An Ode to APIs

The importance of data driven decisions throughout the enterprise cannot be underestimated. Understanding the data flowing through an organisation is key to providing customers with products that they will love. This has long been known and understood. In which case, why does providing access to the data stored within our business applications seem so often to be an afterthought?

Is it too much to ask to be able to query the data stored within our application landscape without having to download a CSV and rely on q? If you haven’t met q, it is, according to its website, “a command line tool that allows direct execution of SQL-like queries on CSV [files]”. As a tool to quickly calculate totals, chop and slice data and find interesting patterns it is a lifesaver, but using the command line (or worse, a spreadsheet) isn’t the way I want to get access to data.

In 2016, providing a small suite of reports, such as CSV exports which lack finer detail and graphs which cannot be customised will no longer be considered enough. More and more SMEs will be investing in data warehouses and data visualisation tools, meaning access to the underlying data becomes increasingly important. Furthermore, I can only believe that the requirement from organisations to integrate applications will become even more pressing, meaning process owners will be looking to vendors for the ability to access structured data using APIs, to call out to other applications and integration platforms using webhooks and outbound messages.

I am lucky to work with vendors who provide APIs to access the data stored within their applications. Jive give me more information in their reporting API than I know what to do with; Kissflow supports webhooks to integrate workflow processes with other applications. All it takes is a little imagination to make data flow through back office applications, support decision-making and reduce double typing.

Free your data, bring on the APIs! That’s what I say.