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What is an API? Building Useful and Meaningful Customer Solutions for Enterprise

As the enterprise works toward building technology solutions that solve business communications challenges for the long haul, these organizations need to start with one critical question: What is an API?

A woman answers the question
If your developers are asking the key question, "what is an API?" — it's time to learn how APIs can bridge the distance between different types of digital tools.

In a nutshell, an application program interface (API) is a set of specifications developers access when they create apps for their users to engage with. The app calls on the API to ensure that every new feature successfully exchanges data with other apps and software around the world. Essentially, the API is the developer's dictionary. It's a toolkit that helps with a lot of the heavy lifting, "translating" and managing the data that apps need to perform key tasks.

APIs help coders create new tech that communicates and works well with existing tech, opening doors for developers to align their apps with different operating systems and helping to guarantee that today's apps and software can communicate with the next big use-case that comes along.

So, how do APIs help enterprise, specifically? To understand their role in the modern organization's technology suite — and in business' approach to communications, in particular (which is a red-hot playing field for developers and APIs) — it's helpful to know what kind of experiences APIs empower developers to build. Here are a few things APIs can do for your business.

APIs provide developers with the personalized, immediate communications that enterprise users have come to expect. The dynamic business communications environments that they energize are packed with API-powered elements — and they're winning the attention of customers all over.

How Do APIs Help Enterprises Communicate?

If your developers are asking the key question, "what is an API?," it's time to learn how APIs can bridge the distance between different types of digital tools. For example, if your enterprise needs secure third-party billing, it's often APIs that allow differing devices and points-of-sale hardware to connect, converse, and agree upon how consumers' financial information is handled, from source to source. Or, you might be a retailer in search of a new, secure way to use first-party data to power your campaign strategies. APIs can help fuel personalized, increasingly contextual consumer experiences, bridging online stores with users' mobile devices. Again, these APIs will handle and parse the different ways that data is collected and used.

In the business communications space, APIs play critical roles, too. Here are a few examples:

  • Voice is still the most powerful tool in business. Nothing arms an enterprise for success quite like a human interaction that communicates the invaluable nature of a new idea. Voice APIs allow dynamic enterprise environments to bring together both cutting-edge options (such as artificial intelligence) and legacy web technologies. In its central role as translator between different kinds of tech, voice is an arena where APIs truly get to shine.
  • Chat platforms differ from user to user, but APIs connect conversations of all kinds. A chat API opens connections between platforms such as Facebook, WeChat, and other iterations, eliminating the need for a separate tool to handle each platform. Instead, users experience seamless communications across the board.
  • Text connects business leaders across continents. Not only do text APIs ensure that they can use local numbers to send messages, but they also turn the complicated process of compliance and data protection into an automated environment — which allows everyone involved to continue with their conversation. Enterprise is always on the move; text APIs keep it talking.
  • Verification means security, and every enterprise needs it. Verification APIs make it easier to guarantee that each and every phone number is checked and double-checked against unwanted access. On top of that, APIs are geography agnostic. It's their nature to translate and transition within compliance policies, worldwide. Organizations don't need a suite of software solutions when their employees travel and exchange data — they just need an API in place that does all the work.

In each of these examples, APIs provide developers with the personalized, immediate communications that enterprise users have come to expect. The dynamic business communications environments that they energize are packed with API-powered elements — and they're winning the attention of customers all over.

Bringing APIs and CPaaS All Together

It should come as no surprise: When you consider the uses and benefits of APIs, you'll find that they're increasingly powering the CPaaS space as well.

As No Jitter reports, communication platform-as-a-service vendors are increasingly providing cloud-based APIs and prepackaged plug-ins or integration modules that developers can use to embed messaging, voice, and video into their applications. Packaged with CPaaS solutions, APIs fuel differentiation in enterprise and innovation in the business-communications space — bringing everything together to give your business the most effective communication tools available.

Is your enterprise ready to explore the solutions of APIs? Connect with Vonage Business to learn more about how APIs can power your business-communications suite.

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