Web-service Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are today's unknown and unsung technology heroes. Just as they've revolutionized other industries by re-conceptualizing the end-user experience and brought us apps like Google Maps and Uber, they've already started to completely change the supply chain technology game.
APIs are the connectivity mechanism at the heart of today's on-demand applications and undoubtedly the fastest, most seamless way to retrieve data on-demand and make educated decisions in the supply chain. APIs hold the potential to be the connective tissue of the global supply chain displacing the industry's current, outdated communication system.
1. How do APIs work in relation to the global supply chain?
Currently, 90% of global supply chain members rely on a pre-internet form of communication called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to share critical data amongst partners.
EDI technology cannot remain in place any longer. TechCrunch recently reported that since 2000, 52% of the Fortune 500 have collapsed or were bumped off the list for not keeping up with the ever-changing technology landscape. More so, they reported that those who fail to evolve their technology struggle to remain competitive and profitable. Their report made it clear that API connectivity is the best way for businesses to maintain and increase their value.
2. Why is it a matter of when, not if, APIs will replace EDI technology?
Supply chain is one of the most exciting industries to be impacted by APIs because it is in dire need of change due to its almost half a century reliance on EDI, which is already being phased out. Supply chains that don't make the switch to API and choose to remain on EDI won't be able to keep up with the pace and demands of today's global commerce industry.
Only APIs have the power to scale an industry that is at risk of breaking under the pressure to manage the ebb and flow of complex and ever-changing consumer pressures.
3. What are the top misguided concerns about switching from EDI to API?
Despite most companies citing concerns about excessive resources being spent on making the switch, the integration of APIs is actually less costly and time-consuming than with EDI. EDIs require high operational costs for day-to-day maintenance, troubleshooting and translating. Whereas easy-to-deploy modern web services do not require expensive or complicated long-term maintenance.
In fact, according to a recent report, most transportation companies' biggest concerns about making the switch are due to a reluctance for change and fear of implementing new technologies. However, when the added profits and improved efficiencies are considered, most companies will surely drop their fears and be more than ready to make the change.
4. How should companies make the switch?
Once you've decided to make the switch, the next step is determining how. Although the process may seem overwhelming, there is a cost-effective, scalable, and easy-to-implement solution.
Rather than deploying a full "rip and replace," the best tactic is to buy or subscribe to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud integration platform. The benefits greatly outweigh the initial costs of leased solutions by allowing IT teams to boost efficiencies, lowering maintenance costs related to scale and positioning the business to react intelligently and quickly to changing technology strategies.
A third-party solution, will provide your business with the visibility and efficiency needed to reap the continued benefits of API connectivity.
5. Why does all of this matter?
APIs are the technology to overhauls the supply chain's communication system – sooner rather than later. The benefits and ease of switching to an API communication system are unrivaled compared to EDI. Companies who fail to make the switch to APIs simply won't be able to keep up with the growing demands of global commerce.
Has your company switched yet? What results did you achieve? Let us know your best success strategies in the comments section below.