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What are APIs and why should business care?

Slides of the course on big data by C. Levallois from EMLYON Business School. For business students. Check the online video connected with these slides. -> Definition of APIs from a technical and business point of view.

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MK99 – Big Data 1 
Big data & cross-platform analytics 
MOOC lectures Pr. Clement Levallois
MK99 – Big Data 2 
What are APIs? 
• 
Definition 
• 
Highlight of the business relevance of APIs
MK99 – Big Data 3 
• 
API: 
– 
“Application Programming Interface” 
– 
An API is the way to make software programs “easy to plug and share” with other programs. 
– 
APIs have a crucial role to play because without them programs are like pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit with each other. 
– 
APIs have become a key of the data revolution because they facilitate the sharing of data: thanks to them one can write programs that deliver data, and other programs can connect to them easily through their API to collect their data.
MK99 – Big Data 4 
APIs, the longer definition 
• 
API: 
– 
An API is a convention when writing code. It is the practice that consists in keeping bits of code you write separate and independent from each other, and connect them through neatly defined lines of code (the API itself). 
– 
This makes it easier to develop code: software can be split up in little chunks (sometimes called “libraries”) that can be developed by different teams of coders. Then this chunks are reunited in the big project, each chunk plugging to the others through APIs. 
– 
The “quality of an API” often designates its ease of use: is it quick and convenient to plug your bit of code to this other bit of code, through its API? 
– 
That’s why you might hear complaints or praise about this or that program that has “a nice API” … or an “awful API”: this shows how easy or hard it is to interact with it. In practice, the quality of an API is an important driver in the decision to choose this or that software solution.
MK99 – Big Data 5 
Example 1 APIs make it easy to integrate new, external data 
Instagram has many servers with pictures on them. 
On this Instagram server there is also a computer program. Its role is to deliver these pictures to any computer asking for them. 
To make it easy, the computer program on Instagram’s server includes an API. 
Your company has servers. You have the idea to collect Instagram pictures mentioning your brand, to see how it is represented and showcase consumers using your products. Your IT department writes a program to connect to Instagram servers through the Internet, to download all pictures that mention your brand in their hashtags. This is an easy task because Instagram servers have a nice API (see on the left) with clear documentation on how to write programs connecting to them. Done! See: http://instagram.com/developer/ Businesses making use of the Instagram API: http://instagram.com/developer/business/ 
API
MK99 – Big Data 6 
Example 2: APIs makes it possible to open up your data to external users 
The real time list of all departing trains 
A programmer who will use your data to develop useful web apps or mobile apps for passengers 
The list of all stations opening and closing times 
The real time frequency of traffic at each turnstile entry / exit points for each station 
Server connected to the Web 
API 
API 
API 
Public API 
Your company: the Metro Transit Authority at NYC 
The public API of the NYC metro system is available here: 
http://web.mta.info/developers/

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What are APIs and why should business care?

