Integration, historically viewed as a necessary headache, has undergone a transformation in recent years. In creating access points for application features and data, next-generation integration focuses on turning data into critical business assets to be monetized. Integration is now an engine for growth. By using application programming interfaces (APIs) to drive innovation from the inside out, CIOs are turning it into a competitive advantage.

API growth is exploding, with more than 12,000 published to date. It’s no longer just about connecting applications, it’s about driving new business value that may be the difference between success and failure in the marketplace. Strategic integrations, and the digital engineering teams that enable them, will be more critical than ever in discovering business value.

The evolution of APIs

The idea behind APIs has been around since the beginning of computing. However, in the last ten years, they have grown significantly not only in number but also in sophistication. Indeed, APIs are now being managed like a product, built on top of a complex technical footprint that includes legacy systems. Key to participating in the API economy is the ability to transform an existing business into one where the digital platform and ecosystem thinking are the dominant mindsets. For example, think of how Uber interfaces with Google Maps to direct cars on the ride-hailing service or Expedia uses British Airways APIs to calculate discount fares. In such environments, APIs have been elevated from a development technique to a business model driver.

The apparent benefits of this digital transformation are enticing to any business that wants to participate in an opportunity that is predicted to drive billions in new products and services. Outside of high tech, a broad spectrum of industries is embracing APIs. Companies from telecommunications to banking, as well as governments, are investing millions to reap the benefits.

Democratization: the API economy at work

What we’re seeing is disruption and, in many cases, the democratization of industry. Entrenched players in financial services are exploring open banking platforms that unbundle payment, credit, investment, loyalty, and loan services to compete with new entrants such as PayPal, Billtrust, Tilt, and Amazon—all of which are riding API-driven services into the payment industry. Netflix receives more than five billion daily requests to its public APIs. Is it any wonder that the usage of the company’s services and its valuation is so high?

In this environment, APIs act like indirect digital channels that provide access to IP, assets, goods, and services previously untapped by new business models. Companies are clearly driving new revenue as consumers benefit from new products and services. New tools and disciplines for API management have evolved to help realize the full potential of the API economy.

Next-generation integration: the crucial facilitator

Within today’s digital ecosystem, business is driven by getting information to the right people at the right time. Staying competitive is less about how many applications you own or how many developers you employ. It’s about how effectively you trade on the insights and services within your company. Integration is the new business facilitator.

The next-generation integration mindset focuses less on just connecting applications than on exposing information within and beyond organizational boundaries. It’s concerned less with how IT runs and more with how the business runs to unlock vital new revenues. Next-generation integrators – like Infostretch – can help businesses unlock the business value in integration in order to thrive in this API economy. To find out how Infostretch can help realize the full benefits of APIs, get in touch using the section below.