Application Integration and Social Distancing

Application programming interfaces (APIs) connect people, businesses and things

COVID-19 is the largest crisis in recent history, impacting us all economically, physically, socially, and politically. Everyone will play a role in helping our world achieve a new normal. As business leaders, we can celebrate the success of an adaptable supply chain, but also expose and acknowledge areas of supply chain improvement such as collaboration and agility. While we hope to never experience this again, we will take these as lessons to building a stronger, more agile, and resilient supply chain.

The ability that companies (large and small) have been able to switch manufacturing from their core business to the life-saving agents is remarkable. Car companies now producing ventilators, chemical companies making hand sanitizer, and we just watched something on how a local corn hole company is now making protective gear for doctors. This shows how quickly a business can adapt to new business models, find new sources of raw materials, and shift manufacturing and fulfillment processes. However, as consumers, we still wonder when masks, protective clothing, toilet paper, and hand sanitizers will deliver in bulk. This has exposed the greater and quicker need to integrate supply chains for the mass market. Part of this transformation is reliant on the ability to connect the whole supply chain.

But how can we integrate with stringent stay-at-home policies in place? We have created a greater need for a digital society in which the virtual world and the physical world merge. An environment where everyone and everything is connected.

As we work more and more remotely as individuals, how can our systems work together in a more efficient, faster, and less social distancing manner?

The answer is modern-day Application Programming Interfaces or APIs. Application programming interfaces (APIs) connect people, businesses, and things. They enable new digital products and business models and create new business channels. APIs make the digital business work for you.

So why should a business leader, like a CIO, care about APIs?

Connecting trading partners of your external supply chain whether they be suppliers, customers, logistics service providers is not an easy task and not a “one-size fits all” approach. B2B onboarding is often a source of frustration to business peers due to cost and complexity, but APIs provide a potential solution to your long tail of trading partners beyond what an EDI connection can provide to the “80/20” rule.

This is not simply a technology for CIOs to think of as an integration technique but instead as an advanced method to be proactive and quickly connect to broader ecosystems outside the four walls of the enterprise. In order to achieve the greatest value to the business, look at the perceived value of the applications and users that consume the APIs vs. the API itself.

As we live in a crisis mode and eventually get back to some state of new normalcy, digitalization of the supply chain and Business-to-Business-Consumer models will drive greater automation between constituents. This automation of the process, events, and alerts will only increase between man-man and machine-machine communications and every combination. APIs enable connectivity, quickly, consistently, and cost-effectively for these new communication models in a self-service model that trading partners can use to onboard themselves.

APIs provide the ability to query the real-time status of an order, product, or shipment easily throughout the Digital Supply Network ecosystem. The DSN platform supports the creation of and connection to external ecosystems, marketplaces, and communities within your overall enterprise architecture. They also support the quick connection to new supply chain fulfillment networks, originally foreign to them, in order to deliver the new products and services their manufacturing facilities are producing that were never dreamed of before for them.

The underlying need to support advanced consumer and business needs is becoming the new impetus to connect to a diverse set of applications, different types of data networks, and multiple types of unique devices. In the end, APIs provide a conduit of two-way communication between the people, processes, and technology that we are all craving to have as we manage through this crisis.