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Mobility strategy of the future: How APIs will change the game

In an era where people are customers and so are things, enterprises need to up their mobility strategy and APIs is the savior for the future.

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Today, connectivity is key to a successful business. And defining the success is business growth, employee productivity, and enhanced customer experience. What forms the core of the better connectivity are the Application programming interfaces.

As organizations today build on growing employee demands and driving newer experiences for customers, a strong mobility strategy becomes a top priority.

“APIs are the engine powering real-time communication between workers and business applications in the back-office to ensure workers can respond effectively to time-sensitive requirements.”

Manjunath Bhat         Research Director, Gartner

APIs connect the physical and the digital world leading to radically new business models resulting in what we refer to as the ‘API economy’. In an API economy, it’s not just people that are your customers, but things will be customers as well. Manjunath Bhat, research director, Gartner describes, “We already have printers ordering cartridges for themselves before they run out of ink –this would not have been possible without APIs.”

Conversational APIs to transform mobility

The next level of interface applications and services will have to support communication alongside web and mobile. Chatbots and other conversational interfaces have broad appeal for users due to efficiency and ease of interaction. When combined with voice as the communication interface, the productivity benefits are amplified, as users are not only mobile but also hands-free.

“Conversation is a powerful medium because it opens up the potential for users to discover new information serendipitously. With Graphical user interfaces such touch and point and click, there is a fixed input and a fixed output thus preventing the user from asking open-ended questions,” says Bhat.

He is also of the opinion that mobility will evolve going from one-touch to zero-touch interfaces by eliminating friction in the process. “Think of the implications on digital commerce if you could order regular consumables by simply talking to a virtual assistant such as Alexa,” he says.

APIs powering industry-specific apps

An API economy flourished in the first place as APIs enable what is called ‘loosely-coupled’ business systems. This allows one system to be immune to the changes made to the internal workings of another system as long as the systems communicate via public APIs. In fact, APIs are at the heart of what makes cloud services possible – be it IaaS, PaaS or SaaS solutions. Hence, it is only apt that mobile apps consume web APIs to make business and security decisions.

“APIs also provide a layer of abstraction when required – so multiple apps can re-use common functionality through a single set of APIs – saving development time and cost,” says Bhat.

Also in the era of digital business trends and collaborations, when every industry is becoming more and more collaborative and dependent on the products of each other, the API plays a significant role in that collaboration. “Mobile app design today based on software building blocks where each of it is connected via Application interfaces means this can be utilized to collaborate mobile space very effectively and quickly,” says Sayed Peerzade, CIO, Reliance Big Entertainment.

“Mobile app design today based on software building blocks where each of it is connected via Application interfaces means this can be utilized to collaborate mobile space very effectively and quickly.”

Sayed Peerzade

CIO, Reliance Big Entertainment

Elaborating with an example of a sales automation, “All brands of sale can be connected through API to build a collaborative app. And for end uses apps, integration of various services can be bundled and provided using the API’s between the apps,” says Peerzade.

Field-force automation

The workforce today is completely mobilized and organizations prioritize empowering the field force. One of the reasons APIs are table stakes in an enterprise as it enables connecting field service management applications to ERP, CRM and GIS applications.

Field workforce generally uses mobile and wearable devices that send and receive small chunks of relevant information in real-time. “APIs are the engine powering real-time communication between workers and business applications in the back-office to ensure workers can respond effectively to time-sensitive requirements,” says Bhat.

In the coming decade, API-based apps will grow significantly as it has shown to aid field-force automation, power industry-specific apps, and better customer experience. Enterprises have to up the mobility strategy to accommodate these interfaces and conversational bots to discover newer information and transition to a better digital commerce economy.