What Is An API And Why Might You Use One?

Technology advancements have changed how businesses operate. Today, businesses are building solutions and other applications to streamline their operations and improve the experiences of their customers.

If you look at the modern enterprise environment, you will realize that it is defined by over-reliance on data, increased connectivity, and 24/7 availability. These are things that organizations cannot be successful without.

Fortunately, APIs (Applications Programming Interfaces) have come to the rescue of organizations. They have simplified software development and provided a way for applications to communicate and share information easily.

Simple Definition Of An API

An API (Applications Programming Interface) can be defined as a programming interface that dictates the communication and sharing of data between applications. They define the requests that are sent, how they are sent, and the conventions used.

In simple terms, APIs are like the middlemen that sit between different applications, setting up rules that allow the applications to communicate. Working with APIs, organizations can allow their client-side applications to access data that resides in protected databases. But how do APIs work?

How APIs Work

As discussed above, APIs allow applications to communicate with each other. Applications cannot talk directly with each other because they are not able to access each other’s code. This means that they have to rely on APIs for communication.

APIs are used to define how communication between applications takes place. Almost every other application installed on your computer relies on APIs to communicate with other applications to provide you with the information that you need.

For instance, let us assume that you have an application on your computer that needs to communicate with a database hosted somewhere. The application does not have access to the database, something that is important for database security.

The application does not need to worry about things such as storing data or even talking to the database. Instead, it just needs to make a request and let the database do its work. This is where APIs come in. They will tell the database what the application wants. The database will complete the task, and through the API, send back a response to the application.

Why Might You Use An API?

Almost every other organization is using APIs for their day-to-day operations. This means that they (APIs) are playing a crucial role. Why are organizations using them? Why might you use an API? Here are a couple of reasons;


Apart from investing in the best hardware equipment such as the best laptops, organizations also use APIs built by other organizations or rather third-party APIs. This brings a lot of efficiency to the organizations since it can reduce IT departments’ labor requirements.

These APIs handle multiple tasks at the same time while maintaining and making sure that IT systems meet their expectations. In turn, organizations can eliminate human error and have few employees working for them.


Without the use of APIs, organizations would be forced to reproduce work every time the need arises. Instead, APIs make it possible for them to create data and automatically distribute it to employees, customers, and other organizations that might need it.

This simplifies business processes and ensures that clients or users have access to the data that they need for their operations. Without this, they would be forced to deal with large amounts of data manually to extract the needed data, taking time and using a lot of resources.


This is one of the main reasons you might find yourself using APIs, especially if you are a developer. Imagine a situation where you want to develop a mobile application with different functionalities, among them a map functionality.

A few years ago, you would be forced to build everything from scratch, something that would take a lot of time. However, APIs have changed this. Instead, you can rely on an API such as the Google Maps API and implement its functionality.

You can then customize the API to match the requirements of your mobile application. This takes you less time and ensures that your app matches standards set by modern technologies. 

Extended Reach

You might also find yourself using APIs if you want to extend the reach of your business or organization. Using APIs, you will find it easy to access opportunities that you could not previously access.

For instance, an eCommerce store may want to extend its payment options to increase the reach of its customers. To do this, the store can partner with different financial institutions and get their APIs to implement different payment options.

As you can see, APIs are playing a major role in the running of businesses today. They bring a host of benefits and are streamlining operations. We are going to see continued adoption of APIs and new solutions in the next few years.

Harold Anderson
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