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APIs 101: How Automation Is Empowering Partners

The centralized, digital experience that's enabled by APIs is key to future-proofing channel businesses.

August 26, 2022

4 Min Read
Expanding Offerings
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By Paul Beacham

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Paul Beacham

In simple terms, an API (application programming interface) is a widely used piece of software that enables applications to communicate with each other. Effectively acting as gateways between two systems, APIs work in the background every time we use an app such as Facebook, Google or Uber. And, by improving the efficiency of a range of different business, they’re a vital part of a digital transformation strategy.

Think of it this way: In the same way that a waiter in a restaurant takes your order from the menu and delivers it to the chef, bringing your response back to you in the form of a meal, APIs are the interface between two systems, streamlining the process and mitigating the need for one party to deal with backend processes of the other. Just think how chaotic a restaurant would be if customers had to shout their orders directly to the chefs in the kitchen.

In the channel, the use of APIs to enable system-to-system interfaces and automation mean orders can be driven digitally from a partner’s own system. By automating the ordering process, for instance, APIs make it simpler and quicker to go from quotes to orders, to get estimated delivery lead times or for in-flight order managing.

Indeed, the range of benefits, such as cost savings in resource overhead and cycle time, means the centralised, digital experience enabled by APIs is key to future-proofing channel businesses and their customer relations.

Faster, Cheaper, Easier

As in any other industry, saving time, money, and effort is crucial to ensuring long-term, sustainable success in the channel. By allowing channel partners to connect to a provider’s systems quickly and easily, APIs offer a unique way to achieve these goals, enabling them to complete all their processes and ordering on their end, rather than needing to work on a provider’s platform.

Whether it’s ordering a new product or service, validating and qualifying a prospective customer, or booking an appointment with an engineer, the use of APIs means partners can save crucial time and resources by avoiding unnecessary issues such as manual and double-key entries. With less requirement for human effort, and with the ability to upload and publish new content and information almost immediately, APIs allow faster, cheaper and easier ordering, improving order management and in-life management by allowing customers to order directly from a partner’s own digital marketplace.

A Key Priority

Benefits such as these have seen API-led connectivity move increasingly toward mainstream adoption in recent years. According to MuleSoft’s latest Connectivity Benchmark Report, more than half of organisations said the use of APIs had enabled them to increase productivity, while the self-service approach they allowed were responsible for driving greater agility.

It’s not just efficiency benefits, either. The report found that not only had 40% of organisations experienced revenue growth as a direct result of leveraging APIs, but also that, on average, over a third of organisations’ revenue is now generated by API-related implementations. It’s perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that analyst house Omdia reveals API management to be a key priority for digital transformation strategies in the telecoms industry. (Editor’s note: Informa is the parent company of both Omdia and Channel Futures.)

And the benefits of using APIs are only going to increase. Growing movements such as the open API approach, for example, where APIs are made freely available to software developers, are set to bring in a new level of flexibility for partners, resellers and MSPs, affording them the ability to choose from an ever-increasing range of interfaces to suit their specific needs.

Range of Options

Virtually all businesses today use APIs to some extent, and the channel should be no exception. The benefits are clear, in terms of efficiency, profitability and customer relations.

A direct connection from a channel partner’s system to a vendors’ allows for a quick, easy and cost-effective self-service approach to an almost endless range of products and services. Channel partners can order from their systems — even bundling products to create a super-proposition — or their customers can order directly, saving everyone time and money.

However they’re used, APIs are key to future-proofing the channel as it undergoes a digital transformation.

Paul Beacham is senior manager, data networking portfolios, at BT Wholesale and BT Enterprise. He is responsible for leading and delivering BT Wholesale’s data connectivity portfolio strategy to create ethernet and optical portfolios in the UK wholesale market and evolve them with automation and digital self-serve capabilities such as APIs and through multiservice access and hybrid capabilities. You may follow him on LinkedIn and @BTGroup on Twitter.

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