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Plugging Into the Power of APIs
Application programming interfaces (APIs) have existed for years, but given that they’re increasingly being mentioned these days in reference to UC as a service (UCaaS), communications platform as a service (CPaaS), and contact center as a service (CCaaS), I wanted to know more about them.
I turned to an acquaintance, Rob Kurver, who is the co-founder and CEO of the APIdays Amsterdam conference. He agreed to answer my API questions for this post.
How do you define APIs?
So, you hear a lot of people talk about APIs and the API economy these days, like it’s the new big thing judging from the market capitalization of some of the new platform players. Simply put, APIs are interfaces to microservices running somewhere in the cloud. Typically, when we say “API” we mean a REST API, so the interface is very similar to what we use to navigate the Web every day. You can think of an API as a website running somewhere with a very simple interface, to be used by an app instead of a human being… a website for dummies, if you will.
What’s the value of APIs?
An API makes it simple for a mobile or Web application to incorporate the functionality of another microservice. If you can show a map in your mobile app you just use an API from Google or TomTom, a location technology provider. You can use an API if you want to send an SMS or connect to WhatsApp or set up a video connection inside your application. You can use an API from a CPaaS provider. Because the API is the interface to, or the contract with, the underlying microservice, the application developer can worry about the application of said microservice rather than the implementation, greatly increasing agility and flexibility. The API provider can focus on gradually improving the quality and functionality of its services, which all users benefit from.
Where can APIs be applied for UCaaS, CPaaS…?
In a mobile-first world where technology is changing ever faster, communications APIs are enabling companies to radically change the way they interact with customers and employees. Rather than taking an existing UCaaS solution as is and trying to fit it to the business processes in the best possible way, communication APIs from a CPaaS provider allow business processes to be implemented exactly as needed. So, the technology adapts to the users instead of the other way around, leading to the optimal customer experience and satisfaction -- which today separates the winners from the losers.
What about the contact center for APIs?
A contact center is no longer voice-centric, rather voice is one of the channels for brands to communicate with customers, next to social media, email, and sometimes even fax. When we talk about voice, we no longer mean just phone and skills-based routing but also voice assistants, transcriptions combined with analytics big data, natural language processing, and bots. All are applied in ways that are specific to a brand, its customer base, and internal business processes. This is a domain where APIs and CPaaS are rapidly adopted as a way to optimize for customer experience, customer satisfaction, and brand value.
How do businesses use APIs to differentiate themselves?
Large enterprises, challenged by disrupting startups and struggling with their legacy IT infrastructure, are looking for ways to gradually change their ways of working, turning digital transformation into an ongoing change, a new mindset. The business communications leaders of tomorrow embrace change, open innovation, and new ecosystems combining UC, CPaaS, AI and voice in radically new ways. By providing such APIs (or the underlying microservices), the innovative communication service providers (including traditional carriers looking to differentiate and retain or win new customers) allow their assets to be consumed by a whole new category of users, in ways not seen or thought of before.
What training and experience are needed for APIs?
APIs are consumed by software developers, and produced by software developers. The APIdays conferences democratize and evangelize the use and the opportunity of APIs for businesses by bringing together developers and consumers of APIs, providing inspiration, learning, and training.
What is the APIdays conference series, when is the next event, and what’s on the agenda?
Since 2012, more than 15,000 people have attended 39 APIdays events in 11 countries, seeing almost 1,500 speakers. The APIdays Amsterdam event last year focused on programmable telecoms and CPaaS. APIdays Amsterdam 2019 will be held on June 18 and 19. This year’s focus is on the rise of contextual communications and the opportunities for old and new players to provide or use communications. In addition to two tracks of panels, keynotes, and presentations, we’ll run a hands-on track with a dozen workshops on API management and security and CPaaS platforms. Event details, including speakers and program, can be found here.
Who should attend?
APIdays Amsterdam will draw 600+ technology and business professionals (CTOs, CDOs, VP engineers, architects, PMs, developers) from Europe and globally to discuss how to develop and execute an API strategy, focused on communication APIs, with speakers, moderators, and analysts.