What is an API and how can it increase your business productivity?

16 May 2018
Connectivity and integration are something we very often take for granted as we’ve come to expect it and depend upon it heavily. How is it that we can compare flights, holiday deals, home insurance, shop online and have orders delivered to our doorstep or sign up to different websites via social media?

The answer is API. It works behind the scenes, accumulating data from varied sources (other APIs, databases, devices), enabling connectivity, making our life much easier as a result.

API explained – a real-life example

Integrated services are quite a common place today. Many services and development companies allow for integration with their products via an Application Programming Interface (API) or Software Development Kit (SDK). These both allow for you to safely send or retrieve data between two applications.

A good example of a simple level of integration, which will be familiar to most, is Facebook. You can integrate Facebook with different services and apps. Numerous companies allow you to use your Facebook login details to create and set up accounts on their services. 

This is all possible thanks to an API developed by the team at Facebook. What it does is very simple and very effective. By allowing you to re-use your log in details with other services, it is saving you the trouble of completing another online form, setting up another web account and replying to another email verification for basically the same data. For the businesses that have integrated Facebook, they have simplified the process for the customers and made the transaction process for new customers much easier with virtually no investment. 

API equals better customer experience

The reasons for integration in a business should always be driven by the requirement and/or the opportunity to work more effectively and efficiently as a team or to gain an advantage over your competitors. It is commonplace for businesses to use more than one application, this could be an accounts package, a customer facing solution like an ecommerce ordering system or a customer relationship tool (CRM).  These all share some common requirements like the customer details, yet many businesses will try to maintain and update both records separately without realising that integration or simplification of the process is possible, even worse they don’t realise the cost implications or risks of working in this way.

Interaction with value added services is a must 

Integration with value adding services is a must for me, there are a number of advantages to integration with third party services, the most obvious being less clutter (less applications on your desktop) and less training as you continue to work in the familiar environment of your existing solution. 

EXAMPLE: API for business intelligence 

Data services is a good example of this. If you are to invest in a service which provides you with useful business intelligence on your clients, suppliers, new business or competitors then you really should be maximising the use of this data and integrating all or parts of it, auto-populating fields that will benefit you and your team and using this data to maximum effect. Accessing this data via an account on the web limits the usefulness of the service and without integration you have the workflow issues of duplication and sharing of the data with your colleagues or other departments. It makes no sense to pay for a service and then only partially enjoy some of its potential benefits. 

Efficient use of data can also improve your revenue and increase your bottom line profitability.

Making the most of what you have and making the software, the services and their providers work smarter should be your fundamental aim – API should therefore become your best friend.   

At Vistra we offer a suite of business data products which can easily integrate with a number of applications such as accounting, enterprise, CRM Systems. Find out how we can assist with your business needs. 

Please contact Steve Blacker, Associate Director, Business Information, for further information.


Contact Steve Blacker



Phone number: 0117 918 1364

Author:  Steve Blacker