How transformational APIs changed the world
With Telstra Wholesale’s API program delivering automated access to a growing range of products and services, we look at how APIs have changed the world.
As Australians we spend more than 5 hours hours a day on the internet, and we use an average of 36 apps on our phones each month. These apps cover all kinds of services, from enterprise applications to scrolling through Instagram feeds.
We check the weather, book hotel rooms, watch movies, order cabs, check bus times, message our friends, upload photos and sometimes we even make phone calls. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how all these services work together for us because, most of the time, they do it seamlessly in the background.
APIs (application programming interfaces) are one of the main reasons why we can enjoy our apps and services in a relatively friction-free way.
APIs are the slickest way to connect a user with the information or service they need.
Plus they are universal, like a socket or ‘universal adaptor’ so users can ‘plug into’ systems or data. And they can share and authenticate data, too. There’s a good description in this short video.
APIs are not new. They have been around for years. In fact, they date back to the 1960s. But they have become far more important since the advent of the internet. Now they are the glue that holds services and devices together. They play a critical role in helping service providers ensure their digital experiences deliver on our expectations.
The impact of APIs extends across every sector from travel, entertainment and gaming to enterprise IT. There are many examples of companies that built major businesses on the basis of APIs. In 2006 Amazon launched storage and compute services (S3 and EC2 respectively) with APIs as the core interface. In 2009, Foursquare debuted at the SXSW festival showcasing its social ‘check in’ features. It was one of the first of a new generation of location aware, API driven applications that would supercharge the growing app economy.
As for the benefits to existing service providers from implementing APIs, some companies now generate more revenues from their API integrations than their original business model. Back in 2015 Harvard Business Review reported that Salesforce generated 50 per cent of its revenues through APIs. eBay made nearly 60 per cent and Expedia 90 per cent of revenues through their APIs.
We want to make it easier for you to access our services and the information you need so you can deliver the added-value that your customers demand.
APIs also enable third parties to create business opportunities by extending or building on the value offered by the first-party service or product. One notable example is Uber. The disruptive transport giant reportedly used existing mapping APIs for its mobile applications at launch. According to the report, these APIs reportedly enabled Uber to avoid doing its own mapping work, saving the company a lot of time and expense and helping empower its rapid growth.
Using APIs in this way - complementing a foundational service with your own creativity and expertise, and critically, automating the ensuing processes - is one of our goals for the Telstra Wholesale API program. We want to make it easier for you to access our services and the information you need so you can deliver the added-value that your customers demand.
It is easy to forget that web-based APIs have transformed the way we engage with and provide services when we use them hundreds of times a day without even realising it. Without APIs, the digital experiences we expect to use every day, and those we haven’t even thought of yet, would not be possible.