The Supreme Connection Between APIs and Resilience
Keith LaBotz - March 03, 2022
The connection between supply chain resilience and software APIs is powerful. APIs improve strategy, productivity, agility, and provide a fast track to expanded capabilities.
With the focus on increasing resilience and agility, data exchange is front and center for many companies. APIs are the standard for web-based access to data and software functionality, so they are getting a lot of interest lately.
Companies are discovering APIs are more than just a valuable software tool for process improvements. APIs also have a strategic side, and your company can gain a competitive advantage by understanding them. According to Gartner, by 2025:
- Roughly 90% of companies will have budgeted improvements to increase resilience.
- More than 80% of organizations plan to develop digital ecosystems to support the most critical supply chain strategies - resilience, agility, and purpose-driven organizations.
- 40% of Chief Supply Chain Officers plan to implement an application programming interface (API), blockchain for real-time supply chain data exchange.
- The most exchanged data will flip from sales order information to disruption data.
These reflect a strong interest in APIs and suggest significant changes in supply chain execution for companies using them.
Why are supply chains turning to APIs? The 2021 State of the API Report ranks reasons why APIs are the preferred route for creating software solutions:
Source: The 2021 State of the API Report, Postman, Inc.
A few interesting takeaways from these benefits connect APIs with software resilience and agility:
- API benefits for software development mirror supply chain priorities.
- The most desirable benefit is “Quality,” meaning error-free software execution, software that meets expectations. That is also the primary purpose of every supply chain.
- Resilience is the ability of a software process to meet expectations under adverse conditions, such as system volatility.
- The second most desirable benefit is agility. Agile processes enable resilience; agility and resilience are two sides of the same coin.
APIs Accelerate Resilience and Agility
Because supply chain processes are essentially software, API benefits imbue directly to the supply chain, including resilience and agility. The plug-and-play nature of APIs allows rapid, low-risk deployment of process improvements, promoting agility.
- APIs' modular and customizable nature enables people and processes to respond to changes quickly.
- Changes are made with surgical precision in workflow, made available globally within seconds, and rolled back immediately if required.
APIs are a Digital Strategy
Resilience is a strategic initiative for most supply chains, and the ability of APIs to facilitate agility leads to adopting an API-driven business model. That means using APIs to guide process improvements and incorporating them into decision-making. APIs become integral to an enterprise’s digital strategy.
“We already live in an API economy where CIOs must look beyond APIs as technology and instead build their company’s business models, digital strategies, and ecosystems on them,” said Paolo Malinverno, Research Vice President at Gartner.
The 2021 State of the API Report reveals more companies are making APIs a core part of digital strategy:
- 49% of respondents said more than half of their organizations’ development effort is spent on APIs (up from 40% last year).
- 94% stated that the investment into APIs would increase or stay the same this year.
- Using a scale from one to ten to indicate a commitment to an API-first philosophy, 67% ranked themselves at five or higher - a five-point increase over last year.
Supply Chain API Example: Vehicle Routing
The most well-known API in supply chains are cloud-based services like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). An SaaS is a remote app hosted on a central server offering software features and data for automating supply chain functions.
Consider a SaaS app for vehicle routing optimization like flexis profiTOUR. ProfiTOUR’s API enables a transportation operation to automate various delivery planning, scheduling, loading, and management functions.
- The solution exchanges data with the end-user enterprise systems and supports third-party APIs.
- Functionality and data can be accessed via API from enterprise systems, or end users can use the ProfiTOUR UI to manage the process.
- ProfiTOUR’s API accepts order data from the enterprise, real-time vehicle positioning, and traffic conditions to optimize navigation and delivery sequences.
- Enterprise systems can incorporate real-time delivery data from ProfiTOUR into existing processes.
- ProfiTOURs UI can be present to manage delivery functions:
- Deliveries for an entire fleet of trucks, arranging multiple pickups and deliveries for the lowest fuel costs and carbon footprint.
- ETAs are updated due to changing weather and traffic conditions; ProfiTOUR automatically updates enterprise systems and alerts stakeholders.
- A dashboard highlighting delivery risks provides the end-user with controls for mitigating disruptions, but alerts could be used instead of the UI if desired.
Using APIs allows the enterprise to customize data exchange and functionality as needed. Tighter integration with workflow, flexibility, and higher productivity promote quicker, more effective responses.
That’s what agility looks like and supply chain resilience results.
APIs are available for just about any type of supply chain functionality, and the list is expanding daily. APIs are more than a productivity tool - they can set a strategy for supply chain resilience.
Click below for more information