How APIs are influencing the adoption of digital transformation

User expectations are constantly evolving and acting as accelerators for digital transformation. There is a greater need to have interconnected applications and enhanced digital experiences. Naturally, more than 80% of IT firms find that API integration is one of the more critical elements as they move towards complete digital transformation.

Factors that make APIs critical include:

  • Internal reusability – Businesses that build API-first would have increased reusability internally.
  • Standardization – APIs would become standardized, relying on a machine-readable mechanism to stay connected with partners.
  • API as a product – APIs could become an independent product line and marketable as such.

The larger enterprises, realizing the importance of APIs and their integrations, are developing more API-based strategies to build and grow a new ecosystem connecting user experiences and digital best practices. This connected enterprise is focused on more than back-office efficiency. Instead, it applies to the entire gamut, from machines, assets, vendors, and across the supply chain space, including employee management. Enterprises having individual tools and separate business units are moving to find the bond that unites the whole, making integration fundamental to digital transformation.

Why API integration is fundamental to digital transformation

There are three reasons for an integrated enterprise – Connected customer experience, digitized business excellence, and an ecosystem-driven economy.

Connected customer experience

User expectations have gone beyond the PC or desktops. With IoT devices at large, customers are looking for applications that incorporate digital touchpoints, which means enterprises must offer an advanced 360-degree customer experience.

Digitized business excellence

It could be the beginning of customers becoming partners as business excellence relies on offering a complete digital experience. APIs are essential to opening up the back-end services and provide user interfaces and end-to-end workflow automation. This is where intuitive and integrated user interfaces come into play as they help integrate all services on the cloud and on-premises. 

Ecosystem-driven economy

Ecosystem partnerships enhance customer experiences. These partnerships grow out of complex networks of businesses across different industries and provide a seamless customer experience. Such partnerships also facilitate value-add to products and services, and the more partners, the larger the value-add. API integration is key to building an enterprise-wide digital ecosystem, and the ecosystem can be further enhanced through self-service integration with APIs.

Self-service integration with APIs

Enterprises are forging ahead with digitization and integration across all business units. This leads to an open ecosystem. A critical part of such ecosystems is the developer experience with self-service capabilities. After all, several mission-critical integration tools rely on self-service analytics tools and open interfaces. 

While the customers guide this business shift towards an open ecosystem, they are looking for a connection between the tools and external partners. What’s more, opening up the data enhances internal use as well as partner integration.

API adoption with headless styles

One of the big drivers for API adoption is creating customer experiences available on various platforms and devices. A new framework of headless styles is emerging with high expectations of building and supporting digital omnichannel experiences. The aim is to decouple the back office application logic from user experiences at the front end. 

The headless style uses integrated web APIs to communicate, making it a more adaptive model to work with multiple devices. Headless separates the user interface from the code and data that powers the UI. Headless also offers greater flexibility by delivering personalized experiences to anyone connecting with any device. It uses a component-based architecture with the ability to build isolated components. 

Security implications

According to Forbes, the API economy is the ‘next big thing.’ With the increasing number of API-based startups, there is also an increased possibility of security threats. APIs have become useful to varying development styles such as microservices architecture by opening up systems and enabling easy programmability between clients and servers. However, even as the value of web APIs is increasing, there have been multiple API security incidents in 2020.

As APIs are being used for partner integrations, they prove to be a gateway to critical data and assets of the organization. This exposure can jeopardize the business. However, there are a few ways to mitigate API threats:

  • Improve API security strategy: With increasing threats, it is becoming imperative that enterprises invest in security strategies, such as an identity-driven zero-trust system.
  • Anticipating risks: A proactive and deliberate approach must be developed with security analysis at the beginning of the development phase.
  • Full lifecycle protection: 90% of breaches occur during runtime. It makes sense to adopt API security throughout the phases of a development lifecycle. 
  • API inventory: Keeping track of the internal API library and third-party dependencies can address outdated APIs that present significant risk 
  • OWASP: A focus area should be reviewing the threat vectors posed by OWASP’s top 10 vulnerability list and developing responses to them.


APIs’ key role in digital transformation is a given, as they are foundational in new application development. They are embedded into all modern programming and may even be the core fabric of the overall enterprise. Therefore, it is critical to improve the overall API security and meet all compliance requirements even as the role of APIs expands and becomes integral to business growth.

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