sales rep updated a prospect’s status in Salesforce? Those edits can instantly be reflected in Marketo; did a prospect’s lead score change after a Marketo campaign? The corresponding Salesforce account can automatically use the new score—and so on. 

This API integration example is just the tip of the iceberg, as you can apply it to any combination of apps in your ecosystem.

Why is API Integration Important?

With this definition in mind, here are just 3 ways that API integration can make a positive impact on your business:

It saves employees time

Now that your employees can avoid moving between apps to find the data they need, they’ll save a significant amount of time that they can reallocate towards other, more important, tasks.

Your marketers can spend more time on creating content assets for a given campaign; your sales reps can focus more on building out presentations for key prospects; your colleagues in finance can ideate strategies for improving their compliance and risk management; your employees in HR can hold more important conversations with employees, etc.

It prevents human errors

No individual is immune to mistakes. If they’re tasked with updating several applications themselves, they’re bound to make errors that lead to big issues down the line. 

For instance, if someone working in Salesforce gives a prospect a higher lead score than what’s shown in Marketo (i.e. the source of truth), a sales rep can be misled into thinking that a prospect is more sales-ready than they really are. This can lead the rep to nurture that prospect in a way that comes off as aggressive—ultimately dissuading the prospect from engaging with your brand any further.

API integration lessens the number of manual tasks your employees perform, thereby lowering the chances of incidents like the one above from taking place.

It improves the employee and customer experience

With employees able to spend more of their time on tactical, thoughtful tasks, versus manual, repetitive ones, they’re more likely to enjoy their work and be more productive. This also benefits customers as, according to the Harvard Business Review, happier employees are more likely to deliver experiences that leave customers happier as well. 

Despite the many benefits that API data integration offers, it still doesn’t deliver the digital transformation your organization needs to scale. What can? Read on to find out!

Related: How SaaS integration can deliver value to your organization

The Next Step: An Enterprise Automation Platform 

As you think through all of the ways that API integration offers value to your business, you might also notice some obvious drawbacks: your colleagues still have to login to individual applications to find the data they need, and your business processes more or less function the same.

An enterprise automation (EA) platform, which uses triggers (business events) to deliver actions (business outcomes), addresses both of these drawbacks. 

It does so by allowing your team to work exclusively in the platform they’re already on (e.g. Slack, Teams), as well as build end-to-end workflow automations that can fundamentally transform any process.

Let’s use application and equipment provisioning as an example. With an enterprise automation platform, you can connect ServiceNow, Slack, and Workday, and then use an enterprise platform bot (e.g. Workbot) to build the following workflow automation:

To learn more about how your organization can use an EA platform, you can speak with one of our automation experts!

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