As we move towards an ever increasing connected and digital world, the workforce has become more and more dependent on technology to manage, communicate, and produce work. With that in mind, is your agency utilizing technology such as APIs to improve your agency tech experience?
In our Future of the Workplace series, Owain Harris Software Developer at Tangram, looks at the importance of integration and APIs for business software and what may be around the corner.
In the beginning
In the ’90s and ’00s, as the digital world was transitioning from GeoCities to MySpace and Facebook, we mainly relied on single-use applications, usually running on expensive on-premise servers by an even more expensive team of Systems Engineers and Administrators.
Luckily the dreaded words “Try turning it off and on again” (which often actually did the trick…) and “did my attachment come through” (I’m looking at you, Nigel in accounts!) are things with which Gen Z and beyond no longer must deal.
Work from home and the great migration
Super-fast broadband, 5G, and globally distributed cloud service providers keep our applications online and chugging along. They help the workforce communicate and collaborate on projects every day, both internally and with clients.
Given the climate of the past two years, some ‘tech savvy’ organizations have already adopted and utilized these technologies. They didn’t feel the brunt of giving up the commute and office life as much as their ‘store it all in a spreadsheet on the file server’ counterparts.
While ‘the great exodus’ doesn’t hold true when looking at the data, there has been a noticeable shift to work from home culture, especially amongst those in the tech and digital spaces. In fact, some of the world’s largest digital companies have moved to either a hybrid or fully remote model.
With the high cost and stress that comes from living in the big smoke for employees, coupled with the high cost of renting bricks and mortar for businesses, it makes sense that this trend will continue. When ventures like Starlink and Project Kuiper offer the ability to stream 4K video from Mt Everest to our heart’s content, even the ‘information super-highway is not a constraint bound to the clutches of the city and its urban sprawl. With all this in mind, work from home is but a tiny step.
Where to now?
While web APIs have been around since the beginning in some shape or form (luckily, SOAP is no longer with us), they have become the backbone that allows us to connect and utilize the applications and services we rely on today.
Companies like Slack, Xero, Salesforce, and Atlassian have made a name for themselves by focusing on ease of use and integration. In addition, they offer an emphasis on developer tooling and documentation. These platforms can plug into almost any workflow software your company relies on to get things done.
monday.com, is another stand-out example, putting an emphasis on developer API tooling, integration, and automation.
REST APIs are something most developers, in the webspace at least, are probably most familiar. While they are great, monday.com has opted to use GraphQL, an open-source query language that has been ‘all the hype’ in recent years amongst the nerds in Silicon Valley. Allowing developers to obtain and update data in a much more efficient and productive way than REST.
This, along with their robust documentation and ‘starter projects’, testing an idea or getting a required integration working is simple. Something all modern web based management systems should strive to implement.
When choosing a new software package for your business, decision-makers often focus on their current workflows and sign an annual contract if these current needs are met. Future-proofing is just as important. What happens if your needs change in 6 months? Will the solution you invested in allow you to easily modify to align? Even if the solution to which you are you is confined to its intended usage, a well-thought-out and ‘developer friendly’ API gives you the advantage of making that pivot.
To the moon
The technology space moves quickly. While most businesses have been somewhat slow to catch up to the current state of Web 2.0, there is a quickly accelerating hype train around new and ‘revolutionary’ ideas like Web 3.0.
There is a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt – for the uninitiated) and grifting in this area. Mostly by the slew of Twitter users trying to make a quick buck (or millions of bucks). This has made it almost impossible not to take notice of the hype around the Blockchain, especially with Cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
A single Tweet from Elon Musk, soaring a ‘virtual currency’ to create an abundance of new millionaires overnight, before crashing and burning…then bouncing back…then crashing again (you get the idea). This may raise a huge level of concern and lack of confidence around the whole concept, but the real deal here is the Blockchain.
Not only does the Blockchain offer new and radical ways of dealing with payments, but the same principle also helps us with reducing current security issues. It takes ownership of our data away from the centralized grips of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.
The fat cats are unlikely to loosen their grip on Web 2.0 and will likely put up a fight for control. There is a reason to be keeping an eye on how this plays out.
The future is now
We are going to have to wait and see how Web 3.0 plays out. However, for now, the phrase “you’re on mute” is only going to grow more common. The office has changed, and so has how we do business.
The last two years have taught us that digital connectivity and tooling have never been more important. Choosing the right tools designed to be easily extended and adjusted through APIs, is essential. Not just for now, but for future growth that will allow your business to adapt and change along with any societal shifts they may come our way.