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Why You Need an API Strategy for Your Business

May 5, 2017

Every fleet manager should have an API strategy in today’s day and age. API is short for application programming interface, and it allows developers to write a program to take advantage of another operating system or application. ZenduIT, for example, has built a multitude of apps that take advantage to APIs offered by Geotab to utilize its GO7 telematics device. This is the same concept as Apple or Android making its software available to third-party developers to make apps. An API strategy allows your company to be more innovative. There is no reason for a fleet manager to burden him or herself with building an end-to-end closed system for tracking vehicles and workflows to maximize efficiency. Instead, APIs allow you to layer your expertise on top of the services provided by another company.

Who’s Already Taking Advantage of APIs?

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review compared APIs to the world wide web itself, as each opened up information to be shared at unprecedented rates. Walgreens found fantastic success after opening up its photo printing services to third party developers, and Expedia.com apparently earns 90% of its revenues through APIs. This trend is spreading to somewhat unexpected areas. IBM’s Watson cognitive computing technology seems like a perfect example of a proprietary technology that the company would want to hold close. Instead, IBM has opened access to Watson through APIs across the world and that has led to the technology being applied in exponentially more situations.

Why Have An API Strategy?

An API strategy can greatly improve a fleet manager’s experience, by giving them access to a wealth of data presented in an efficient way. For example, Geotab’s Software Development Kit allows third parties to develop apps that rely on GO7 logging records (position and speed), status data (vehicle measurements like tire pressure or oil temperature), and fault data (codes reported by the engine). This data can put pushed out to fleet managers through a customized interface developed by a company that is able to make better use of the data than Geotab alone. Customers want a personalized experience, and Geotab’s expertise in developing and delivering data can be augmented by other companies with experience presenting data to fleet managers in the most useful ways.

The Benefit of Open APIs

The benefit of open APIs for a company like Geotab is that other companies can help create new markets for Geotab services. Without having to pay its own developers, Geotab has fostered an entire community of apps that are aimed at making the most of the GO7 devices and the data they create. The marketplace contains solutions for heavy equipment tracking, delivery services, mechanics, driving coaches, and environmental engineers. Apps have been developed for niche issues like reducing idle time or finding the most efficient vehicle type in a certain fleet. These apps are mostly developed and are maintained by companies outside Geotab, but when each company is selling their app they are also implicitly selling Geotab as well.

As you think about how to best manage your fleet, consider using an API strategy to make the most of services offered by other companies.

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