When it comes to innovation in the software industry, collaboration is key. To promote a truly collaborative environment, IT decision-makers should consider whether or not the software they use supports open application programming interfaces (APIs). Open APIs allow for seemingly disparate software and applications to integrate with one another, allowing for new, specialized features to get developed. By expanding your current software’s capabilities, APIs can open the door to endless innovation possibilities.

APIs are becoming so important that some have coined the phrase the “API economy.” According to a 2013 study by the Cutter Consortium, the growing number of open APIs is expected to reach 30,000 by 2016. The driving forces behind this enormous growth are the proliferation of Internet-connected mobile devices and social networks for which software developers are clamoring to release applications.

APIs Create Opportunities for Businesses

As more companies conduct business electronically, the benefits to using innovative software applications are becoming more substantial. By allowing internal and external developers, partners and customers to access their APIs, companies can design or contribute to applications that utilize their software in innovative ways. This provides enhanced functionality to a wider range of customers with more flexibility than ever before. APIs can improve operations by automating processes, and features can be added to existing software to devise new customer outreach methods, generate revenue and build partnerships — all things that provide organizations with a competitive advantage.

In healthcare, for example, APIs can be used to create patient-facing applications that connect providers with patients more efficiently. With tools such as these, healthcare providers can more effectively collect and report health data, or enable patients to securely access their own electronic health records.

APIs Enhance Mobile Security

Due to the increased use of mobile devices and cloud-based applications, workers need a secure way to access the information they need. However, the cost and inconvenience of having to write new code can be prohibitive. APIs enable organizations to easily provide sensitive data access over cloud services. These allow employees to see information on mobile devices in a consistent manner while also alleviating security concerns. By enabling developers to access back-end data, as well as the security and policy infrastructure, APIs can help create applications with controls such as identity verification, access management and data encryption.

APIs further enhance data security by providing a central point for creating and monitoring an audit trail. They also help apply controls for enforcing privacy and security policies to ensure that federal guideline compliance is being met. This is especially important in heavily regulated industries, such as finance and healthcare.

FireEye, a leading cybersecurity platform, recently announced that it is using secure Samsung APIs to enhance mobile security on KNOX-enabled devices, which can help reduce risks from potentially harmful applications. According to FireEye’s research, 31 percent of the applications that it tested, each of which has had more than 50,000 downloads, contain remote, exploitable vulnerabilities. By integrating with Samsung KNOX via its APIs, applications can be prevented from running until they have been analyzed for security risks. This can help prevent information from being exposed inadvertently.

Samsung offers a portfolio of business services, which includes application support for enterprises seeking to migrate their software to mobile devices. Samsung Business Services offers application development, training and consulting, as well as a suite of security and technical support resources. This provides a way for organizations to easily and flexibly customize their mobile devices for use in their organizations.

Open APIs hold many advantages that enable organizations to better reach out to customers, build valuable partner ecosystems and increase agility. But they also hold promise by providing a convenient, flexible way for integrating security controls into existing applications and devices, requiring minimal coding effort. As mobile device usage continues to expand and the Internet of Things becomes a reality, APIs will become even more crucial for enhancing security and protecting sensitive information.

Posts By

Fran Howarth

Fran Howarth is an industry analyst specializing in security. She has worked within the security technology sector for over 25 years as an analyst, consultant and writer. Fran focuses on the business needs for security technologies, with a focus on emerging technology sectors. Current areas of focus include mobile security, cloud security, information governance and data security, identity and access management, network and endpoint security, security intelligence and analytics, and security governance and regulations. Follow Fran on Twitter: @FranNL

View more posts by Fran Howarth