API Integration: What It Is & How It Works

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Rafael Timbó
By
Rafael Timbó
|
Chief Technology Officer
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Learn about API integration and how it can help transform your business.
Published on
September 22, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

An increasing number of companies have been adopting application programming interface (API) integration to suit their business practices. However, many are yet to dive into API technology and its importance for digital operations, as understanding API requires technical knowledge. 

If you want to learn more about API and its benefits and integration, we got you covered. This article will cover the basics of an API-integrated development environment, including what it is, why it’s needed, and how it works.  

What Is API Integration?

Before diving into integration API, it's essential to understand what APIs are. APIs are a set of protocols, software tools, and definitions that allow software components to communicate and interact with web-based tools and applications. For example, APIs enable users to make application requests. The application takes the request and transfers the data to an API. Through this digital transformation, data is interpreted and returned via API so the user can understand it.

Common APIs include: 

  • REST APIs
  • Open APIs
  • GraphQL

API integration is a process allowing two or several APIs to communicate with each other and share data without the need for human interaction. It enables the creation of an automation platform of web tool systems and applications to improve data sharing and integration of applications. 

An example of API integration is the continuous data sharing between an online store and a shopping cart. Another example would be payment gateway integration, where you order through an online store and enter your credit card payment details. Once the data transfers through the verification methods, you can complete the online transaction. 

Why Are API Integrations Needed?

Aside from software development best practices, the API integration process has become more pivotal with the evolution of technology and the expansion of cloud-based software in the modern world. API integrations power processes allow companies to automate mundane tasks and seamlessly and securely transfer data between software applications. 

Automating these tasks frees up time and resources that can get allocated elsewhere. In addition, it solves many issues, allowing the automatic sharing of processes and enterprise data between applications, improving the elasticity of service delivery, and making embedding content from various websites and applications more accessible.

An API integration tool also helps with the following:

  • Easier creation of new APIs: API integration platforms make it easier and quicker to create new APIs. Without API integration, you would have to build an API from scratch or use an existing API to connect applications and systems. Building APIs from scratch is costly and time-consuming, and using existing ones can limit how your system functions. API integration systems solve these issues, enabling developers to build seamless new APIs without writing code from scratch. They also allow developers to create new product capabilities by building compatible extensions that work with your platform. 
  • Reduced revenue loss: Integration issues like communication delays and data transmission failures can negatively impact revenue. In fact, according to a study by Cleo, problems with integration caused businesses to lose 74% of revenue in 2020. The API integration can solve these issues and prevent revenue loss through improved application communication. 
  • Integration of legacy applications: Many businesses opt to stay loyal to applications they have used for years. These legacy applications are often incompatible with built-in API services. However, API integration solves this issue by enabling faster and easier custom APIs to work with legacy applications. 
  • Access to real-time data: Since API integration connects a cloud web services application to enterprise systems, you can access information and real-time data faster. For example, if your company needs a user’s real-time GPS location, you’ll be granted quicker access to where your users are. 
  • Team productivity: Teams can spend hours manually adding data from one or several APIs. API integration allows teams to bypass manual processes and automate data integration instead. This helps teams stay more productive and focus on API management. 

API Uses

APIs are commonly used throughout tech workflows and many popular apps to enable interaction and data exchange. Software systems and software platform APIs include:

  • Cloud services and various software tools (SAAS)
  • Content management systems 
  • E-commerce stores
  • Financial platforms 
  • Healthcare industries
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Social media platforms

Each system and software has its use for APIs. For example, many e-commerce stores use public APIs to connect and communicate between their platforms and backend systems, including customer relationship management and point-of-sale systems. Alternatively, social media platforms use APIs to enable developers to view the platform’s data and customize the user interface. Manufacturing companies may use APIs to track their inventory levels through Salesforce and ease business processes.

How Does API Integration Work?

API software has many uses. Below is a list of how some of them work.

Create Custom Integration Apps

API integration software allows users to create custom software instead of pre-written APIs. Custom API integration allows businesses to grow and improves efficiency and flexibility, allowing you to get more work done on your project. Custom integration apps are also easier to update, have a better learning curve, and are tweaked to include all the necessary functions. 

Connects Multiple Software Components

API integration has become the go-to software for connecting two or more software components. Before API integration, developers had to enter data between two applications. 

API integration enables automation, allowing software and applications to connect seamlessly and relay data at a quicker rate. For example, Google Docs can share information between Google Sheets, GitHub, and other applications, without developers having to input data manually. 

API Endpoints Execute the API Request

An API call or request is a request made from a server or client to the API platform. Once you make it, the request travels to an API endpoint, where it gets fulfilled.

To make an API integration test request, follow these steps: 

  • Identify the universal resource identifier (URI): The URI is where your request gets sent. 
  • Include an HTTP verb: Common verbs include GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.
  • Add a header and an API key or access token: The header informs the API of your request and the expected response. Common ones include user-agent, content-type, and accept. An API key or access token are unique identifiers that authenticate API requests.
  • Wait for the response: Waiting for a response is the final step. You’ll receive a status code to determine if your request was successful or unsuccessful. An unsuccessful status code will explain the problems encountered so you can make a fix.

Benefits of API Integration

API integration benefits businesses by creating a better customer experience and streamlining business operations. Let’s examine these benefits a little closer.

More Efficient Communication

API improves communication between applications and software. It streamlines data sharing, enhances collaboration, increases automation, and gives a better customer experience. It also improves communication between developers and users, giving developers tools for building data access and functionality between applications. 

Easier to Monitor

API integration allows all systems and applications to connect through a single platform. With it, you can transfer data between two or more platforms and assemble information on all your company’s software on a single platform, enabling easy readability and follow-up. Having all your company’s applications on one platform can help you maintain and oversee your systems. 

API integration also allows connectivity between various customer relationship management platforms, enabling you to monitor customer relations. 

Improves Data Accuracy

Traditional methods of manually entering data between two or more systems can increase the chances of errors, such as inputting wrong information or adding the correct data to the wrong place. Since API integration automates data sharing, there’s no chance of human error, and data accuracy is improved. 

More Cost-Effective

API integration is an inexpensive solution compared to the traditional method of building and coding applications from scratch, especially considering the development cost. API integrations allow developers to create new applications without building them from the ground up. Not only is this a cost-effective solution, but it also helps you allocate time and resources to other tasks. 

Additionally, API integration creates new revenue streams by expanding and integrating payment APIs and other similar business models. 

Hire API Experts With Revelo

Now that you know the basics and the importance of API integration, consider whether you have the right talent to help you. Your API integration can be much easier with the proper support, so ensure you hire the best people for the job.

If you’re searching for a new software developer to add to your team of software gurus, Revelo can help. Revelo is a talent marketplace designed to introduce businesses to top tech talent. We gather and pre-vet Latin American workers to help companies grow their skilled and diverse workforces. 

With Revelo, hiring becomes simple and quick. We pre-select candidates based on your needs and provide expert support throughout the negotiation, onboarding, benefits, local compliance, and more. As we handle the mundane tasks of hiring and employment, you can focus on what truly matters: growing a successful business. 

Contact Revelo to start scaling your development team today. 

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