In our profession API’s are extremely valuable and becoming more essential every days as our systems mature. This high-level post describes a few of the many exciting benefits.

I call API’s (application programming interfaces) ‘the secret sauce’. API’s are the software connectors that allow us to mesh  physical devices, systems and big data into a ‘sum is greater  than the part building blocks’ opportunity to identify  opportunities to create extraordinary customer value. The  only limits are our imaginations.  has a listing of 19,949 APIs that enable you to mix and  match data sets. has thousands of API’s to access  interesting government data sets. 

Google maps has one of the most popular API’s. Developers  can use it to map longitude and latitude for any asset. For  example, using it you can visually display all your buildings  or people on a map. You can even add additional visual  layers on top of a map. This can alert you to possible  weather or man-made disruptive events. I use this type of  visual benefit every day. 

When you speak with physical IoT device or software  solution providers, always ask about their roadmap to the  future. Ask how they currently integrate with other systems  and hardware components. Request use-cases of how their  current clients are creatively using their IoT products. Ask if  they offer an API or a connector to other applications.  

API’s come in a variety of flavors. The most popular is the  simple, lightweight and fast RESTful API. If you can write  excel macros or JavaScript you can handle API’s, if you  have the time and inclination. They are moderately easy to  use, especially if you use friendly tools such as Postman or  Swagger. 

RESTful API’s resources separate data from the  presentation layer. That enables the data to be accessed  and passed between destinations using many formats


including HTML, XML or JSON (JavaScript object notation).  I favor JSON for the most flexibility and control. 

Data Connectors 

Data connectors are a recent class of software enablers that  provide great value and will grow quickly as the general  population understands their value. They make using APIs  as easy as filling out a few pieces of information on a form  and snapping systems and physical devices together. It is  magic and no technical skills are required to do it. How cool  is that! 

Two of the major data connector platforms are IFTTT  (, which I discuss using in the post, ‘How to  Digitally Play, Prototype and Profit’, and Zapier (  I use them both and they have great value. 

Data connectors are far easier to implement than API’s, as  the software already embeds the API commands in pre-build  connectors. You simply pick and choose what actions you  want to occur and when.  

There may be some cases where the data connector tool  does not offer all the options you need or there may not be a  pre-built connector between the systems you are using. In  those cases, you can use the native API or build a connector  for IFTTT or Zapier and share it with other users. The IFTTT  platform also lists hundreds of public Applets other people  built that you can use and modify for your own scenarios. 

IoT devices coupled with application programming interfaces  (API’s) are the great enablers. IoT can turn an organization from mediocre into a world changing disruptor. IoT will be key to reinventing our world.  Next, we will explore amazing new technologies that you can  integrate with IoT or use standalone to create incredible  customer value externally or internally.