API WIIFM: What’s in it for me? How businesses are using APIs to drive results

API WIIFM

It’s Sunday evening. After a full weekend, I’m in desperate need of a couple of APIs!

Yes, I’m going to use APIs to make my life easier this evening. I need to handle some important tasks that would take me about an hour to accomplish – an hour that I don’t have. First, I grab my phone, pull up a food delivery app, and order dinner for my family from our favorite restaurant using an API. While the food is being prepared and delivered, I can book a flight using an API for an unexpected business trip tomorrow. Then, if I have some extra time, I may use another API to check the scores and stats for my fantasy football team. You see, APIs are used every day by all of us to help create efficiencies and send information back and forth between applications.

API stands for Application Programming Interface. At its core, an API allows software applications, digital devices, and databases to talk to each other in real-time. APIs are little pieces of computer code that make all these tasks possible.

Now that we see how APIs are used in our personal lives, what’s the WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”) from a professional standpoint? 

I often get asked by senior managers and executives why APIs are so important. In short, APIs are perhaps the most critical component to modern, interconnected businesses. Almost every business relies on connectivity for distribution, pricing, testing, payments, marketing, customer experience, and more. 

You may remember when Apple coined the phrase, “There’s an app for that!” As applications and systems have multiplied over the dozen years since that ad campaign, the need for apps to talk to each other has grown exponentially too. The more businesses that rely on APIs, the more need there is to efficiently create them. Today, for nearly any business transaction or experience you can think of, you could safely say, “There’s an API for that!” 

To get a sense of the scale of growth in APIs, consider the API directory maintained by ProgrammableWeb. In 2005, the directory listed 54 APIs. Today, the list tops 24,000 APIs (“2021 State of APIs: Ubiquitous, Diverse, Occasionally Open” by Richard MacManus, The New Stack, May 2021).

At Coherent, we’re fortunate to play a key role in the rapid development of APIs. We’ve helped clients transform their most complex models into API endpoints to achieve superior business results, with our core technology, Coherent Spark. 

Examples include:

Quoting / Rating

Insurance carriers and MGAs have converted their most complex rating models into an API in seconds. This API feeds the broker/agent portal with immediate, real-time quotes.

Pricing

Retirement actuaries have converted their 401(k) pricing models to APIs, which allows for immediate responses for both new business and renewal inquiries. Tweaks in the model don’t require weeks of additional coding, but instead are ported instantly to the sales teams.

Product Speed to Market

Product teams have built and iterated on new product designs and then rapidly deployed them to multiple distribution partners. The product API eliminates much of the coding and testing that can add months to this process. APIs allow developers to take the product and integrate it with both customer-facing and back-end platforms quickly and easily.

Re-rating / Testing

By using APIs, an insurance carrier was able to re-rate 60,000 policies in a matter of minutes. The usual process of multiple days of coding work, hand-offs, and error checking from the analyst group was reduced down to just a few hours of focused work. The carrier also used the API testing features, which resulted in increased confidence that the process is repeatable and reliable for future projects.

Illustrations

Required annuity and life insurance illustrations were converted from complex Excel models to APIs in seconds, turning a clunky process into a fast, completely digital experience. 

So, what is the business WIIFM for APIs? Speed, confidence, versioning, savings, future-ready, and profitability are all words that come to mind! APIs are accelerating business transformation across the globe and provide real value to any business that needs to manage logic and create APIs, from insurance to banking, asset management and other verticals.  The use cases for converting complex logic to APIs are truly endless. 

Thanks to APIs, the kids enjoyed their favorite meal, my flight is booked, and my fantasy football results continue to remind me why I’m not the GM of a football team. Meanwhile, as a senior executive, I can rely on APIs to eliminate pain points, create efficiencies, and easily connect to the applications and platforms that drive the best results for my business.  With Coherent Spark, I’m turning complex business logic into APIs in a matter of seconds, just as seamlessly as turning my desire for a quick meal solution into a reality. 

If you’re a business leader and you’re wondering, “What’s in it for me?” when it comes to APIs, you might start by asking yourself, “What am I hungry for?” Because just about any business objective you have can be well served by finding the right APIs—and the right way to generate them. Fast and fresh.

Bon appétit!

Todd Buchanan

CEO, US

Todd is Coherent’s Chief Executive Officer, USA, leading the growth of our innovative technology solutions in the insurance and investment markets across the United States. Todd’s management and distribution experience, coupled with his strategy development and execution expertise, provide Coherent with a unique knowledge of the US insurance market. Todd believes technology is critical in helping to speed up the process of ensuring every customer has access to the best insurance products and services to protect their families and futures.

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