The buzz around the API Economy is everywhere. What is it and what does it mean for your enterprise? Today, IT leaders are engaging in the API economy to add value to their enterprises but many of them overlook a “hidden gem” at their disposal: their ERP system.
Engaging in the API economy enables your business to both consume and expose APIs into a larger ecosystem of other businesses and technologies. That ecosystem includes pure-play API aggregators as well as other ISV-style solutions and offerings. The most critical part of the API economy is simply gaining access or sharing access to specific features and functionality.
Why join the API Economy?
Extend your system without the hassle. Motivations for being a part of the API economy are value, efficiency, speed, and innovation. Being able to easily consume APIs allows you to more efficiently extend or differentiate your system without the expense of having to build everything that your current enterprise requires. You can leverage the power of many other people exposing the functionality of their solutions.
Reduce your dependence on niche skillsets. With standards-based technology (HTTP, REST, OAuth, etc.) you can establish a core competency for consuming APIs without the overhead of having to learn something new for every point solution you wish to consume. Rather than require a staff of single-skill developers, you can employ those who are skilled in standards-based implementations.
Innovate at warp speed. Speed and innovation go hand-in-hand. Using APIs to extend and enhance your solutions means very little if you cannot do it quickly. Innovation is critical for businesses to remain differentiated and stay competitive. Adding new functionality to your implementation quickly is sometimes as critical as the new functionality itself.
Examples: Payment processing, bar code scanning, shipping cost calculators, mapping/geospatial functionality, image processing and facial recognition, integration with legacy systems, etc.
How to play?
Start with your ERP. Of course, the ability to expose or publish APIs is an important part of playing in the API economy. One doesn’t have to look very far to see that their ERP system presents an opportunity to get started. ERP-delivered APIs are assets that can start yielding benefits immediately.
ERP systems come fully baked with excellent business processes, which is the purpose of buying and implementing them in the first place. The changing API landscape is forcing businesses to look for a solution to unlock the business processes buried within their systems and publish them on a common platform. Customers are demanding these types of services, allowing them to standardize on back office business processes and maintain the purity of a single system of record.
What’s stopping you? / Is your ERP system holding you back?
Older, on-premises ERP implementations require more “middleware” in order to uplift the technology side. When they do, customers are then sometimes able to code APIs as wrappers around legacy functionality and share those APIs. The problem with this approach is that there are two development tracks: native and API, as well as additional infrastructure and architecture. Not to mention the effort required to ensure that they stay in sync. Naturally, this becomes more investment than it is worth.
API friendly out-of-the-box. Innovators in the industry are merging PaaS and SaaS and creating architectures built completely from the ground up to be open, where participating in the API economy is a fundamental part of a tightly coupled platform with applications. All system functionality, all business processes, logic and rules are exposed via standards-based technologies, so they come out-of-the-box ready to share their APIs. Even better, there is never the overhead of having to maintain two sets of interfaces. More powerful solutions do so with a set of no-code development tools which makes the barrier to entry very low.
Employ no-code for the most seamless experience. Modern no-code platforms have been created to help develop these APIs. These tools have additional control and power when compared to their older counterparts, which makes them a favorable choice for customers. Additionally, no-code platforms should also include tooling to consume other external APIs from providers outside the enterprise.
Whether considering expanding your footprint in the API economy or engaging for the first time, its critical to evaluate the tools at your disposal. Your ERP system could be the “way to play” to help you bring value to your enterprise.
About the Authors
Nick Wilson has dedicated his career to enterprise business solutions, particularly ERP systems, and understanding how business can best utilize these tools. Previously an analyst for a manufacturing and distribution company, he transitioned to EnterpriseOne consulting, managing upgrades, platform migrations, disaster recovery, high availability, integration, performance tuning and other technical solutions.
Currently, this ERP Innovation and Technology expert leads Digital Transformation projects for strategic customers at ERP-One. His goal and passion is to help turn technology into tangible benefits for his customers.
Vito is a veteran of the enterprise software industry, having worked in the business for more than 29 years. His experience began at J.D. Edwards, where he was instrumental in the design and architecture for the application development toolset. Eventually Vito become Vice President of Engineering and head of application development for J.D. Edwards.
Vito has great pride in his work and loves to develop and deliver exceptional software. He holds three software patents, bringing experience and creativity to the Nextworld team.