Common API Integration Challenges and Solutions
An application programming interface (API) is an incredibly helpful tool that helps multiple digital applications communicate with each other to optimize operational efficiency. Before reaping the many benefits of APIs, your business must integrate these solutions.
To help you achieve the smoothest and most successful integration process, we are breaking down some of the key challenges your business may face. We are also diving into some easy ways your company can side-step avoidable issues and get your API in action as soon as possible.
Learn more about the integration process and API management challenges below.
What Is API Integration?
To understand API integration, you must first understand what an API is. An application programming interface functions as a messenger between two applications. As businesses scale and implement new online tools, they can use API systems to get more out of their existing systems and devices.
Some of the common third-party applications that businesses integrate with API systems include the following:
- Third-party sellers
- Payment processors
- Inventory management solutions
- Shipping label printers
- Digital shopping carts
API integration establishes a digital channel businesses can use to connect important tools and boost productivity. It enables back-and-forth communication between the company's backend systems and numerous data sources, including:
- Mobile devices
These solutions allow businesses to automate their processes through embedding and data sharing across different systems. The API functions as a liaison between the two systems or applications, allowing them to communicate with each other without human interference or sharing via time-consuming methods such as email or fax.
How Does API Integration Work?
API integration is easier when your business partners with technology experts with experience connecting different applications. They can guide your team through each phase and establish reliable connections between your systems. The basic framework for API integration is as follows:
- Establish your use case for the integration and what problems or inefficiencies it will address.
- Identify the internal teams, tools, processes and resources required for the integration.
- Determine the relationships between each system and if you can transfer data between them without error.
- Build the integration and test it for potential inefficiencies or issues.
- Monitor the integration and its performance.
Why Is API Integration Important?
Application programming interface integration is becoming increasingly necessary. In a 2020 report, 83% of survey respondents said API integration plays a critical role in their business strategy and about 40% said digital transformation was the driving force for integration. Today, APIs are helping businesses keep up with the changing times and meet consumer demand.
Explore the key reasons why integrating API is so important for businesses:
Boosts Worker Productivity
Without proper API integration, your team will likely waste time switching between applications and systems. Having the tools they need in one streamlined platform saves them valuable time and energy.
Plus, API integration supercharges automation and helps teams reduce the hours spent manually completing tasks. Your workers can use the time they save to focus on other important job responsibilities that benefit your business's bottom line.
Reduces Manual Errors
Reducing errors is another reason why API integration is important for modern businesses. Having your team manually transfer data across different applications can be a recipe for costly mistakes. Copy and pasting is not as efficient or fool-proof as an established integration between two systems.
API integration allows for greater automation, which minimizes the need for human interference and improves data accuracy from one application to another.
Streamlines Connectivity With Customization
API integration also allows for greater customization. Building custom solutions can help your business establish the most efficient and comprehensive integration process encompassing all your essential applications and tools.
For instance, consider your accounting department. They may use various applications for invoicing customers, filing taxes and managing insurance payments. Custom API integrations can help them connect their tools in one interface to streamline daily operations.
Improves Customer Experiences
API integrations do more than simplify your team's daily operations — they also enhance customer interactions with your business. By establishing a seamless connection between different software solutions and applications, APIs help your company create a streamlined customer experience. Automation reduces errors, meaning fewer negative interactions with your business because of things like inaccurate billing or outdated account information.
Maximizes the Value of Existing Data Sources
Another reason why API integration is important is to get the most out of your business's existing data sources. If your company has old servers or databases, you can utilize an integration to access the stored data and get a greater view of your historical performance. Having access to this data can help your business inform important decision-making and maximize the value of your legacy resources.
As digital transformation continues to boom and become more prevalent, having solutions that support new technologies and tools is essential for businesses. API integration helps enterprises expand their operations and scale with ease. Adding new solutions or updating existing ones is simple with API integrations designed to evolve with your changing operational needs.
Future-Proofs Your Business
As new technologies revolutionize the digital business landscape, API integrations help companies easily meet changing demands and innovate their daily processes.
Your business can stay competitive with API integrations that keep your operations ahead of the curve and at the forefront of digital optimization. Modern enterprises can supercharge their operations with the right APIs.
Common API Integration Challenges
Along with all the amazing benefits of API integration, there are some key challenges that businesses should be aware of before getting started.
Explore the following API challenges that may arise during the integration process:
1. Security and Privacy
As more business processes go digital, the threat of cyberattacks and data breaches grows. Data security and privacy must be a priority for any company looking to implement API integrations into their operations. In 2022, the average cost of a data breach in the United States was a whopping $9.44 million. A cyberattack can be detrimental to a business's bottom line and reputation.
As bad actors become savvier and more aggressive, your business should take action to identify and remedy any vulnerabilities in your digital systems. Security protocols need constant monitoring and updating to ensure your data is safe.
Technological complexity is among the greatest integration challenges of API integration for businesses.
Integrating an application programming interface successfully requires extensive technical knowledge and an in-depth understanding of the latest digital tools. Working with an experienced developer is key to a seamless integration process. They can help simplify data formats across different systems for greater standardization and management.
