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. ProgrammableWeb.com has a listing of 19,949 APIs that enable you to mix and match data sets. Data.gov 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.
RESTful API’s resources separate data from the presentation layer. That enables the data to be accessed and passed between destinations using many formats
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 (ifttt.com), which I discuss using in the post, ‘How to Digitally Play, Prototype and Profit’, and Zapier (zapier.com). 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.