Why APIs are Critical to Customer Experience in "The Last Mile"

As more devices become connected, consumers want more capabilities in their smartphones, houses and cars. APIs make that happen.

Technology can provide people with many conveniences at work and at home via connected devices and smart software, but the ultimate success of all this connectivity depends on how great the customer experience is in “The Last Mile.”

Borrowing from the telecommunications industry, all efforts to build out infrastructure—spending billions—is lost if customers can’t get service when and where they want. For software vendors in today’s digital economy, that essentially means apps, products and services must work wirelessly as well on a smartphone or tablet or even now in a car as they do in a more traditional wired and connected environment.

The Last Adopter

Recently Lewis Black detailed how much can be done in a car that has nothing to do with driving, all thanks to software. And for the comedian and social commentator, the idea of a horse and buggy sounds more appealing than a fully connected car, which today could have up to some 40 processors working in concert to bring all the driver’s preferences at work and home into the driver’s seat.

Ahmed Mahmoud, CIO at General Motors, a 109-year-old company that is successfully keeping pace with consumer demand, likes knowing that each car carrying a family member is equipped with OnStar. For Mahmoud, that is no longer a nice-to-have feature; it is mandatory for his family’s safely and his personal peace of mind. Others may require seamless streaming of audio books, podcasts and music for the regular commutes, and others might want to check into work while traveling. With the help of technology, these tasks that once could only be completed in a fixed location, can now be done on the drive. 

Software Behind the Scenes

Connected cars represent just one way software integrates into individual’s everyday life, and it’s a prime example of how companies today are taking advantage of APIs and Microservices are bridging the last mile for companies and their customers.

Using modern application architectures, companies like GM are able to leave behind slow-moving monolithic apps and move toward dynamic, responsive software that lets companies adopt a “built-to-change” approach and perhaps more important, lets customers decide the experience they want.

In essence, the ultimate goal of the connected devices and the software working behind the scenes is to simplify tasks for consumers. That level of ease-of-use and customer experience on the surface belies the complexity behind the scenes of APIs, microservices and more software components working hard to deliver the desired outcome.

Why APIs?

For companies looking to break down barriers within their development environments, increase internal innovation by allowing external experts to contribute and simply speed more relevant and useful software to customers, APIs and microservices are essential building blocks in their modern software factory.

To start, APIs break down silos and open data, providing reusable interfaces and accelerating development. They also help companies deliver omnichannel experiences by connecting silos of data and delivering consistent experiences across web, mobile and devices connected via the Internet of Things. APIs also enabled more partnerships with developers, which in turn can speed new features to customers.

So while Lewis Black is pining for simpler technological times, today’s consumers are seeking simplicity made possible with software. APIs and microservices are the tools companies need to build the software consumers want. And as soon as consumers are able to enjoy the optimal customer experience companies are striving to deliver with the software featured on these connected devices, they will never want to take a drive down technology memory lane.

Rahim Bhatia
By Rahim Bhatia | September 27, 2017