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Ytel Talks All About the API

By Stefania Viscusi
July 06, 2016

Businesses depend on communications today to get their messaging across and to keep customers happy. Delivering effective solutions that meet today’s modern communications needs is key. Ytel is a software company that has been helping businesses with their leads, prospects and customers via improved communications.

APIs are taking over as a preferred method for developers to create new apps and as more and more services blend and mesh together.

Earlier this year, Ytel announced the launch of message360, a communications API that provides the, “infrastructure to integrate voice, text, email, and direct mail communication within any web-based application, with just a few lines of code.”

The company is a Platinum sponsor of the upcoming All About the API event happening at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from July 19-21 where it will also host a Developer Workshop for attendees and exhibit its solution at booth 507 in the exhibit hall.

To find out more about the current state of APIs and the work developers and businesses still have to do, DevsWorld chatted with Matt Grofsky, CTO at Ytel. 

Our exchange follows.

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

- Independent companies can consume various APIs on the market to build apps for their communities.

- Startups & individual developers can create new products and services.

- Fueling a brand new world of technology and innovation from a simple API.

Is there a market for APIs you would consider the low-hanging fruit?  Which markets are the next to leverage APIs extensively?

- Healthcare (HIPAA compliant), government, education, automotive

What are the major challenges API developers face?

Lack of budget, lack of resources, lack of support and time constraints.

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

In our experience, targeting developers or IT departments within a business gives an API a better chance of being understood and appreciated. While some C-level business leaders may have a tech background or general understanding, it is the IT department who will truly see the value in an API and its capabilities.

Targeting a specific audience is dependent on the functionality of the API. However, the quickest turnaround action would be to partner with customers who already exist within your market.  Also, independent developers and startups because they drive out of the box creativity and have more opportunity to explore new products on the market.

How do you measure ROI of APIs?

ROI can be measured by tracking and analytics monitored by a third party reporting tool, or the API itself. Analytics tools must provide a robust set of analytics that can relay data to enable management decisions (ROI, specifically). Creating built in metrics/ dashboard within your API that provide running statistics of relevant data and metrics.

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

Ultimately, the API stakeholder is responsible for ensuring any and all security regarding the API. API security is not necessarily more challenging than securing other types of applications or even hardware. However, security is of utmost importance because an API exposes your backend data to the world via create, read, update, destroy (CRUD) operations. If the API is not locked down, an ill-intent user can steal user data or even wipe out the entire backend. 

Which is better, SOAP or REST?  Why?

Ytel feels that REST is the better paradigm to use. REST relies on using named resources for exposing data via create, read, update, destroy (CRUD) operations, making it a better choice for understanding an API’s structure and more intuitive. Documentation for a REST API is easier to maintain and REST is flexible in allowing multiple formats other than XML. Lastly, REST is the de facto paradigm for API adoption today. When one refers to an API, the general assumption among developers is that it is architected as REST. It’s what developers expect.

How often are APIs changed or updated?  How is this accomplished while ensuring minimal disruption to users and their customers?

Time constraint:  Major changes can be done on a 6 month or 1 year level; essential updates and new features are updated quarterly. Older APIs no longer supported should have a reasonable time frame (6 months -1 year) before being marked as deprecated (no longer supported or recommended for use).

Customer communication is essential to ensure minimal disruption to users and their customers. We accomplish this through a public API status that ensures everything is working smoothly, and notifies users if there are issues.

Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial to avoiding disruption for users. This can also be done through customer emails, notifying them of system updates/ down time/ any issues.

Utilizing a social media platform that operates solely to send updates on the API is also a wise choice. For example, we use our Twitter account @MSG360Help to assist customers, send alerts and updates about the API.

What kind of standardization is still needed to drive successful mass development and adoption of APIs across verticals?

While most companies rely on their IT department to handle the adoption of APIs, we feel that the overall understanding and general knowledge of API technology and ecosystems still needs to be improved upon. This can be done through attending trade shows (like this one!) to discuss the market and see firsthand how other businesses consume APIs, as well as general research through tech blogs, use cases, white papers, etc.

The overall consumption of technology has exploded in the last decade, and from what we’ve experienced so far, we feel that as APIs gain exposure, the development and adoption will follow suit.

How important is building an ecosystem around your API(s)?  Can your API(s) be successful without it?

APIs are incredibly powerful because they can take a product or business and transform it into its own platform, through the building and maintaining of an ecosystem. Building an ecosystem will establish more relevance to an API; it can produce partnerships with other products and companies, and generate new traffic and exposure to the API. An ecosystem simply puts you on the map and allows you to reach a wider audience.

Having a large number of consumers in an API ecosystem keeps the API relevant, maintained, scalable and desirable. If there’s a lot of buzz around a certain API, the ecosystem is an organic force (through word of mouth discovery) that encourages new users to consume it.

What differentiates one ecosystem from another?

Ecosystems do not occur overnight; they evolve.  A well-formed and beneficial API attracts developers who create web and mobile apps that support the API, which in turn, creates the ecosystem. The relationship between the API and its ecosystem is dependent on each other.  Trends come and go in the developer world. As long as an ecosystem can survive past a few years and maintain momentum among the developer base, it can surpass the others. 

Edited by Alicia Young

Assignment Desk, Content Management

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