How APIs are shaping the new workplace

Editorial Type: Opinion Date: 2021-02-02 Views: 1,074 Tags: Networking
James Hirst, COO & Co-Founder, Tyk, explains how application programme interfaces are empowering cutting edge collaboration tools

Over the course of the past year the workplace has changed. Employees have moved from sitting primarily in an office surrounded by work colleagues, to now working from their own homes. While remote working has become more normalised and phrases such as, 'you're on mute' embedded in our lexicon, many organisations are looking at how they can better enable more seamless communication and collaboration across their teams - with the overall goal of keeping productivity high.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations across the globe have quickly moved to invest in technology solutions that provide employees with the tools to do their job remotely. Companies such as Slack and Zoom have seen their value skyrocket over the past few months, with organisations prioritising software solutions to support basic business operations.

Key to the success of implementing software into an organisation, is ensuring it brings together and integrates legacy platforms as well as provides the ability to scale as required. With many employees demanding and expecting their workplace tools to deliver the same levels of integration and connectivity that they've come to experience across their personal lives, workplace technology solutions need to be intuitive and have easy-to-use interfaces which can work across a range of platforms - often simultaneously and in real-time. And at the centre of enabling this are Application Programme Interfaces (APIs).

Simply put, APIs are the connectors between two applications, enabling them to talk to each other. It works as the messenger or intermediary between two applications. For example, a salesperson may want to search a potential prospect or customer to see the last interaction with them. They enter the customers name into their company database, which sends a request to their sales platform to provide the information. This means your company database is interacting with the separate sales platform to pull the information you require.

Collaboration tools are now ubiquitous, but generalised. For many enterprises, they have specific lines of business applications and data siloed away. The value of that data is best realised when it's accessible remotely by teams. I expect demand for more seamless integration between these and the common collaboration tools to grow rapidly.

The pandemic has meant that many organisations are having to address how they run their operations efficiently. This has meant evaluating current staff roles and adopting technology solutions that help people to work smarter, not harder. For many employees the burden of delivering everyday, time intensive admin-based tasks, such as data entry, has meant that the more strategic parts of their role get put on the backburner. Artificial Intelligence can play a key role in providing a workplace solution that can free employees time up to refocus on more high-value strategic tasks that have a bigger impact on the bottom line.

The use of AI, more than pretty much any emerging tech today, is also contentious. Ownership of the AI capability and the security and integrity of the data that flows through it will be heavily scrutinised. Putting an architecture in place that recognises this and that enables enterprises to pick, choose and change from AI APIs at will is therefore critical to ensure business value isn't locked up in proprietary vendors.

Organisations are relying on APIs more than ever to help them reach their digital transformation goals, and gain the most value out of their investment into software solutions. In 2017, Forbes contributor, Louis Columbus stated that 2017 was the year of the API economy. Now arguably APIs will come under the spotlight again this coming year, with many organisations' realising that becoming a 'digital first' company is not a preferred option but critical for survival during these uncertain times. As a result, it's likely many will move away from developing bespoke solutions from scratch and towards more efficient solutions that deliver ROI fast.

Businesses have had to rapidly adapt in order to survive this year - accelerating and reprioritising technology adoption that they had previously planned to implement in future years. Central to this technology acceleration has been developer teams, who have adapted and innovated quickly to ensure business operations continue to function. This has increased awareness of the importance of the role that developers play in the business - and over the next twelve months, the developer community will start to play an even more strategic role within the business, through implementing new processes and procedures.

With the growing need for better digital ecosystems, IT leaders will be looking towards purchasing ready-to-go applications and APIs that they can implement quickly and easily and allowing them to scale as required. NC