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APIs: The Key to the Future of Business Communications
By Curtis Peterson, SVP Cloud Operations, RingCentral
So how have the recent developments and transformations in open API technologies improved business communications? Beyond connecting the dots between modes of communication, open APIs have improved business efficiency by a landslide and are paving the way for future technologies, such as voice recognition and machine learning, to easily and seamlessly enter and fuel the growth and success of any business.
The RingCentral Story
Just a decade ago, companies would dole out a huge portion of their IT budget to a vendor like Avaya for the minimal integrations they offered. When RingCentral first began dreaming up the future of business communications, we dove right in and got our hands dirty. We built our platform from scratch and code that enabled any combination of our features and products to play nicely in the same sandbox. And then, instead of custom-building, we began exposing our APIs to other third parties to encourage integrations from third-party applications.
Meanwhile, third-party application developers were experiencing phenomenal traction on building and introducing some groundbreaking technologies. We embraced the fact that any company could integrate a custom-built application with what we host on our platform. All of this building and developing has led to a greater seismic shift. Collectively, as a technology community, we’re starting to realize we can do more together than we ever could alone. This has only further propelled the digitalization of the workplace, especially when it comes to business communications.
Digitalization of Business Communications
Communications are pervasive throughout most employees’ workstreams.
APIs have been instrumental in digitizing this process. Companies can integrate multiple module integration capabilities into applications that their employees prefer to use all day, thus eliminating the need to toggle between applications. For example, the RingCentral and Salesforce integration enables users to see all their modes of communication with various sales opportunities right in front of them. Similarly, businesses that already created their own, customized sales application can reap the same benefit through a similar integration with RingCentral.
In short, API integrations in business communications eliminate the need for workers to context-switch. A recent study by RingCentral found that workers today are using an average of four apps, with 20 percent using six or more. These apps might support business communications practices like phone calls, texts, web meetings, video conferencing, or team messaging. 69 percent of workers waste up to an entire hour each day just navigating between this myriad of communication apps, amounting to a waste of 32 days per year.
A World of Possibilities (or Missed Opportunities)
Beyond helping businesses to eliminate huge waste in productivity, APIs allow companies to embrace modern technology quickly and easily. Businesses can test-run or use at-scale some of the newest technologies, including machine learning and voice recognition, all through APIs and integrations.
If the platforms a business is using aren’t open and built on API stacks, there is a strong chance they will get stuck sooner or later. I predict that we’re on the verge of some game-changing technology, and if you’re not using an open platform for business communications, you might miss out on the power of these new advancements.
It’s also important to understand the data transactions happening behind the facade of the APIs and integrations. RingCentral is applying the concept of open data to all of our customers—in other words; we allow companies to have all their data and let it flow freely through multiple, integrated applications. This allows our customers to leverage more sophisticated APIs and truly improve their business communications with the most advanced technology.
APIs and open integrations have enabled RingCentral to create a business communications platform that is truly customizable and built to scale as new technologies are introduced into the marketplace. And by doing so, we’ve discovered some additional benefits that weren’t even on our roadmap. For example, in most organizations today, there are a few people who are eager, willing, and able to do a coding project that enhances the company’s business experience. Our API platform gives customers code examples and even starter code that enables a novice to develop a particular business function and quickly implement a small, but often very impactful, project without undergoing years of developer training.
By fostering an open environment, RingCentral is truly ushering in an era of digital transformation for business communications. Closing off integrations would be like saying that you must use what we prescribe to communicate, or not use our platform. Given the vast amount of useful technology that already exists today and that will be available in the next few years, a prescribed approach would just put our customers on a fast track to stagnation. APIs have been and will continue to be, one of the biggest keys to success for businesses as they work to integrate communications solutions into their workflows to power their global workforces.