How would you like to add thousands of programmers to your staff at little or no cost? Would it help your organization if you could add powerful new functions to your applications without writing them yourself? With APIs, you can! There are literally millions of functions you can access from your applications to help grow your business. And, by API enabling your applications, you can provide useful functions to others.
Medical providers, insurance companies and government agencies that must manage petabytes of unstructured data can use the Amazon S3 APIs to easily ship those documents to low cost Amazon storage. Manufacturers can use APIs to grab up-to-the-minute shipping information from their freight providers. Anyone can use the Google APIs to turn an address into latitude and longitude coordinates. Once you have those coordinates, you can call other services to get weather information, nearby business information, maps, demographic information and all kinds of other useful data.
What’s truly exciting for the IBM i community is that you can now easily call public APIs right from your RPG programs, making it possible to quickly integrate these functions into your existing applications.
A software company I worked with used the IBM Watson APIs to automatically identify which of their customers were most likely to cancel their maintenance agreements so they could proactively reach out to them.
In addition to consuming APIs, you can provide APIs to grow your business. At Eradani, we recently worked with an insurance company that is taking advantage of these bidirectional connections. They needed to consume the Google Maps API to get geolocation coordinates to generate accurate quotes through their online quoting system. They call the API directly from their RPG code. But they did not stop there. They found an opportunity to API enable that quoting system to make it available to others. This enabled them to partner with a real estate company that wanted to allow customers to get insurance quotes right from their website when they were looking at houses. Now customers can just click on a button associated with a house in which they are interested and get an instant, accurate insurance quote. They even can go on to buy a policy. By both providing and consuming APIs, this company found creative ways to grow their business while keeping development costs low.
Companies who have discovered the power of APIs are generating hundreds or even thousands of APIs. Of course, having that many APIs also creates management challenges. It’s important that you have API tools that simplify the maintenance of the APIs as things change. That’s especially important when you are exchanging structured IBM i parameter or DB2 data with open source data formats like JSON. The API system must know how to keep the two sides in sync as changes are made to the data schema. For that, you need tools that understand how data is stored on the IBM i, something not often found in many of the open source API tools.
With the number and variety of APIs available, the value you can generate for your company is only limited by your imagination and creativity.