The advent of SIP (session initiation protocol) more than two decades ago led to the belief that PTSN (public switched telephone network) would cease to exist. It talked about the blossoming of a new era which promised an Internet-led world driven by transparent, interconnected and interoperable multichannel communications. Similar to what WebRTC propagated – minimizing the complexities, developer skillsets and barriers required to build advanced communication capabilities into Web-based services. But we all know that it didn’t turn out exactly as predicted; in fact the mainstream UC world was left in all its business-as-usual, unaffected normalcy.
However, the era of digitization has ushered in a new wave of collaborative culture and this has made workflow automation an essential experience for today’s mobile worker. This is where RESTful APIs can help.
But what exactly are RESTful APIs?
While the technical definition is - REST (Representational State Transfer) or RESTful API leverages existing protocols or provides an architecture to create a uniform interface for distributed hypermedia systems. Simply put, it’s not restricted by XML and enables you to build the APIs that fulfills your business needs.
They enhance workflow outcomes by providing users with innovative collaboration experiences, allowing integration and customization of the most complex of workflows into any application. They not only help in reducing the friction caused by communication barriers but also offer a strategic competitive advantage.
As users get to choose from a more flexible and interoperable palette of solutions offered by different vendors, it enables them to have meaningful interactions through APIs. By ensuring portability and compatibility across multiple devices, RESTful APIs have transformed the adoption, synthesis and proliferation of Web-based services. Curious about how it works in a real-case scenario? Here’s an example:
Imagine this. You want to create a new Web app that would give stiff competition to Instagram. The objective here is to simplify the process so that it’s easy for your developers to build apps and integrations without requiring to learn new coding precepts or languages. You want the code generated for browser A to also work with different browsers B, C and so on. Simple, right? Same goes for smartphone operating systems. RESTful APIs use simple constructs like resources and resource locators (e.g. URLs) and familiar calls (”get”), enabling your app to seamlessly interact with a Web server.
How can you leverage APIs and create workflow innovations?
In the unified communications (UC) space, interoperability is crucial as it allows vendors to deliver technological flexibilities that ensure cross-platform communications. With APIs, new UC entrants could create a technology environment that is tailored to their customers needs. And this helped them to gain market reputations. But RESTful APIs offer integrations with everyone else, creating multi-vendor environment with effortless compatibility of multiple UC systems.
Both these approaches allow developers to integrate UC technology into user workflows powering best-in-class voice and video communications.
Especially for service providers, RESTful APIs offer a significant advantage. As they provide an edge to thrive in an incredibly competitive marketplace by giving them the flexibility to customize business communications as per user’s workflows and build more value around their offerings.
Want to get ahead of the wave? Here’s a small Scenario Planning exercise that can guide you on how you can leverage RESTful APIs to enhance your solutions:
1. Choose a workflow
Identify one workflow that’s integral to your team productivity. Try to flowchart it for better understanding. Get it vetted by your organization’s key members and try to visualize the end result as a powerful communications tool that rests in a user’s workflow, streamlines communications and ultimately, drives business efficiencies.
2. Evaluate your legacy communication systems:
Currently how many individual electronic communication systems are required to complete this one single workflow? Also how many communication barriers and siloed operations occur in this one asset/process of the workflow? Do your employees juggle between various communication systems and lose focus when they shift their attention, in this particular flow?
If it is reducing a worker’s productivity, you must definitely consider unifying these disjointed systems and closing down these operational gaps.
3. Consider building agility
Where in this workflow can you introduce simplicity or empower your workers with more flexibility? Take this example here- would you be printing off a digital form just to sign it again?
If you introduce streamlined team communication workflows, the diverse team members of your marketing team can regularly huddle online for ideation and brainstorming regularly collaborate through ad hoc video conferences. This also gives them a chance to unify on one interface instead of using their ‘personally-preferred’ multiple communication apps. By using the “start conference” function in their team app, they are saying ‘yes’ to collaboration and boosting team productivity, eliminating those communication barriers. Ultimately making life simple for you too!
4. Look for existing integrations and RESTful APIs:
With those challenger vendor, you might want to first browse through their already-existing, continually-expanding library of ready-made integrations.
Next, consider your current vendors’ APIs. This has advantages of its own as there won’t be a need for coding experience to test out whether your choice of integration is supported or not.
Your developer team can help examine this for you. Consider their opinion of whether you really need more specialist skills and coding expertise for the kind of integration you are looking to deploy for your business. They can verify and provide professional insights into the scope of work and budget estimates for the possible integrations.
5. Experiment, evaluate and execute:
It’s always smart to test out a ready-built integration with a small subset of users. You can see the benefits, measure the ROI and assess whether you really require a custom solution or not.
By completing the above exercise, you are now a step closer towards building a frictionless, collaborative workflow using the APIs. Finally, here are a couple of go-to tips:
Tip 1: If you’re planning a development using an existing API, they come with a library of scripts for various calls and queries. Your developers can easily use those into their code.
Tip 2: Request your current vendor(s) to publish the necessary APIs, if they do not already do so. And if not? Get ready to evaluate new vendors based on market credibility and success, especially if they can solve a pertinent business problem more efficiently than your current one.
CounterPath’s Bria Desktop API has been known to provide a very comprehensive set of controls and events that can help build your integration - by leveraging the award-winning Bria® softphone technology. From advanced calling functionalities to instant messaging and presence, local call recording and audio device information, Bria Desktop API provides a way to monitor and respond to calls without switching application focus. For example, if your application provides information about customers for your employees to phone on its webpage, the Desktop API allows for your employees to place phone calls through their Bria desktop softphone clients and manage the call. They can mute, record or transfer the call or even send an IM (instant message). A great way to boost team productivity, isn’t it?
It also allows developers to build and customize applications by leveraging i.e. providing access to or controlling Bria softphone clients and offering robust unified communications solutions.