APIs and integrations, the key to scalability
Any type of organization is usually shaped by multiple systems. To link these systems among themselves, integrations are necessary to perform business processes and to allow the organization to evolve in a scalable way.
In the world of technology, a player to harmonize the whole set is always needed, integrating all those different languages, allowing the multiple systems to operate fluently. We are referring to integrations, the technological intermediation that lets different systems “speak the same language”, enabling business processes. This is a key element to consider in any type of organization, especially when adding technology to enhance performance. To integrate systems, applications, and functionalities in a company is a key factor and, at the same time, a requirement when scaling up the business.
What are integrations? In a nutshell, to make two or more systems that “speak” different languages share one in common to connect among themselves. One of the most frequent cases of integrations occurs in systems whose structure is based on receiving, storing, and processing different types of data, like stocks, articles, descriptions, vendors, point of sales, collection, invoices, etc. To solve potential differences, integrations allow the system to be structured in a way that data may be successfully received and digested.
A usual case happens in the world of e-commerce. If a company develops this channel, but its sales platform has no connection with the stock management system, this may create serious operational issues because there can be no certainty regarding the existing stock of an article, just to give an example. That is why integrations bring harmony to the diversity of languages that coexist and accumulate through time in a company.
This is even more relevant in periods of accelerated digital transformation and it is when APIs make their appearance. An API is, literally, an Application Programming Interface, the name given to describe a communication method among different systems or applications.
More and more, digital platforms offer their APIs to developers, so that applications and functionality can be created in a universal language, a methodology that enables the creation of communication bridges between systems so that they can interact.
Big platforms like payment portals, e-commerce and digital services usually have their APIs publicly documented, so that they can be used by the developers’ community when creating new applications or business solutions. This is a way to promote innovation: the platform has been able to gain functionality to boost its service; the developer will have placed his or her own creation in the platform. An open and collaborative environment for innovation has been born.
When considering the current level of development of the digital ecosystem, in which a great part of the business operations generate data across multiple platforms and formats, integrations and APIs gain fundamental relevance.
This is nothing new, and many companies usually solve this matter with a middleware, a system created exclusively to “translate” data in the way that is required by the business core systems. The problem with this approach is that it is usually insufficient that the data may just be loaded into the system, but it is more and more relevant that it is reliable, structured and validated, to avoid storing “garbage” in the core system.
Unless data is consolidated, standardized, and validated in the middle of all those information flows from different systems and platforms, we run the risk of “contaminating” key data on which the operation is supported and decisions regarding the future of the company are made.
Tools like the API Connector from Conciliac EDM allow to retrieve data from different sources, so that it may be consolidated, cleansed, transformed, and validated, feeding management systems with verified and structured data.
This type of processes allows organizations to grow and leverage knowledge in a scalable and data-driven operation.