by Christopher Rohter, VP of Marketing, Pliant
In my role here at Pliant, I get the chance to speak with a lot of prospects and customers about what’s working and what isn’t. One topic that comes up consistently is APIs and the integrations built on them.
APIs produce great upside for organizations because they make so many things possible. They’re the equivalent of universal joints for the technology world. They give customers fast, easy, and reliable ways to connect disparate applications and systems so they can work together as business solutions.
It’s true; APIs are wonderful, which is why they’re now used virtually everywhere. Whether yours is an enterprise, MSP, or government organization, some or even most of your IT and business operations are now running on processes supported by APIs and API-enabled integrations.
It is this popularity that, for customers, has slid APIs into the territory of “too much of a good thing.”
Two Flavors of the API Overload Problem
In my travels, I’ve encountered two distinct forms of what I call the API Overload problem. Both stem directly from the size and maturity of the organization.
I’ll start with the API challenges faced by young, but up-and-coming technology companies. Senior product people at these firms (which are usually SaaS companies these days), have an API dilemma. They’ve built a service that meets customers’ needs more effectively than competing offerings. As a result, the young SaaS company’s service wins customers and starts to gain real traction in the market.
With that success comes new demands from customers. Specifically, customers like the service so much, they want it to work with other key technologies and solutions they are running. So customers invariably ask, “Does your service integrate with (Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, IBM Watson solutions, ServiceNow, Salesforce, Hubspot…insert any of hundreds of vendors’ solution names here)?
Small SaaS company product managers, CTOs, CROs, and reps want to answer “Yes” to these integration questions but aren’t always able to. And therein lies their dilemma. Should they carve off part of their development team and have them focus on building out API integrations? Should they focus on the obvious candidate integrations, or focus on integrating differentiating, less popular vendor solutions demanded by customers. Either way, it will take a lot of work, and consume a lot of their developers’ time and focus. More importantly, that’s time and focus those developers won’t be spending on advancing the company’s own solutions and product roadmap.
While “No” isn’t the right answer to the API integration question, answering “Yes” could get the company into even more trouble.
Same Culprit, Different Problem
For larger, more mature companies, the API Overload problem manifests as operational overhead coupled with opportunity costs. These larger enterprises have been leveraging APIs for many years or even decades.
As a result, important business processes are strung together via custom-built API integrations that are poorly documented, if at all. Often, the person or people who wrote the integrations have long since left the company, so there’s no institutional knowledge to fall back on. Yet every time there’s an upgrade to one of the apps or systems the integration touches, the integration needs to get upgraded and tested as well.
With so many API integrations already in production, and more on the way, this is turning into a maintenance nightmare for large enterprises.
Dealing with this issue is a complex, burdensome, and thankless task for developers or IT people. That’s where the opportunity cost issue comes into play. How much innovation gets left on the table when valuable, in-house developers get saddled with this assignment? The answer is more than most companies can afford.
A Smart New Way to Eliminate API Overload
In case you missed it, we recently announced our newest offering — Pliant Embedded iPaaS (Embedded Integration Platform as a Service). It provides small SaaS companies, enterprises, government agencies, and managed service providers with instant access to pre-built integrations for hundreds of popular vendor solutions. Customers get instant access to a long roster of pre-built, ready-to-deploy integrations with a 15-day SLA for any new integrations needed.
The vendor solutions represented in our Automation Hub cover not only IT functions, but the full technology stack. For example, they include function-specific integrations for several widely deployed CRM, HR, and marketing automation systems.
For larger organizations looking for a cost-effective way to lessen their API-related maintenance burdens, Pliant Embedded iPaaS is a great solution. All integrations are documented and supported in a highly-available, secure environment and Pliant manages all changes to those integrations. For smaller organizations, Pliant Embedded iPaaS gives them an easy way to leap-frog over all the development work and immediately expand the technologies with which their offerings integrate. It’s coverage that will help them appear much bigger than they actually are.
Pliant Embedded iPaaS offers SaaS companies a great way to deal with their growing API integration needs, while also avoiding developer burnout. For more info, go to www.pliant.io/ipaas/.