At Microsoft’s annual Build conference this year, CEO Satya Nadella announced the company was going all in on the concept of an app-led platform. Developers saw demos such as ordering an Uber straight from your Outlook app on your iPhone based on your calendar appointments. This follows other moves we’ve seen to use APIs to create seamless workflows, like pulling Google Maps distance and traffic info to automatically create buffer time in Apple Calendar in OS X Yosemite. We’ve seen these workflows in other industries as well. Banks allow you to take a photo of a check and have it cleared in your account. The API that accepts the image of a check and “reads it” is usually provided by a third party outside of the bank that specializes in OCR technology and the information gathered is then passed to the bank’s APIs to process the deposit.
Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond calls this kind of app development — the kind that exists as part of an ecosystem rather than as self-contained apps — a “micro moment.” Hammond notes, “Instead of customers intentionally using apps a few times a day, developers need to think about how they engage customers in 5-10 second interactions many times a day. As a result, development focus shifts to favor notifications, widgets, and cross-device interactions.”
This kind of development wouldn’t be possible without an approach to integration that we call “API-led connectivity.” API-led connectivity is an approach to connecting data, applications, and systems that makes it simpler to connect apps that work together to create these seamless workflows. API-led connectivity also unlocks a company’s data assets by accessing them from any source, integrating them, and syndicating them to new applications and audiences where they can be most useful. Instead of trying to tie together multiple endpoints to one another, a single platform connects many to one and one to many.
API-led connectivity lets companies be more agile from within by connecting the data and systems they care about, and exposing them for the rapid development of applications that will move the needle on their business by enabling productivity, better collaboration, and faster business insights. API-led connectivity also lets companies share the services and capabilities they have built with third-party developers. For example, Amazon Web Services started as an internal IT imperative at Amazon in which CEO Jeff Bezos asked his engineering organization to build every component of their IT infrastructure as a service. Today, AWS is a $5.6B stand-alone business, catering to more than 180,000 developers.
The advantages that come from the free flow of data and exposing business data to third parties via APIs are numerous. Businesses are enjoying all sorts of benefits from adopting an open approach to API development, from increased revenue to increased consumer satisfaction to business transformation. In fact, says MuleSoft VP of Engineering James Donelan, “this is creating a change in the way we think about how to manage a business. With an API-led approach, companies can say good-bye to conformity and make the digital transformation they so badly need. Adopting an open approach to sharing data through digital channels will be a driving force for companies of all sizes this year.”
If you’re thinking about smart workflows, made up of micro moments, which can surprise and delight your customers, then you’re probably already contemplating an API-led connectivity strategy. MuleSoft has numerous resources to help you: take a look at our whitepaper on API-led connectivity, or our e-book on developing your API strategy. The age of open APIs isn’t a trend to jump on, it’s a major shift in the way developers build their apps and how the enterprise thinks about the customers they serve. Customers in the future are going to demand this kind of holistic thinking about workflows rather than specific tasks; businesses that approach development in this way will find themselves in an ideal position to compete and win.