  • 1. MK99 – Big Data 1 Big data & cross-platform analytics MOOC lectures Pr. Clement Levallois
  • 2. MK99 – Big Data 2 What are APIs? • Definition • Highlight of the business relevance of APIs
  • 3. MK99 – Big Data 3 • API: – “Application Programming Interface” – An API is the way to make software programs “easy to plug and share” with other programs. – APIs have a crucial role to play because without them programs are like pieces of a puzzle that don’t fit with each other. – APIs have become a key of the data revolution because they facilitate the sharing of data: thanks to them one can write programs that deliver data, and other programs can connect to them easily through their API to collect their data.
  • 4. MK99 – Big Data 4 APIs, the longer definition • API: – An API is a convention when writing code. It is the practice that consists in keeping bits of code you write separate and independent from each other, and connect them through neatly defined lines of code (the API itself). – This makes it easier to develop code: software can be split up in little chunks (sometimes called “libraries”) that can be developed by different teams of coders. Then this chunks are reunited in the big project, each chunk plugging to the others through APIs. – The “quality of an API” often designates its ease of use: is it quick and convenient to plug your bit of code to this other bit of code, through its API? – That’s why you might hear complaints or praise about this or that program that has “a nice API” … or an “awful API”: this shows how easy or hard it is to interact with it. In practice, the quality of an API is an important driver in the decision to choose this or that software solution.
  • 5. MK99 – Big Data 5 Example 1 APIs make it easy to integrate new, external data Instagram has many servers with pictures on them. On this Instagram server there is also a computer program. Its role is to deliver these pictures to any computer asking for them. To make it easy, the computer program on Instagram’s server includes an API. Your company has servers. You have the idea to collect Instagram pictures mentioning your brand, to see how it is represented and showcase consumers using your products. Your IT department writes a program to connect to Instagram servers through the Internet, to download all pictures that mention your brand in their hashtags. This is an easy task because Instagram servers have a nice API (see on the left) with clear documentation on how to write programs connecting to them. Done! See: http://instagram.com/developer/ Businesses making use of the Instagram API: http://instagram.com/developer/business/ API
  • 6. MK99 – Big Data 6 Example 2: APIs makes it possible to open up your data to external users The real time list of all departing trains A programmer who will use your data to develop useful web apps or mobile apps for passengers The list of all stations opening and closing times The real time frequency of traffic at each turnstile entry / exit points for each station Server connected to the Web API API API Public API Your company: the Metro Transit Authority at NYC The public API of the NYC metro system is available here: http://web.mta.info/developers/
  • 7. MK99 – Big Data 7 Example 3 APIs make it easy to integrate your own data when it comes from different silos The list of all your products is in an Oracle db on a server controlled by the Production Manager Your company without APIs The list of all your prospects is managed in Microsoft Access by the Director of Sales. Visits and logins to your e-commerce website are stored on this server by the new Division for Digital Marketing of your company. The list and purchase history of all your clients in your brick and mortar stores is hosted in a CRM by an external company specialized in customer relationships. *db = database Downloads and login activity of customers using your Iphone app are stored by the young web agency which developed this app. How to have a global picture of your data / activity scattered in all these different formats and places? Hell!
  • 8. MK99 – Big Data 8 The list of all your products is in an Oracle db on a server controlled by the Production Manager Your company with APIs (SOA: service oriented architecture) The list of all your prospects is managed in Microsoft Access by the Director of Sales. Visits and logins to your e-commerce website are stored on this server by the new Division for Digital Marketing of your company. The list and purchase history of all your clients in your brick and mortar stores is hosted in a CRM by an external company specialized in customer relationships. *db = database Downloads and login activity of customers using your Iphone app are stored by the young web agency which developed this app. API API API API API Your data management platform Example 3 APIs make it easy to integrate your own data when it comes from different silos
  • 9. MK99 – Big Data 9 Are APIs just about programs exchanging data or files? • No. – APIs enable programs to communicate with each other – This facilitates the exchange of data (see previous slides), and this is an excellent reason to use APIs! – But 2 programs connected via an API can also exchange services: API The server of VISA or MasterCard The CRM of your company Your CRM asks: Is the credit score of client with credit card number 4562 5456 5416 5488 good enough to qualify for a 2 years plan? VISA answers: yes 1. 2. 3. Your company pays VISA 2.5€ for this call to their API.
  • 10. MK99 – Big Data 10 Interest is broad and deep. APIs are currently reshaping the web, and disrupting some industries: telecoms, payments, etc! APIs are everywhere Examples Media & Content Social & e-Commerce Others SaaS Integration 10 Source: http://www.slideshare.net/3scale/apis-for-biz-dev-20-which-business-model-15473323 by 3Scale
  • 11. MK99 – Big Data 11 Create New Distribution Channels APIs Deliver Raw Data, Content and Services 11 Allowing you to… Partner Up Power Mobile Apps Build an Ecosystem Protect IPR Decrease your cost of serving your customer Serve any type of device, software, anywhere “Externalize” your R&D. Foster Innovation Lower Barriers to Integration Create New Business Models Rationalize & Control access to your resources Reach More Customers Source: http://www.slideshare.net/3scale/apis-for-biz-dev-20-which-business-model-15473323 by 3Scale
  • 12. MK99 – Big Data 12 To end on a tech note: API, webservices and REST • You don’t need to study how APIs works in practice: this is the role of IT services. • However it is useful to know some vocabulary to be found in business briefs: – Since APIs are merely conventions for writing code, there can be many of these conventions or types of APIs. – Indeed, SOAP and REST are two of the most common types of APIs. They allow for the exchange of communications and data over Internet. – REST is the most popular one. With it, it is simpler to create programs that deliver or receive data and services over the web. Said differently, REST is a technology to create “web services”. You will sometimes see REST called a “web API”.
  • 13. MK99 – Big Data 13 This slide presentation is part of a course offered by EMLYON Business School (www.em-lyon.com) Contact Clement Levallois (levallois [at] em-lyon.com) for more information.