When different programming interfaces and web services can communicate with one another, you have new opportunities to integrate business systems and software. For example, you can integrate your field service management software with your information system to streamline information flows and reduce duplicate entries.
The term API — application programming interface — is a big buzzword right now. That’s because APIs are directly tied to digital transformation for businesses.
Simply put, an API is software code that allows different software programs to communicate with one another. Google Maps is a good example. To encourage developers to incorporate Google Maps into their applications, Google provides APIs that allow developers to access their mapping technology. Uber does the same thing.
But, APIs are not just for big companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA). Ordinary companies also have opportunities to strengthen their data ecosystem by enriching internal data with data from complementary businesses, open data and social media data. Together, these different data types deliver more value.
APIs help build businesses
European financial services group, Société Générale, is a good example of what’s possible. The company’s Global Banking and Investor Solutions (GBIS) division, which looks after B2B corporate and investment banking, asset management, investor services and private banking, offers a marketplace with some 1,500 APIs for development of innovative customer services. In the future, GBIS plans to open up to financial technology companies and other financing companies.
France’s state-owned railway company, SNCF, is another good example. By giving developers an API that provides access to station stops, timetables and route calculations, the public transportation company supports an ecosystem of startups that are looking to enhance the traveler experience.
SNCF also uses its API internally. Train controllers and operators can share their schedules to better manage work-life balance. And, when SNCF sells its Ouibus bus subsidiary to online carpooling company, BlaBlaCar, BlaBlaCar plans to use an API to coordinate interactions between its bus and carpooling services.
APIs are a potential revenue source
In addition to helping companies increase innovation by enabling the creation of new services and the optimization of existing services, APIs can also be a revenue source. In fact, some companies monetize their APIs through a marketplace.
Different economic models can be used — subscription, pay-per-use, freemium…SAP, which develops enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, has revised its pricing policy to take into account the growing number of third-party applications that access its software.
Giving aging information systems new agility
APIs can also help businesses with aging systems, especially at large companies where legacy business applications still run in a mainframe environment. The “APIzation” of their information systems gives them the agility to take advantage of new technologies related to big data and artificial intelligence.
Integrating field service management software with business software
Naturally, APIzation also applies to the on-site maintenance industry and any field service management solution worthy of its name must offer APIs and be able to interoperate with the main software packages used.
This interoperability means customer data from accounting software or ERP software can be used in field service management software. Conversely, billing data form field service management software can be shared with accounting and ERP software. These automatic data exchanges avoid duplicate data entries.
Praxedo offers a wide range of ready-to-use connectors
To ensure its customers can easily interface with their existing information systems, Praxedo has developed APIs and web services along with ready-to-use connectors.
For example, the company offers a Sage 100 ERP connector that enables the Sage database to be replicated in the Praxedo software. It also allows job times and reports created in the Praxedo software to be converted into sales or internal documents in Sage 100.
Praxedo also offers shelf connectors for Sage Enterprise Management (formerly Sage X3) and Sage Business Cloud Management & Finance to facilitate data exchanges with both solutions.
A native connector for Salesforce
In the customer relationship management (CRM) area, Praxedo has developed a native connector that allows its solution to work with Salesforce. Administrators can use the Salesforce Service Cloud console to initiate and track fieldwork and to access all of the information needed to respond to customer inquiries — contact information, call history, email history and reports.
If the customer request in the Salesforce Service Cloud console requires field service, the user generates a work order that causes the Praxedo software to create a service request that can then be scheduled.
The schedule and the name of the assigned technician are forwarded to Salesforce in real time and associated with the corresponding work order. Customers are kept informed about the progress of their request. When the job is finished, the report completed by the technician on their mobile device is sent to Salesforce and the work order is marked as complete.
Support for many other software packages
The Praxedo solution also interfaces with QuickBooks online management software for contractors and very small enterprises (VSEs). Recently, the company also developed a connector for IBM Maximo, a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) solution and, more broadly, an enterprise asset management (EAM) solution.
And this is by no means an exhaustive list. The Praxedo solution also interfaces with a variety of software packages from Microsoft Dynamics, Infor and Divalto as well as ERP and CRM solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and intermediate sized companies (mid caps).