API integration – the smartest way to tie your software solutions together

The volume of APIs has exploded in recent years. Why? Because APIs simplify how different applications can be integrated into next-generation IT solutions to optimise business process support and increase flexibility. Get a short overview of this new, modern integration standard.

Software integration is key when companies strive for optimised business process support through their IT solutions. Many believe that startups have an advantage because they are not burdened by legacy IT solutions which makes them more agile. However, well-established companies can gain advantages from their existing IT landscape if they apply innovative IT solutions on top of it. APIs* are the answer to this.

APIs allow two software applications to communicate via requests and responses in a predefined manner. APIs are going through continuous innovation and evolution, and especially the large cloud offerings from providers like SAP, Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon and Google are role models for how organisations can design their API-driven solutions.

The predominant business system platforms such as SAP and Microsoft Dynamics rely heavily on their eco system of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to extend functionality to companies via agile, next-generation best-of-breed business solutions. All connected via APIs.

ProMark is an example of an ISV with a best-of-breed Workforce Management solution, addressing the complexities within Time & Attendance, Absence Management, Workforce Scheduling and Task Management.

This has led to an exploding volume of APIs and a significantly increased focus on how developers and company infrastructure can manage the ever-growing number of APIs.

Two business drivers are important to highlight:

#1 Standardised, lightweight web APIs are license to play when choosing software solutions

When companies choose and architect their future integrated software solutions, they must ensure that their IT systems honour standardized and lightweight API approaches.

As many integrations occur across the internet, so-called RESTful APIs** exchanging JSON*** data are now default when new, integrated business solutions are being architected. JSON is a lightweight human readable data format and the RESTful APIs use a uniform approach – the Open Data Protocol (OData) – for requesting and responding to data.

Back in 2007, Microsoft set out to standardise how RESTful APIs could be “consumed”, thereby creating the foundation for OData. This protocol defines how developers can interact with the APIs, for example when querying and modifying data. OData has therefore become best practice within business systems seeking to standardise their API-driven solutions.

This standard allows companies to focus on architecting their solutions and making them truly interoperable instead of spending time on learning new APIs and worry about the various approaches. Therefore, adhering to standardised, lightweight web APIs is simply licence to play!

#2 APIs are crucial for best-of-breed agility

Companies have been faced with a conflict in solution architecture for many years:

Best-of-suite platformsBest-of-breed platforms
Offer a standardised solution extended with custom programming as architecture to cover all business needsOffer a specialized solution, relying on API integrations to keep each business system clean from custom programming

The biggest challenge for the best-of-suite platforms is the ability to stay agile upon system upgrades where custom programming is a growing issue. The more business rules and logic that have been programmed specifically, the more complex and costly is an upgrade.

The large business system providers seek to address this by offering app stores (such as Microsoft AppSource) containing certified, best-of-breed solutions. This enables companies to get their specific business solutions in an agile manner – without jeopardizing the promises of continuous upgrades in the new cloud solutions world.

Business systems must be API-driven – or they die

Clearly, the innovation and integration efforts in startups as well as in enterprises increasingly rely on APIs and their ability to fit into common standards to allow for speed of implementation, scalability, performance, stability and security aspects.

As business system providers modernise their offerings, they will not only need to deliver new functionality, but also continuously offer modern API options for companies to architect their next-generation business solutions across the internet and internal IT landscapes.

ProMark delivers on these promises to stay highly relevant within the complex world of Workforce Management requirements in an ever-changing world.

With its broad range of standardised API options, ProMark fits perfectly into customers’ API strategies, offering configuration options instead of costly custom development efforts. Certified integrations ensure that ProMark is a reliable extension option, adding value to existing IT landscapes in many companies – at an attractive cost of ownership. And we are continuously focusing on offering more modern integration options to improve flexibility and agility – thereby adding our part to the API explosions.


* API = Application Programming Interface: An integration method enabling different applications to exchange data
** REST = Representational State Transfer. Web APIs that adhere to the REST architectural constraints are called RESTful API
*** JSON = JavaScript Object Notation