Technological complexity can also pose challenges in API testing. Testing non-functional requirements, like scalability or performance, can be time-consuming and the test may not provide enough visibility into each system to identify issues quickly.
3. System Maintenance
Another key challenge for API integration is keeping up with ongoing maintenance needs. Once your business establishes a connection between two applications, the work is not done there — an IT or API professional should look at the integration from time to time and address any maintenance or upgrades required for continued operation.
Businesses must understand that their integrations will need continuous updating, especially when adding new connections. A small functional change can create a domino effect and impact the rest of your company's processes.
4. Diverse System Architectures
Every software solution and application is different. It follows that the integration process for each solution will also differ and pose its own unique challenges. If your business wants to pursue API integration with multiple platforms, you will need insight into each system and its specific logic.
As you establish new integrations, the next will not necessarily be easier than the last. Every connection is distinctive and requires a separate connection process tailored to its specific architecture. When connecting multiple solutions through API integration, you can expect to spend time and energy on each one.
5. Timeliness and Upfront Costs
Another common challenge for businesses looking for API integration is the time it takes to set up each connection. The actual timeframe will depend on the unique application and your company's existing systems. Establishing a proper integration can take weeks at a time to ensure every connection is secure and effective.
Along with timeliness, the upfront costs of API integration can be expensive. As time passes, the integration should help your business save operational costs and realize a quick return on investment. Your company's existing systems will ultimately determine how much time and money you'll spend on the entire integration process.
6. Onboarding and Employee Understanding
The final challenge of API integration is educating your team members on the new processes. Employees are sometimes reluctant to adapt to change — especially technological changes — so it is crucial to demonstrate how the integration will benefit their daily workflow and make their jobs easier. Your team may need training to familiarize themselves with the new systems and learn how to troubleshoot potential problems.
How to Avoid API Integration Issues
Your business can effectively combat many API integration challenges by integrating a few best practices. The following are tips and tactics to help your company avoid common issues and reap the most benefits from each of your integrations:
Establish Regular API Testing
By performing rigorous testing on your API integrations periodically, your business can ensure your solutions are in order and functioning as intended. Regular tests help to identify issues early and before they become larger challenges for your operation. Keeping up-to-date documentation on your API testing can help your team communicate effectively with developers to address potential problems as quickly as possible.
Prioritize Advanced Cybersecurity Practices
Cybersecurity must be a priority for your business. By using advanced authentication tools for your company's systems and applications, you can improve your defenses and keep unauthorized personnel away from sensitive data.
Encryption and token-based authentication are just some of the ways your business can protect its data from cybercriminals. Regularly audit your security measures for weaknesses in your attack surface.
Create Clear Protocols for Handling Errors
Another way your business can avoid common API integration issues is by creating clear protocols for handling errors. You can combat problems like data loss, security vulnerabilities and system instabilities by establishing how your team should address issues. Proper error management can improve the odds of mitigating the problem before it becomes a larger headache.
Establish a Uniform Data Format
Businesses might also combat common problems with API integration by sticking with a uniform format for all data. Keeping all of your data in the same form simplifies delivery, improves mapping and boosts compatibility between your API and other applications. A developer can assist your company with the proper conversions and updating practices.
Partner With an Experienced Provider
One of the best things your business can do to prepare for a successful API integration is to partner with an experienced service provider. You will want to work with an expert in the field who understands the ins and outs of modern technology and software. They will provide invaluable guidance for the integration process and help ensure your company gets the most out of your investment.
Working with an experienced provider can also help you manage technological complexities, automate repetitive tasks and implement the right cybersecurity measures to keep your business on track for growth.
Frequently Asked Questions About API Integration
Explore the following frequently asked questions about API integration:
Are There Different Types of APIs?
Yes, there are various kinds of APIs. The following includes the three basic categories:
- Private: A private or internal API connects systems within a single business and does not extend to third-party solutions.
- Public: A public API, also called an open API, gives developers from different organizations access to the software's network.
- Partner: Multiple businesses or parties can connect to a partner API to collaborate and share data.
Can Businesses Use an EDI and an API?
Yes! Electronic data interchanges (EDIs) have been around for decades, helping businesses improve quality control by standardizing documents and data. Companies can use an EDI and application programming interface in tandem to supercharge their operation. However, APIs are newer, faster and often easier to work with.
Can Businesses Perform API Integration on Their Own?
Implementing an application programming interface requires extensive technological knowledge and skills. Businesses can benefit greatly from working with a service provider that is well-versed in API integration solutions instead of attempting to connect their systems independently.
Your company can save time, money and energy by working with an experienced provider for all your API integration needs.
Turn to ConnectPointz for API Integration Solutions
With over three and a half decades of industry and technology experience, ConnectPointz is here to help you with custom-integrated solutions to enhance your daily operations.
We can help optimize your business processes with our custom API integration solutions, which allow you to seamlessly connect with other essential systems. Our platform also makes it easy to boost visibility, increase automation and scale with ease.