In the modern digitally disrupted economy, companies are constantly running a tight race with their ever-increasing competition. To stay ahead of the curve or keep up, they need to establish quick and efficient processes that improve their productivity or innovation.
Business processes have long relied on papers, physical exchange of documents, and in-person meetings that often result in lengthy or dragged-out procedures. To improve their efficiency and avoid wasting resources, organizations have turned to digital solutions that automate their business processes. Business process automation is a technology-empowered tool that automates day-to-day tasks to make business processes more cost-efficient, streamlined, and error-proof.
Traditional approaches to business process automation include implementing a business process management tool or point-to-point connections; however, technological innovations have allowed for methods that provide better integration and efficiency. Nowadays, API integration is the go-to method for business process automation.
Before diving into how you can integrate APIs to improve business process automation, we must first tackle the fundamental question - what is API integration and how can it help you run your business in a more efficient manner?
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An Application Programming Interface (API) is an intermediary that allows two or more software applications to connect or communicate. API integration automates business processes by facilitating the sharing of data between various applications and systems.
Take, for example, a sales team that uses Salesforce for their pipeline, and a finance team that tracks revenue using another application. API integration would sync the data from both applications and automate updates in both of them based on changes in either one.
Traditional vs. API Based Automation
Not all business automation processes involve an API, which is why traditional business automation processes are far less efficient than API-based solutions.
When working with an API, all parts of the integration puzzle work in unison. Operations such as accessing or syncing data from different systems run so seamlessly that it seems like you are working with a single system. On the other hand, automation processes that don’t use APIs tend to be far more limited due to their reliance on predefined instructions.
One potential issue of these limitations is accessing data sets on different systems, which will not be possible if you haven’t established connectivity between the two. You can think of the traditional point-to-point solution as a pipe that permits communication between two points only. If your company implements more applications, these connections will not be sufficient to sustain the increased traffic. As a result, the different systems will not cooperate, and you will not be able to carry out your functions as intended.
Benefits of APIs For Business Process Automation
Organizations are going digital and are growing at a rapid pace, so digitizing services and operations can bring numerous benefits to present-day companies. Some of the ways that API integration can improve your business process automation are:
Improved System Integration
If multiple teams in your company record data using different applications, then they will need an automation tool that can sync and update the data.
The same can also be true of a single team that records a variety of data. Consider, for example, the average finance team in an organization - everything from account payable, billing, taxes, and more is within their responsibilities. With API integration, they can assemble all of this information into a single connected system.
The greater the size and complexity of your company, the more applications you will likely use. According to the 2019 Annual SaaS Trends Report, organizations with 100-250 employees, on average, use 99 apps across the company, and companies with more than 1000 employees use more than 203 apps.
Better System Stability
The traditional process of automating business processes requires filling functionality gaps in predefined systems. If the system requires modifications to allow for new connections, you need to use custom code. Even if you apply these modifications, however, the need for integration is not eliminated, as any new system changes will require additional alterations.
By using APIs for system integration, you can ensure a stable system that will not produce technical gaps and new automation requirements. This will also be more cost-efficient in the long run.
Increased Efficiency and Transparency
If an organization relies on multiple limited systems for storing data, its employees will need to dedicate more of their time to accessing and utilizing the data. Another potential problem is the absence of data transparency since without a centralized system employees might be unable to access significant portions of data.
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If employees have complete and quick access to all data, they can use their time and information on other important tasks. This will boost productivity and allow for more strategic use of time and resources.
Process automation has become a necessity for any business that wants to grow or adapt to the competitive market. As automation tools are becoming more sophisticated, API integration is shaping to be the go-to option for businesses that want to automate their business processes in the most effective way possible.
Regardless of the size of your company, or the industry you’re servicing, APIs can greatly improve your business process automation by unlocking the full potential of your data and workflow.