How to Build Reporting APIs Better, Stronger and Faster
In the current digital economy, the value of your data will be muted and limited if it stays isolated inside single business systems. You will be able to unleash the potential of digital transformation only when data moves openly between crucial business systems. What connects these applications is APIs (Application Programming Interface). The computing interfaces act as the channels between which the data passes in the direction of analytics & business intelligence to platforms toward predictive models, apps, alerts, dashboards, power reports, etc. It would be hard, if not unfeasible to efficiently manage, optimize, and assess the operation of fast-paced digital businesses without the help of reporting APIs.
With reporting APIs, you will be able to generate an engaging interdependency connecting application providers, their consumers and 3rd parties like analytics vendors. The end customer lies at the heart of this 3-party relationship, and they need the right data at the right time and in the right place. To make sure that this takes place, you need a strong, well-founded reporting API. If the API of a business system does not permit analytics vendors to draw out the given data in a way that is required by the end consumer, everybody stands to lose. At the end of the day, both parties may lose their business if they are not able to make the end consumer happy.
Luckily, an increasing number of software companies are starting to realize that reporting APIs are a vital feature of their product offerings and strategy. As a matter of fact, 55 percent of the companies utilize APIs as one of their revenue streams. Things get better for all the 3 parties involved when the 3rd party developers are able to easily obtain the data they require. The support costs are dramatically reduced and collaborations that mutually benefit both parties are formed. It also increases customer satisfaction, revenue and renewal rates. Again, products become a lot stickier and data-driven innovations take place.
Reporting API: What Is It?
Since there is more than just one kind of API, it is important to explain what exactly is a reporting API. Some APIs furnish large scale data operations in order to compute large proportions of data. In these types of APIs, the responsibility of reviving the metrics through downloaded datasets lies with the 3rd party developer. This, however, can set in motion consistency problems. Another set of APIs are centered on management tasks like deleting or adding groups and users, which normally does not line up with reporting assignments. As for a reporting API, it is typically powered by a dimension/metric mapping or a query language and allows 3rd party developers to obtain accurate outcomes to riposte specific questions.
Reporting API: What Makes it Enterprise-Grade?
Irrespective of whether you are assessing your current reporting API offering or estimating the transparency of a brand new business application, it helps to comprehend the factors that make it enterprise-grade. With the experience of developing over hundreds and thousands of API connectors, Domo now boasts of a rich experience when it comes to operating with different types of reporting APIs – those that are some of the best while others that are not so good. As given out by the VP of Cloud integration Andy Beier, here is an outline of the requirements needed to give you a better grasp of what makes an enterprise-grade reporting API.
1. REST (Representational State Transfer) Architecture: REST may have popularly replaced Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) as the most favorable method for APIs, but some legacy platforms still continue to use SOAP. It goes without saying that developers find it much easier to work with REST, mainly because it supports JSON format which is lightweight, instead of the XML format required by SOAP which is rather bulky.
2. Authentication: A major advantage of using the standard open data sharing is that it permits 3rd party developers to obtain the data they want even without any customer credentials (password/username). Customers on the other hand can approve the data accessed by the developers through revocable tokens. Additionally, they can limit the developers to read-only access as that is pretty much all that is required for any reporting purpose.
3. Delta Approach: In order to organize the bulk of payloads, 3rd party developers should be enabled by reporting APIs to effortlessly locate what has altered following their last download. Say for instance, instead of downloading the present contacts list from the CRM system all over again, the API can instead furnish a minor update regarding the contacts that were recently modified or deleted.
4. Pagination Strategy: Based on the request of the API, one payload can actually possess millions of rows. Sometimes downloading large files like these can affect performance in a negative way and so pagination, a method where the given file is split up into smaller “pages”, becomes needful. When developers have an effective pagination strategy at hand, they can begin their work already as it starts streaming in even before it has downloaded fully.
5. Gzip Compression: An effortless way to minimize the amount of bandwidth needed by each request is to opt for a Gzip compression. It can remarkably minimize the size of the payload files. According to the estimate of Beier, about 50 percent of reporting APIs are presently benefiting from this performance-enhancing attribute.
6. Webhooks: Webhooks are event-triggered HTTP callbacks designed to transmit data to 3rd parties whenever a specified event takes place. These kinds of updates are potentially high volume and fairly lightweight. 3rd party developers normally subscribe to certain events that they are looking to keep track of through webhooks. You can use a push-based webhook structure to supplement the pull-based API game plan.
Along with these crucial technical features, you also need to soundly administer a reporting API to make sure it is enterprise-grade. Instead of simply starting a brand new reporting API and anticipating everything to start operating smoothly, a forward-thinking company acknowledges that they need to do more in order to ensure the success and long-term acquisition of their reporting APIs. Here are 4 crucial areas identified by Beier to level up your reporting API game:
1. Update Strategy: Whenever you plan any changes for API, remember to give ample notice to the developer community so that it is well prepared to reduce any reporting disruptions. In case an entirely new API replaces an existing one, organizations should provide 3rd party developers a maximum of 6 months to operate them simultaneously before they shift to the newly introduced API. Additionally, whenever a brand new API is initiated, considerations should be given regarding issues like backward compatibility and feature parity.
2. Documentation: 3rd party developers should give due diligence to detailed documentation when it comes to reporting APIs. An important characteristic of any documentation is examples that are easy to follow, along with how-to instructions which are grounded on popularly accepted best practices. Besides covering issues like HTTP headers, HTTP verbs, authentication and compression, 3rd parties also require API explorer tools and developer sandboxes in order to develop and assess their API requests.
3. Support: Whenever there is a problem with the API, a status page is needed by 3rd party developers to find out if the API is coming up against any kind of problems. They also require the help of a support desk so that they get help whenever there are any potential issues. Beier notes that today, most of the vendors do not furnish any channels through which 3rd parties can reach out to them whenever something goes wrong. According to his estimate, only about 10 percent of the reporting APIs provide sufficient support.
4. Internal Usage: An effective way for vendors to anticipate or prevent crucial problems with reporting APIs is to instruct their internal teams to employ the same kind of API. Unless you are drinking your own champagne or cramming down your own dog food, you will have less visibility concerning the performance of your reporting API and how you can improve it.
The amalgamation of business platforms has no longer become an option and APIs have become indispensible when it comes to relevant digital transformations. When it comes to a reporting API, it represents an indispensible data channel capable of feeding several downstream processes, tools and applications. Without the help of sufficient reporting APIs, most companies will have a hard time getting insights they need in order to improve their performance and operate their business.
Let’s say for example you turn on the tap in your bathroom, you will obviously expect a constant stream of water flowing out from it. If the water turns out to be sporadic, dirty, too cold, or too hot, you will not be able to use it. In the same way, your company should not limit its customers with inadequate reporting APIs that leaves them longing for better insights or information. APIs are not just your average computing interfaces. These are a company’s extension of its brands and products. You need to treat them as such in order to make sure the data is utilized to deliver greater value for all parties involved.
Robert Jordan, a seasoned marketing professional with over 10 years of experience, currently working as Media Relations Manager at InfoClutch Inc. Have expertise in setting up the lead flow for budding startups and takes it to the next level. Have a deep interest in CX, SEM & Social Media related discussions. Always open for new ideas & discussions.
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