As a growing number of consumers and businesses incorporate web and mobile apps into their daily routines, businesses are discovering valuable new uses for previously isolated data sources. APIs (application programming interfaces) are the tools that allow businesses to put that data to use — by inspiring innovative developers to create new business opportunities and improve existing products, systems, and operations.

An enterprise should develop an API strategy consisting of both public and private APIs. When an enterprise business releases public APIs that power consumer-facing applications, it enables new ways to engage and connect with its customers through web, mobile, and social apps. And by developing private APIs, businesses can offer their employees and partners new tools that help them streamline operations and serve customers even better. In this dynamic environment — as more and more businesses create and incorporate APIs — it’s increasingly critical for innovative businesses to develop and execute successful API strategies.

APIs enable businesses

Connect with customers

An effective API can give existing and potential customers new reasons to interact with a business and connect with it on a personal level — and to share their experiences with others. As an example, take the hypothetical case of a national auto insurance provider. Over the years, as part of its normal business operations and planning, it has assembled and maintained comprehensive, detailed, and up-to-date data on the quality and condition of local roads all across the country. By making this previously internal data publicly accessible through an API, the company unleashes the creativity of developers and related businesses to devise new uses for the data. Developers create apps that recommend driving routes based in part on road quality. Civic groups develop apps that empower citizens to band together and petition local officials for better funding of transit infrastructure. The insurance company itself gives potential customers a way to get rate quotes — whenever they want, and from wherever they happen to be — through web and mobile apps. Simply exposing this previously isolated and hidden data through a public API has given the insurance company a powerful way to extend its reach to thousands of new customers — who now regularly connect with the company in a more personal, meaningful way. This API strategy has allowed the company the opportunity to improve customer engagement as well as creating new products and new channels that can be used in increasingly innovative ways.

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