2021.12.23

Building Products in the API Economy

This article takes you through the evolution of the API Economy and why it’s important to build products today that are relevant in the API Economy.

Introduction

For the uninitiated, Josys, which was officially launched in September 2021 is the latest product to come out of RAKSUL’s product portfolio. Josys is a complete cloud solution for IT Device & SaaS Management which automates and simplifies IT operations to support the employee lifecycle in Enterprises.

One of Josys’s key features is providing the IT Admins of enterprises the ability to perform several User Management related operations on Enterprise softwares like visualisation of account information, account provisioning and de-provisioning. For this feature, we have integrated with the user management APIs of 40+ enterprise softwares. This phase gave me a chance to take a close look at how these enterprise softwares unlock opportunities and provide means to increase efficiency through the extensive API support that they offer.

API Economy and its evolution

API Economy pertains to business opportunities and operational efficiencies that can be unlocked and derived out of applications and services using APIs.

The API economy has grown exponentially in the last few years. In addition to improving and solving many of the operational inefficiencies that previously existed in the industry, APIs have also resulted in the emergence of many new opportunities and revenue streams for businesses. So much so that Salesforce generates more than 50% of its revenue today through APIs.

The API economy in fact has given rise to many startups and products that leverage APIs to automate workflows and to integrate various applications. The success of products like Zapier is a testament to this fact. In fact, Zapier today is a unicorn whose business model is completely reliant on APIs offered by other applications. They provide integrations and workflows across 3000+ enterprise softwares, thereby increasing efficiency and saving time for enterprises to a great extent.

On similar lines, the success of many products like Shopify is attributed to the wide range of integrations that they offer with other systems.

Industry practices in the API economy

Most modern day enterprise softwares have rich API support through which several operations can be performed on these applications on a user’s behalf. While the nature of such operations depend on the software, some common use cases (but not limited to) are:

  • Triggering an alert and sending across information in the relevant form when a certain event occurs. For example, when a query from a customer on the CRM software is received, a message to a channel on Slack can be triggered so that the customer support team is instantly notified.
  • Extracting stats and reports from multiple sources like CRM, analytics, Project Management softwares to provide a consolidated report to Product Managers.

While some of the desired integrations and workflows across applications are readily supported by existing solutions or apps, specific or customised solutions would have to be developed based on the requirements and the APIs that are on offer.

Most established modern day enterprise softwares like Google Workspace, Slack, Microsoft 365 etc. have several things in common with respect to the API support they extend such as:

  • Developers can build apps by making use of the APIs that these softwares provide. Some of these softwares even have a marketplace where these apps can be published and distributed commercially to be used by the larger community.
  • Most applications make use of protocols like Oauth2 for data access through the APIs, ensuring data privacy.
  • The APIs available are well documented and easy to understand. Some applications like Google Workspace and Slack even have an interactive dashboard for trying out the APIs, enabling even someone with limited coding knowledge to explore the APIs and identify opportunities.

How Josys takes advantage of APIs

As stated earlier, many value propositions that are offered on Josys today depend on the API support extended by various enterprise applications.

Josys being an IT asset and SaaS Management platform, having the up to date employee ledger on the platform becomes crucial for our users to perform any operation, be it asset related or SaaS management related. While the IT admins can update the employee ledger through a CSV upload or by adding employees manually on the platform, this requires manual effort and isn’t very user friendly. For this reason, we have integrations with SmartHR and Google Workspace, allowing our users to choose either of them as the employee ledger source. We make use of the APIs provided by these applications to import the employee information on a daily basis, eliminating the need for any manual intervention.

Similarly, for the SaaS management feature, we make use of the user management APIs of enterprise softwares wherein users can perform account provisioning, de-provisioning and account visualisation in bulk across multiple applications, eliminating the need for going to the admin panel of each of the applications and performing these operations individually. Some of the popular apps supported are Google Workspace, Slack, Microsoft 365, Jobcan.

As you can tell by now, APIs are the backbone of the value propositions that we offer on Josys today and are going to play a crucial role in the features we will be adding in the future.

Conclusion

As more and more Enterprises head towards Digital Transformation and automation, the API economy is going to become all the more prevalent and APIs are going to play an integral role in how enterprises would solve complex business problems.

The API economy also opens up possibilities for building products that leverage the APIs offered by other applications. Hence, it becomes important for businesses to extend their product functionalities through APIs to maintain a competitive advantage.

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Check out all the Advent Calendar articles by RAKSUL

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2021.12.23 #Products
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Building Products in the API Economy

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