Despite the overwhelming volume of data all around us and an abundance of high-tech tools for data management, it still sometimes feels that finding useful information requires a lot of work. Even the most agile and responsive business systems often have to toil to find bits and pieces they need, enduring costly delays. On the other hand, front line employees and decision makers are largely left to their own devices when they have to identify strong opportunities in real time. With this in mind, data discovery remains one of the major pain points in many industries, limiting the progress of data-driven sales and marketing.
From the considerations above, it would seem like we need more powerful tools for data discovery, but the truth may be even simpler. The vast majority of businesses already have quite adequate B2B tools, but have to use them in a smarter, more coordinated manner in order to get better results. It sounds too simple to be true, but only until you take a closer look at the technology that most businesses use to perform daily operational tasks and share important data.
How can API’s provide valuable data?
APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces are software interfaces that allow business applications to share data with each other through pieces of conduit software. They are most commonly used to coordinate complex tasks that require interaction between different components of the system and exchange of data between diverse applications. During task completion, APIs can also help those platforms collect data that can be re-used in a different business context.
Every transaction that goes through the system leaves a digital trace that can be accessed through this gateway, including communication with potential customers, reports from the marketplace, etc.
API’s are typically set up to be independent from the operational system and applications, and can be customised to reflect the most urgent data discovery needs of the company. However, this needs to be done with full awareness of the value that business data can have and with sufficient technical skill to avoid having isolated data silos or pockets left in certain parts of the system.
Why is integration necessary to use this data effectively?
The most essential element of the data discovery process is having the right information in the right place, so merely collecting useful facts doesn’t meet this definition. This is where the concept of API integration comes in to play, as businesses need to ensure that all of the gathered data find its way between platforms of the business to be available to the users who need it most.
In effect, automatically collected data can become available to other software applications only if it’s properly processed, filtered, routed, formatted, and classified based on its potential value. By integrating multiple business software applications through their API’s into a coherent system, a company can gain additional effectiveness from its B2B applications without installing any new major software suites or spending a large sum on upgrades.
Implementing an integration project is a more affordable alternative to purchasing more advanced software packages, and it’s especially valuable for small and medium enterprises in highly competitive fields. Data discovery is not the only benefit afforded by API integration, although it alone provides a sufficient reason to invest some effort to get all the applications to share the data.
Examples of smart API integrations that drive business value
There are countless examples on how to use this principle in practice, most of which are broadly applicable regardless of industry. For instance, an e-mail marketing campaign may rely on the Clicksend API to handle the transactions with recipients, and by integrating this API with information gleaned from product orders it becomes possible to automatically offer updates to all existing customers. Another interesting possibility is to integrate the Uplead API with your CRM system and thus simplify the process of form filling by automating some of the fields while also eliminating errors. Even something as simple as the Weather API can be used to improve efficiency, as any reported chances can trigger the start of marketing campaigns for sunglasses in places that it's sunny.
The possibilities are nearly unlimited and depend on the range of deployed software, the nature of the industry, preferred business models and many other factors unique for every enterprise. In other words, you should integrate based on the type of data you would like to discover rather than follow some ideal model that works in every single case.
What to do to improve data discovery in your company?
If you are feeling that much of the business information you collected is being wasted, you should take immediate steps to redefine how your data is processed and stored. This process requires you to take a step back and objectively evaluate how well the company handles the information it already has and how well utilised are the existing B2B tools. Often, such analysis will reveal a lot of space for improvement through simple API integrations that target a specific outcome.