Written by   |   Oct 29 2020   |   Read 1951 times

Modern organisations use a plethora of software tools to accomplish various functions. While these solutions accomplish different tasks, they are usually more useful when working together for a common goal.

For this reason, there must be a way for various applications to share essential digital assets in an organisation. Application Programming Interface (API) is the communication link between different software solutions.

What is an API?

An API is a set of programming code and standards that enable a seamless transmission of data between different software products. Essentially, it creates a software-to-software means of interaction, not a user interface. How applications communicate via APIs remains abstract to the user.

API as a language

The best way to understand APIs is to forget their technical part and look at them as a means of communication. They are the language two or more programs or computers talk to one another.

Imagine yourself in an eatery with a menu of delicacies. You know what you want, but the food is in the kitchen. The critical link to communicate your order and deliver the food back to the table is the waiter. You don't need to know how they talk with the kitchen staff as long as your order arrives. We can liken the waiter to an API.

Software companies develop and release their APIs to the public for other developers to create applications that can collaborate. That's why devices running on different platforms can access and deliver information from the same remote servers. Similarly, you can compare product prices in different stores on a comparison website instead of visiting one site at a time.

Importance of APIs in Small Businesses

There is a misconception that top software tools are reserved for big organisations. With today's technological advancement, all businesses have virtually the same opportunities to utilise technology.

If you operate a small business, API is one of the technologies you should exploit to give your organisation a competitive edge. Below are several ways APIs can boost the efficiency and performance of your company.

Software Integration

Application integration is the process of linking two or more software products to achieve a given task. You can leverage the power of multiple tools, enabling you to develop products that improve customer experience. Communication between the programs takes place via their API layers.

For instance, customers can use the same app to find products, compare prices, pay for them, and track their delivery. While these processes may involve more than one service providers, users don't have to switch between applications.

B2B Integration

Business-to-business integration revolves around streamlining business processes and communication between associated organisations. It enables them to collaborate and work more effectively with partners, suppliers, and clients. Data-level integration helps businesses to migrate from paperwork to digital records, while people-level integration enables partners to cooperate.

B2B integration pulls data from an internal application and transfers it to an external application across a secure data transfer and integration platform. The applications may be on-premises or cloud-based.

Easy Lead Generation

Many small business operators cannot underestimate the role social media has played towards their success. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great sources of qualified business leads.

You can share your new offering on different social media channels to entice prospective buyers right from your e-commerce site. It's the API technology that facilitates such seamless cross-platform communication.

Exploit Third-Party Apps

It's almost impossible to rely solely on your business' technological infrastructure. For instance, you might need to link your online store to various payment methods or web security solutions.

Your API enables you to take advantage of existing solutions from trusted tech giants. As a result, your customers enjoy the utility of third-party features while transacting with you. It ultimately improves their shopping experience and fosters loyalty and retention.

Automation of Laborious Tasks

Staffing constraints are common in small businesses. Fortunately, APIs can bridge the gap by connecting applications that enable the automation of time-consuming and tedious parts of your workflow.

As a result, you require much less time to accomplish tasks that used to consume several hours. Your business will achieve more with the available employees, cutting costs and improving productivity.

Faster Data Migration

Most ventures start small and grow over the years. At some point, you will want to scale up, and your needs will change. For example, acquiring a branded domain name for your business will require you to import all your business data to a new host. Having an API facilitates a smooth data migration when the need arises.

Customer Relationship Management

With the ever-growing volumes of data and communication channels, your small business needs to organise consumer information from different sources for more efficient operations. Companies are deploying customer relationship management (CRM) tools to harvest and manage customer data to deliver targeted messaging to segmented audiences.

APIs and CRM Systems

Businesses can use API to integrate other programs and applications with their CRM, even if the CRM vendor does not offer these integrations out of the box. This allows your team to access information related to the sales process, and marketing from within the CRM, without having to switch between multiple programs. 

Additionally, APIs can pull financial data into your CRM from your business accounting package, enabling you to check balances and pending transactions immediately. You can also discover new revenue streams from your business data sources.

Act! Connect and CRM Integration

Act! is a well-established CRM software program. The product prides itself on its simple but powerful CRM features that help small and midsized businesses to thrive and grow. Act! Connect, Act!'s API solution that is included in the subscription, helps you to easily integrate Act! CRM with your favourite business tools to enable your organisation to work smarter and efficiently.  Check out the full list of software applications that Act! can connect to with just a few clicks - see Act! Connections.

Get in touch with a CRM expert to learn how API solutions can work for you.

Cate Dempsey

As Marketing Manager, Cate Dempsey plans & delivers marketing campaigns & content, including regular email newsletters, promotions, blog posts, and other customer communication.

View Full Profile