API Strategy: Which API Initiative to choose when!
With digital offers, you can extend your services portfolio and increase your revenue: Likely you own data that may bring your customers additional benefits. Provide existing and new customers valuable information via APIs – as standalone services or as extension to your core products.
Carefully select your API Strategy
By using the right API strategy, you create digital value. Depending on who should gain access to internal systems, three sorts of API initiatives can be differentiated:
- Internal API Initiatives
- Partner API Initiatives
- Public API Initiatives
Of course, there may also be mixed forms: Once an interface has been developed, it may be made available to selected internal developers or from partner companies if necessary and/or be published in a suitable manner. In all cases, you need to stay in control who is accessing your systems how.
API Strategies: Classification Scheme
|Type||Internal API initiatives||Partner API initiatives||Public API initiatives|
|Target||Connecting your own systems and apps||Connecting partners (B2B)||Publicly deploying data and features (often B2C)|
|Advantages||Agility, flexibility, process optimization, savings||Cooperation, new sales channels, business extension||New consumer services combined with other public services|
|Characteristics||Internal APIs connect existing IT systems with new applications, for example with a Cloud service, part of a web application or a mobile application. This way, enterprises can use new features and services fast and flexible together with their existing internal IT environment.||Partner APIs enable business partners to access selected data and features of internal systems in real time. This simplifies and accelerates value-added processes and opens up new business potentials.||Especially companies with high focus on B2C take advantage from public API initiatives with a wide development base and a comprehensive application ecosystem. For publicly deployed information, security control is essential.|
API Strategy example: Value add mobility services for payment card owners
Classification API Strategy: Partner/B2B
A Europe-wide mobility services provider offers diverse digital services to large hauling and fleet operators that their clients can use to optimize their processes and reduce their fleet costs. Base service is the supply of fuel and service cards for the drivers. These cards can be used for payment at fueling stations. The drivers don’t have to pay in advance or carry cash; the companies can directly manage accounting with the fueling stations, and VAT returns or electronically-paid foreign tolls are also processed automatically.
In addition, customers can subscribe to more digital services. Among others, these include a cockpit service as well as a routing and planning service. Both are GPS-based and help to make route planning, staff deployment and logistics operations more efficient and cheaper. A reporting service enhances the haulage profitability, other services take control over the management and billing of toll costs or enable controlling of billed transactions and VAT returns. Providing these digital offerings, the company differentiates itself visibly from its competitors.
API Strategy example: Shop-Integration for Omnichannel-Business
Classification API Strategy: internal
A cooperatively organized trade and service company supplies equipment and agricultural products to more than 4,500 members, among them farmers, goods associations and banks as well as regional consumers, and this company is also active in the energy trade.
As part of a new omnichannel strategy, the members should be provided with an online shop as additional means of ordering. To get this going, the selected shop system by OXID had to be connected to the SAP ERP system, delivering high performance response times.
For B2B communication with partners and supplies via EDI, the trade and services company has used SEEBURGER’s Business Integration Suite for many years. This enabled the organization to leverage their investment in SEEBURGER to deliver, shop connectivity quickly and cost-effectively by using familiar tools.
The data exchange between OXID shop and their SAP system uses the dedicated shared ERP application APIs (via IDoc/BAPI calls and SOAP web services). By means of API integration, customer, product, order and stock data can be transferred automatically and in real time – including images, pricing and conditions.
The online shop accesses the same database in SAP ERP as the EDI/B2B business – this means B2B clients, partners and suppliers are now all connected via a centralized platform to the same data, providing dependable, synchronized data access. The additional online sales channel opens more flexible order options and is able to handle even high order volumes with ease. New products appear instantly in the web shop; and the complete order processing happens electronically. The processes are now much more efficient and secure – also because customers and orders no longer have to be created manually in the SAP system.
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