The term API gets thrown around a lot, but some business owners are still at a loss for what exactly API refers to. That’s ok if you’re one of them, because you’re not alone. The good news is that you don’t really need to understand those endless lines of code, unless you have the ambition to hit the rankings at Github. SaaS providers these days do amazing things to keep customers satisfied, so they learnt to make their product available on any platform and combine it with other services. SignNow, for example, created an intuitive API that integrates e-signatures with a website or CRM in minutes.
The acronym for Application Program Interface doesn’t make things clear either. Think of API as a bridge between two autonomous businesses. This bridge is made up of code and acts as the language that allows both sides to communicate. Both businesses can surely survive and function without this bridge, however the integration makes them more attractive for the customer, saving time for every operation and reducing costs.
Thus, a successfully implemented API is a triple win – for the businesses on both sides of the API bridge as well as for their growing number of clients. For small or mid-sized businesses with no in-house developer available, we emphasize four key points of interest regarding API implementation:
You don’t need to code anything yourself
If you are a client of a company offering a newly developed API, just watch the suggested video tutorial and follow the instructions provided. Developers have already done their best to make it as user-friendly as possible. At most, you may be asked to email screenshots to a support team for further troubleshooting.
If you plan to integrate your own service via an API with a large vendor (a CRM or a cloud storage, for example), usually 75% of the job has already been done for you. Most SaaS companies today make their API libraries, samples and use cases publicly available and completely free. SignNow is no exception.
You get extra functionality for free
Developing something from scratch is complicated, expensive and may eat up months of your business’ time and resources. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, you don’t need to draw your own map if Google Maps is available (and regularly updated). You don’t need to purchase and maintain your own cloud if Dropbox is already out there.
This is especially relevant for small businesses that often struggle with a lack of basic resources – time, money and people. Take SignNow’s API integration with Stripe, for example: linking both accounts takes seconds (check out the video here and see for yourself). As a result, you get a smart combination of document e-signing and payment requests that allow you to close more deals and get paid faster.
API simultaneously saves time and boosts sales
The key motivation for implementing an API is to minimize the number of operations required to conduct business. For example, you don’t have to log into several apps at the same time or switch between several tabs in your browser, etc. What does that mean in business terms?
The SignNow API integration with Salesforce allows users to easily request e-signatures, add the needed number of signers and set a signing order, without leaving Salesforce. In SignNow’s API integration with Oracle you don’t even have to leave the Oracle cloud to arrange instructions for document signers, detailing where to e-sign and which specific fields should be filled in. In short, you spend less time preparing orders and invoices while simultaneously collecting payments.
API does NOT mean third parties get access to your data
An API will feature the same advanced tools for security and maintenance as do seperate software systems, including dual-factor authentication, authorization with a password, phone call or SMS, session timeouts due to inactivity, etc. Don’t hesitate to contact support and clear up any questions concerning security, especially when your vendor works together with several other vendors. Usually, API teams will provide their own support.
The SignNow REST API is certified in compliance international security standards like OAuth 2.0 with 2048-bit security and SSL encryption. In English this means we’re protected by the most secure (at least for today) protocol which recognizes the difference between desktop and mobile app use and applies token expiration when there is a potential threat.
If you still have doubts pertaining to the use of an API in your daily operations, ask yourself: am I wearing a fitness tracker right now? Did I use Uber today? If so, congratulations. You’re already an active beneficiary of API solutions, even without noticing it. SignNow is waiting to bring that same experience to your business.