In today’s fast-paced, highly competitive technology marketplace – one where consumers have an abundance of options and instant access to relevant information – it is imperative that startups move quickly to create sustainable value for their customers.
For software-based startups, it can be difficult to move fast when resources are limited and teams are lean.
However, tech startups can move fast by leveraging APIs to integrate services or access data within their products.
This tool enables startups to benefit from the API provider’s expertise and prior development work without having to “reinvent the wheel.”
Resources of the startup can be freed to focus on the value-creation parts of the business.
This technology also allows companies to quickly adapt or pivot to the changing business environment as the startup grows.
Even non-software-focused startups can benefit from adopting an API-first approach.
Take, for example, a startup that focuses on providing customers with digital 3D printer blueprints for electrical outlets.
The startup might begin by offering the blueprints via an e-commerce platform in a specific country like the United States in this type of business.
As the company grows and scales, it may find that international expansion outside of the US becomes a business priority.
As the startup begins to design and create the digital blueprints that are customized to the electrical outlets of other countries, it’s faced with the problem of how to recommend the right product to website visitors for their specific countries.
Rather than implement a clunky user interface of having the customer scroll through multiple options or select their country manually, a more elegant solution would automatically detect the visitor’s country and recommend the product appropriately.
Though it’s certainly possible for the startup to develop IP geolocation internally, a much faster alternative would be to leverage an API that already exists and specializes in this functionality (e.g., ipstack.com or ipapi.com).
The tool would reduce the startup’s time-to-market and allow it to focus on its specialty–creating 3D printer blueprints.
It’s not only startups that can benefit from APIs. A recent TechTarget survey of more than 200 IT decision-makers found that most companies have adopted an API strategy, with nearly 55% saying they currently have some program in place.
Another report by Forrester Research showed that 50% of all CIOs use APIs as part of their digital transformation strategy.
Companies ranging from startups to established enterprises adopt open source platforms built on APIs, such as Hadoop and Node.js, to accelerate development and enhance their offerings.
Here is a closer look at how some companies are using APIs to gain a competitive edge.
Benefiting from real-time information access
A large international shipping company was facing increasing pressure from competitors and needed an effective way to serve its customers better and manage its costs.
By opening up its data through an API, the company enabled customers to integrate shipping and logistics information into their systems (including those used by their customers), giving users instant access to real-time shipment information without the need for manual entry or redundant reporting.
A financial services firm was looking to create an alternative to its aging mainframe system in a different scenario.
Through the use of an API, the company could access all of its customer data in one place, allowing for easy integration into other software. The result has been an increase in customer satisfaction and significantly lower costs for data center management.
Enhancing customer experiences and increasing monetization
A beverage manufacturer decided that implementing APIs could provide customers with a seamless shopping experience and enable them to buy more after accessing information in real-time rather than just when the company received data.
The company developed a set of APIs that allowed customers to create custom reports, gain access to up-to-date information about products and ingredients, receive automated email alerts about changes to recipes and other improvements.
The result was better overall customer experiences – customers could shop faster, answer their questions in real-time, and order new product variants with ease. In addition, the API program helped the company identify 2,000 new accounts within 90 days.
Regardless of the company’s size or industry of operations, APIs provide valuable data and services that can help identify new business opportunities, improve user experience, and improve time-to-market.
And for startups, improving time-to-market is often one of the most critical priorities.
Whether it’s weather data (weatherstack.com), exchange rate data (currencylayer.com), or even cryptocurrency data (coinlayer.com), there’s a place for APIs within any startup to help improve time-to-market.