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Automation through APIs Key to Efficient Workflows

Ryan Wolfe, Programmability Architect, Iron Bow Technologies

July 22, 2019  |  Networking

Imagine being an agency IT manager and having the tools you need for mission success at your disposal. The only problem? They don’t integrate with each other to create a simple, efficient workflow.

This problem isn’t uncommon in the federal government. With so many solutions from multiple vendors—all addressing different tasks essential to agency functions—they don’t always fit together seamlessly. While the individual products might be cutting edge, their effects won’t mean much if they can’t operate within the larger IT ecosystem that agencies have created over years of investment.

There is an answer that allows IT teams to have the creativity and flexibility to implement the best solutions and make sure they all work together in concert. Application programming interfaces, better known as APIs, are the instructional glue that holds disparate technologies together. To put it in even simpler terms, APIs allow applications to communicate with one another.

Take this example. An agency runs an application in one department to collect data on the number of people utilizing a government service. Another department within the same agency needs that data for an application meant to understand how to make the service better for those using it.

Rather than taking the time to compile and transfer reams of data, the agency could create a simple API so those two applications, working across different departments, could talk to each other and pull any information needed real time.

APIs offer another instrumental advantage for agencies beyond simply integrating workflows. They allow IT teams to automate process that would normally take precious time away from agency workers who are already stretched thin. With APIs, computers can manage the work, making processes quicker and more productive.

When access is provided to an API, data can be published automatically and is available to everyone who needs it. This allows data to be shared and distributed more easily and efficiently, without the aid of human intervention.

Back in February, I wrote about the importance of automation for the federal government. With inevitable budget cuts, IT automation offers a solution that can help agencies continue to accomplish more.

Shifting away from manual and inefficient processes cuts down on the need for federal workers to be online at all hours of the night and allows employees to spend time on tasks that require actual human intelligence. In fact, automation has become a visible enough benefit that it even made its way into the 2018 President’s Management Agenda. APIs will play a huge role in the push to great automation.

The best part is that APIs aren’t an all or nothing proposition. Agencies can test the waters by implementing APIs to automate smaller tasks first. Then, when the benefits are realized, they can move on to bigger projects.

While APIs can greatly simplify operations, understanding how to get started can be daunting.. At Iron Bow, we can help you find or develop the right APIs to integrate your applications. Beyond that, we’ll be here for you as your agency moves on to bigger and better uses for APIs and automation in general.

For more information on how Iron Bow can help, visit our website.

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