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APIs: The Building Blocks of Accelerated Application Development

By Erik Linask
July 26, 2016

One of the major themes of last week’s All About the API conference was that we have only begun to see the impact APIs will have on businesses’ ability to innovate and create new partnership and revenue opportunities. This is certainly true in the communications space, where SMS, for instance, is seeing a major revival thanks to APIs from communications vendors.  A secondary theme – though intimately related – is that APIs make it much easier for businesses to tie into other services and data sources, even to the degree that so-called citizen developers – non-experts, that is – are able to leverage them to drive growth.

During his keynote, gold sponsor Nexmo’s President Tony Jamous pointed to one of the benefits of working with API platform vendors, like Nexmo, because they are enable businesses to create with these new communications building blocks, while eliminating the challenges of each business having to ensure interoperability with various carrier networks. Instead, Nexmo’s platform provides that abstraction layer and helps allay fears of performance degradation. 

On the heels of the show, we spoke with Jamous, who addressed how APIs and SDKs are driving innovation, as well as offered a brief recap of some of what you may have missed at the show last week. 

What new business opportunities are being driven by to the growth of the so-called API economy?

The existence of the API economy (communications in particular) is a major trend impacting many industries, but there are other adjacent trends that will open up big opportunities in 2017 and beyond.

The first trend is contextual technologies. This is not a new trend but, when applied to communication, can drive a novel approach to building communication apps and flows that are more contextual than before and take the user experience to a new level. Industries such as banking, retail, transportation and travel will benefit the most. To enable contextual communications in a mobile first world, APIs and SDKs will be a critical enabler.

The second trend is shadow IT. With shadow IT, digital native companies can empower developers to make more decisions that will impact the overall business. This will change the traditional way of selling communication services, particularly for carriers and large telco providers. A developer distribution model via APIs will define the winners and losers in 10 years.

The third trend is IoT. Traditional, complex industrial deployment models will be too slow and incompatible with the pressure to innovate. APIs provide the ability to drive the connection between devices and networks quickly, and at scale.

The fourth trend is the explosion of open data, be it governmental, financials, or personal data. APIs will connect the dots among various data sources to bring the value from these “mashups.”

What are the major challenges API developers face?

In communications, there are several major challenges specific to the telecom industry:

  • Disconnect between network operators and the technological trends,
  • Regulations are driven by political decisions,
  • Most of carriers’ revenues comes from consumers and data subscriptions, which does not incentive them to innovate for developers or enterprises.

APIs can fill these gaps by enabling an abstraction layer between low-level telco accessibility and performance issues and usage by a developer. Nexmo’s Adaptive Routing technology provides the intelligence to manage and sustain QoS, regardless of the underlying carrier issues. APIs and platform design can abstract regulations and keep the developer compliant without needing to adapt and change their code base. APIs protect developers from the immaturity of the market, and they can make the network programmable and change billing models to adapt to use cases, like an IoT implementation.

Who, within an organization, should businesses target when marketing their APIs (i.e., business leaders, C-Suite, developers)?

At Nexmo, we target everyone from the CTO to garage developers. That’s the beauty of our APIs – they can scale as you grow your business.

Who is responsible for security?  Is API security more challenging that securing other applications, hardware, and networks?

Because we are in communications, security and regulation are important considerations for our business. However, these issues are solved through platform-level logic to keep the developer compliant and allows us to have one code base for all countries.

Which is better, SOAP or REST?  Why?

REST – it’s a more natural fit with the fundamentals of the Web.

Why should attendees at All About the API make sure to attend your session/booth?

Nexmo took to center stage at All About the API. In my keynote on Wednesday morning, I was joined by one of our “viral app” customers, Zenly, discussing how cloud communications APIs and SDKs can enable businesses to become more agile and scale faster. We also took a look at “what’s next” in cloud communications, and what impact this will have on unified communications, CPaaS, mobility, contextual communications and more.

During our panel later in the day, I joined some of my fellow cloud communications comrades on a panel to chat about how API-based cloud communications solutions are helping solve the challenges in SMS, including deliverability, real-time analytics, and routing.

And finally, with our workshop on Tuesday, we focused on key use cases for voice, along with demonstrating how to use the Nexmo Voice REST API to architect, design and build a scalable voice application. If you didn’t get a chance to sit in on the sessions or our booth, please get in touch with us – we’re happy to get into even more detail on any of these topics.

Edited by Erik Linask

Group Editorial Director

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