In a day and age where the average business reportedly uses more than 1,000 individual applications, it’s more important than ever before to make sure that they’re all integrated. That’s where APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) come in.
You’ve probably already heard of APIs before. APIs are crucial to running forward-thinking organizations—their wide-ranging benefits will help make your business more efficient, more connected, and more successful.
Throughout this piece, we’re going to explore what APIs are, why they’re beneficial, how APIs can be used, some examples of solutions that have been developed with APIs, and what we have planned for the TOPdesk API going forward.
What Is an API?
According to multinational software company Red Hat, a subsidiary of IBM, an API is “... a set of definitions and protocols for building and integrating application software.” APIs essentially allow data to be transmitted between different software products. But as well as allowing different pieces of software to speak to each other, APIs also define how this occurs: the requests that can be made between systems, how to make them, the data formats to use, and more.
Imagine that your company is reaching the end of its financial year and wants to pay out bonuses to its staff. Departmental managers meet with the executive team to decide who’s going to receive one and how much they’ll be paid. This information is then relayed over to the HR team, who put this down into their all-encompassing employee management system.
However, it won’t be the HR team who actually go ahead and pay out these bonuses—so their system will have to be linked to your finance department’s payroll software. And how do you ensure that this information is successfully shared across these two systems? With the help of an API. The right API will allow both the HR and finance team’s software to speak to each other, with payroll automatically updating based on changes made to the employee management system. Or perhaps the HR and finance team both use an API to create custom reports (using their business intelligence software), before sharing these with their departmental managers and the executive team.
Why Are APIs So Beneficial?
Modern organizations rely upon a vast network of software and applications. Each individual department will have their own ever-expanding ecosystem of tools, all of which serve a different purpose but are critical to the smooth running of your business.
Technology’s great, but it can be frustrating when your different systems work in silos. You have to manually share data from system to system and you’re never sure if what you’re seeing in one piece of software is accurate and up-to-date. That’s why integrations are so important. However, not all integrations are created equal—“point-to-point” integrations (where you custom code integrations for each individual system) can be time-consuming and error-prone.
If your organization relies upon a wide range of tools to function, you need API-led integration. According to Whishworks, APIs lead to “greater flexibility, governance, speed and reusability.” Such reusability is crucial—it means that one API can be used for different purposes, including integrating with different systems.
As a result, APIs can make your organization drastically more efficient. Once you expose one piece of software’s functionality in a standardised language, you can then use this information to facilitate integrations with other systems. Imagine you use an API to integrate—and share data with—another internal tool. Both pieces of software will become more valuable to your end users as they’ll now have access to a wider range of up-to-date business data. Once that takes place at scale, you’ll begin to run an interconnected organization where information- and knowledge-sharing is embedded into everything that you do.
But don’t just take our word for it. According to the Mulesoft 2020 Connectivity Benchmark Report, organizations that embrace APIs see significant increases in productivity, agility, and innovation—all while significantly decreasing their operational costs.
4 Examples of TOPdesk APIs
Now that we’ve covered what APIs are and why they’re beneficial, let’s dive into three APIs that we’ve specifically developed to help TOPdesk customers.
Incident Management API
Our general API mainly deals with incident management. Among other things, you can use it to exchange tickets with your suppliers (including ServiceNow, Jira, and Zendesk), as well as sending bills to your customers by sharing key data with your bookkeeping application (thanks to our integration with Exact Online). Display information from incidents on a big screen and integrate with WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams to bring all communication channels within the TOPdesk platform—making life significantly easier for your entire team.
Reservation Management API
Our reservation management API is fantastic at enabling organization-wide facility management. It’s plays a crucial role in a number of our marketplace solutions, such as the Room Reservation Screen solution to have screens displayed outside meeting rooms show when the room has been reserved, and the Office App Roombooking Integration, which allows you to find, and book, available meeting rooms from your phone.
Knowledge Management API
Our Knowledge base API helps your organization build its own internal solutions for knowledge management: giving you the freedom to create tailor-made integrations to access and manage your TOPdesk Knowledge Base.
As such, you’re able to export the TOPdesk Knowledge Base into a completely different system (if you so wish). Alternatively, you can also set about importing knowledge from disparate external systems before making it all readily available in one central place for both employees and customers alike.
Our OData API, unlike the other three listed above, is used primarily for the sake of reporting. By integrating with Power BI, you’re able to quickly produce comprehensive reports that leverage data spread across a myriad of different tools and different systems. In a world where having the ability to make quick, data-led decisions is more important than ever before, our OData API is the perfect solution for your organization.
What the Future Holds for TOPdesk APIs
The TOPdesk API makes our functionality available for automation and integration. It will help you create a smarter, more interconnected organization, and will allow you to get the best out of all the tools at your disposal.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s finished—in fact, far from it. We’re actively working on improving the API’s consistency and trying to use it to expose even more of the TOPdesk functionality.
For instance, we’re currently working on further developing our operations management API, which allows users to create and update operational activities within TOPdesk. Our newest updates will enable users to leverage action sequences to automate customer-specific processes, as well as facilitating integrations with long-term maintenance solutions.
We’re also working to improve the performance of the OData feed. This will allow you to make more accurate, more comprehensive reports, quicker than before. What’s not to love?
Want to start using APIs?
On our TOPdesk API page we provide you with everything you need to know to get the most out of our APIs. You'll find:
- what's an API and how to use it;
- tutorials for how to start using APIs;
- extensive documentation for all available APIs.