8 Real-World Examples of Successful API Implementation
Have you ever stayed at a hotel with an excellent concierge? You’re in a new city, but you’re not sure where to start with the food, the sights, the shows or the transportation. As an expert on the city and the hotel’s services, your concierge can orchestrate all these services for you so you can find the best eats, see the best sights, get a taxi to the best show in town, get a massage, a timely wakeup call, and another taxi to the airport in the morning. A responsive and knowledgeable concierge will take the time to find out what you like so they can help you customize your itinerary to your tastes and your schedule. Without this concierge interfacing between you, the hotel and the city, you’d be stuck in your hotel room drinking whatever’s in the minibar and falling asleep watching sitcom reruns on the TV.
Agile, efficient, and well-designed APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are like the expert concierges of our modern, connected lives. They surround us from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we nod off in the evening. But beyond the concierge analogy, the best way to explain just how crucial API is for today’s businesses is with true-life examples. So, we’ve collected 8 excellent API implementation examples that will hopefully spark ideas to help you provide over-the-top products and services that will win you customer-fans for life.
Twilio is an excellent example of API maximization in its cloud communications “platform-as-a-service” model. Twilio reports that more than 50,000 companies and 2 million developers use their APIs to enable customer engagement and communications using phone, chat, SMS, 2-factor authentication, VOIP, etc, straight from the user’s app or website.
Their simple, customizable API codes help their business clients connect with customers in ways that boost effective relationship building and problem-solving. Just one of the thousands of examples of Twilio API at work is how Airbnb streamlines the connections between guests and rental hosts via automated SMS messaging.
Twilio’s success hinges on the elegant and agile simplicity of its APIs. Business-side developers like how easy it is to use and implement in a variety of situations, which is why so many different companies use it to come up with so many ways to bridge connections between their businesses and customers for a smooth, responsive experience.
You probably already use WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family, but the messaging app has implemented impressive APIs to bring businesses on board as well. Our first example, Twilio, has worked with WhatsApp to develop APIs businesses can use to connect with the messaging service’s 1.6 billion users in more than 180 nations.
The big draw for companies to use WhatsApp Business over standard SMS where possible is a more personalized “conversational commerce” experience. They link APIs on the back end to their clients' preferred CRM systems. This empowers the business to connect with the end customer on WhatsApp to answer support questions, provide quick solutions to customer needs, send a host of important notifications, and provide highly-focused, content-rich messages tailored to each customer's needs and desires.
The evidence of WhatsApp Business’ successful API implementation is that they can afford to be choosy right now in which businesses they onboard for their services. As current clients’ have watched their customer relationship engagement boom, more and more businesses are clamoring to get their piece of the WhatsApp API action.
The AccuWeather API amasses detailed, accurate weather data for literally every location on the planet, and in more than 100 languages. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, AccuWeather provides this data, for a fee, for clients to use in their apps with easy-to-implement APIs.
Currently, there are at least 300 versions of the AccuWeather API that have been customized for a quick connection to their customer’s apps. This empowers their customers to pull from AccuWeather data and provide their users with up-to-the-moment weather warnings and localized weather information that fits their needs.
AccuWeather has made a point of quick and customized responses to their customer’s needs through their API iterations. Serving up specific GPS coordinates and precise weather notifications are just a few of the things that have attracted bevies of clients to plug their API into their own systems.
4. Google Maps
Google Maps on its own is a go-to application on billions of mobile devices worldwide, but you probably know at least a few dozen other apps that use Google Maps APIs to pull customized location data, send directions and analyze all kinds of location data that can help businesses provide better services and establish streamlined connections with suppliers, customers, delivery services and more.
Business app developers would be hard-pressed to find a richer geographical data cache than what’s available through a host of Google Maps APIs. Businesses with a fleet to manage use this data to pinpoint vehicle locations and map the most efficient routes to destinations so they can save time and money on fuel and vehicle maintenance. Ridesharing apps use this data for similar reasons. Travel companies love the autocomplete address features that make it easy for their users to punch in locations for directions and alternate routes, not to mention the “places nearby” features.
Google Maps makes a host of customizable, easy-to-implement, agile APIs that businesses can use to optimize their location data and services to connect with all areas of their business. Because in the end, it’s still all about location, location, location.
In the new world where more people need to work remotely from home, Slack has become a critical virtual office that brings everyone together in the same chatroom for collaboration, discussion, and communication. Different channels provide secure meeting rooms for departments to meet, and file-sharing options, all in the cloud, keep the gang together, even when they’re working apart.
Recently, Slack created an API called Midas Touch to integrate with Salesforce, Looker, and Google Slides to help sales teams at different companies to easily request pre-populated Google Slides presentations, easily customized with customer data, all within the Slack environment. It's an incredible API power tool now available even outside of the traditional office setting.
This cloud automation solution, courtesy of the Slack API, drastically reduced embarrassing slide errors and wasted time sales teams used to spend on creating customer-focused presentations.
6. Amazon - Alexa
Amazon’s Alexa has a host of mad skills that act as your very own in-home concierge. All you have to do is ask, and the voice assistant will guide you on your way. Need a reminder about that meeting? Need to reorder baklava? Want to know what the weather is? Want to listen to the news? Watch your favorite show? Are you away from home and need to check that the lights are off or on at certain times?
Alexa’s got the Reminders API and the Smart Home Skills API for third-party developers to hook into so that users can automate a host of reminders and smart home services using simple voice commands.
Alexa’s market share is a testament to its successful APIs: more than 70 percent of households in the U.S. that use a smart speaker are using Amazon’s Alexa.
Okta is a cloud-based identity authentication system. In other words, if your company manages a ton of employees who work on the go, on multiple devices or from home, you’ll need more than just a password to ensure the security of your data. You’ll need multi-factor authentication (MFA). Okta’s APIs help enterprises manage data securely in the cloud.
Okta’s APIs can be customized to do things like give new employees personalized access to the tools they need for their job while blocking access to data and apps that aren’t in their wheelhouse. If an employee leaves the company, Okta makes it possible to immediately block access to all the systems they were previously in on.
Demand for Okta’s APIs has only increased since the beginning of the year as more and more work is being done from home, making it possible for teams to manage, analyze, and chur through data they’re authorized to handle, securely, from the comfort of their own kitchens.
Whatever people say about Facebook, the fact remains: It’s still the social networking giant of planet Earth, with at least 1.5 billion daily users and another 0.5 billion who check in on a regular basis. Also, Facebook owns and is integrally connected with Instagram. Companies that ignore these basic facts do so at their own peril.
Facebook also makes its APIs easily available to implement for company developers who want to leverage the vast treasure trove of information the social network has collected on each of its regular users. The APIs link easily with the majority of CRMs out there, giving marketers the power to churn through and analyze that data to deliver highly-targeted ads and messages to selected Facebook users.
Apply the Power of APIs
After sorting through these examples, perhaps you’ve caught the vision of what strategically applied APIs can do to boost your organization into the future. Well-executed, cleverly-orchestrated APIs are usually simple, scalable, cloud-based, and customizable. Most of all, they take user experience to a whole new echelon of convenience and satisfaction, just like your favorite concierge. The most agile, successful companies today, from startups to massive enterprises, are using APIs to compete successfully in the marketplace by providing that extra edge of customer delight. Now it’s your turn.