The idea of connecting together various applications from a variety of vendors to provide additional features and functionality is nothing new. Systems integrations have long been implemented to provide business owners with enhancements to support their current features, while also enabling the addition of new features and capabilities. This emergence of the API economy forces the need for clean open application interfaces between systems which enable business growth and innovation. Cloud-based environments with open APIs that seamlessly enable 3rd party application access provide a distinct advantage for those enterprises seeking future growth and capability expansion. Interfaces with premise-based solutions can also provide expansion opportunities, but to a lesser extent than cloud solutions. Often times they require heavy deployment resources on site, which undercut a large part of the value the integration might provide. Let’s dive into the “How’s” and “Why’s” of cloud-based APIs and services to learn more.
The Nuances of APIs and Services
There are multiple examples of how companies currently leverage open APIs to expand and increase the functionality of their current systems’ portfolio. From a call center perspective, integrating with a CRM system or adding speech recognition to an IVR/Voice portal are classic examples. Software vendors are frequently willing to provide their applications as an OEM and combine their features into a partner’s solution. There is typically some amount of professional services effort often required to make it happen. This is especially true for premise-based systems, which need to be optimized for specific implementation requirements (number/type of servers, memory size, etc.). With vendors trying to optimize server footprints for the resulting integration, the cost and complexity of integration will rise. It’s obvious that deploying a solution on premise raises the bar of the integration, often generating a room full of servers nobody wants, simply to achieve an integration between systems.
What does Cloud bring to the Table?
The ever-growing realm of cloud hosting web services, along with the use of Open APIs to connect various SaaS Cloud systems, is transforming how applications are delivered and utilized by clients. No longer is there a ship to and installation at a customer site approach. Instead, the product and features are being delivered as a service, accessible via the internet. With the cloud-based delivery, the focus on resources and the required footprint diminishes for the business user and frees up IT users to focus on more crucial functions and infrastructure. This allows for an increased attention level focused on overall service performance (system reliability, API stability, and other parameters). SaaS systems with their open APIs open to door to successful integrations with a wide variety of vendors at a fraction of the cost and effort than premise solutions have been able to offer. Within the contact center industry, you need look no further than all the cloud-based CRMs that now have connections in cloud contact centers.
We are now witnessing an even more mature phase of cloud solutions integration. With the more recent advent of micro-services, customers are now able to go a step further and take advantage of enabling individual services on-demand from a cloud-based system. These micro-services allow customers to utilize a composite, on-demand service model, focused on leveraging the right level of features and functionality from a cloud service provider. No longer do you need to consider a one-size fits all, monolithic interface model. Find the feature your systems need and, with a micro-service, set up the connection and use it.
How to Benefit
Given the heavy investment in this relatively new Open API paradigm of cloud-based companies, what does it take for a contact center to benefit from their services…and what could those benefits be? With this model, SaaS vendors who embrace the vision of Open APIs and micro-services enable the ability to work in a distributed environment by providing access to a modular platform underneath their APIs. More often than not, these platforms consume internal APIs themselves and follow micro-services architecture principles, as this approach is part of their DNA. This makes the access to a 3rd party application quasi-transparent for the end-user, as the Open APIs are now mapped into the corresponding Internal APIs. That’s a long way of saying, cloud-based services with Open APIs and micro-services enable a wider range of capabilities and the ability to fine-tune which ones a business wants to use.
So, when doing due diligence for a technology refresh for your contact center, consider not only current features, but also agility, and ability to add new features quickly. New features are not only a result of organic development, they are also the result of fast partnership/integration w/ 3rd party companies. Modern cloud companies understand this new paradigm and embrace this philosophy into their architecture w/ open APIs which enable not the status quo, but the ability to innovate, optimize and grow. If you’re looking for a future proof solution, the decision path should lead you to choose a modern cloud company w/ open APIs.