How a Fax API can save time and money by faxing directly from an application.
Whether you run IT for a small business or a large enterprise, APIs are playing an increasingly important role in your organization’s technology and communication infrastructure — or they should be. In this post we’ll discuss how APIs are used in your daily work routine and why they are so important to your organization. We will explain why a fax API is a great example of a highly valuable and relatively easy technology upgrade to consider implementing.
First, though, let’s quickly review what APIs are and how they work.
What is an API?
You can think of an API, or Application Programming Interface, as a bridge connecting two different pieces of software. It’s a communication protocol, a set of rules that allows one piece of software to work easily with another.
Even if you didn’t know what the term meant before reading that paragraph, you’ve been using APIs for years. It is an API, for example, that allows you to cut a block of text from a Microsoft® Word® document or a plain text file and paste it into a new Gmail message.
How Simple APIs Work
Here is one example of how a simple API works. When developers today create a piece of software or smartphone app, they often code their new application with an eye toward what other apps and tools their customers will be using to work with it. If they’re designing a photo-editing app, for example, the coders will probably want to make it easy for users to store their saved images on Google Drive. That means they’ll need to work with the Google APIs.
The way the coding community would describe it, APIs work on a traditional client-server relationship. Using our Google Drive example, the developers created the Google API’s “server” side, meaning the set of programming rules that other developers, like those creating the photo-editing app, would use to integrate their software, the API’s “client,” into Google when they need to.
This is one way Google Drive (and many other successful cloud apps) create enhanced value for their customers, and find new ones: Their APIs make their software easy for other applications and services to work with them — which in turn makes those applications more valuable to their customers.
How Web Service APIs Work
Now, what if an enterprise needs specific workflow functionality that its employees can complete only by using two or more disparate technologies or systems? An example of this would be employees regularly generating standard documents — purchase orders, for example — in their SAP® applications, but then having to fax hard copies of those purchase orders.
If the company uses standard desktop fax machines, this means an employee would have to save the purchase order to the computer, then print it, bring it over to the office fax machine, send the fax, and wait for a delivery confirmation printout — which the employee would then likely need to file in physical storage for auditing and record-keeping purposes.
In this case, a Web Service API can work wonders. This is an API typically used to create a bridge between two separate systems or machines that a business needs to work when performing a standard function — disparate technologies like SAP and a fax machine. Now what is a fax API?
The Web Service fax API from eFax Corporate, called eFax Developer™, allows businesses to build fax functionality directly into many of the business workflow applications their employees use every day — including ERP systems like SAP, CRM platforms such as Salesforce, and, for businesses in the healthcare industry, Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems.
With a fax API built into SAP, the employee now generates a purchase order — and simply opens the fax interface, attaches the SAP file (which the fax service will translate into a TIFF or PDF for transmitting), and sends it to the recipient. This all happens within the SAP platform — no printing, no telephone line, no fax machine or fax server. Moreover, with the eFax Corporate fax API, the sender will automatically receive an email notification upon successful delivery of the fax.
The Increasing Value of APIs for Businesses in the Cloud Era
APIs, and Web Service APIs in particular, can serve as a major source of business for cloud vendors. As the Harvard Business Review reports in its article “The Strategic Value of APIs, Salesforce.com generates 50% of its revenue through APIs. The article explains that in Salesforce.com’s app marketplace, called AppExchange, more than 300 companies have contributed apps that work with the Salesforce.com platform. (Note: the free eFax Developer™ software developer kit (SDK) allows for cloud faxing customization and integration into your system. (You can also purchase the Salesforce.com Fax App from RS Fax & eFax Corporate here.)
Given the number of cloud services and apps in use today, and how many such tools businesses use every day to accomplish their tasks, you can imagine how difficult it would be for a business to function at optimum levels without APIs linking one piece of business software with another. Businesses of all sizes and in virtually every industry would need to employ full-time programmers to build this bridging code for the various pieces of software that they need to use together to perform their jobs.
Indeed, many larger and more mature businesses are suffering from this very problem today. As Fortune points out in its article “Why APIs Will Save Your Business from Getting ‘Uber-ed,’” pulling together all of these business functions consumes massive amounts of corporations’ resources. “Companies are currently spending more than $590 billion per year to integrate existing, disparate systems,” the article explains.
But, the article notes, you can “eliminate much of this friction, time and cost by building solutions with best-of-breed components” — for example, by using APIs. In other words, when a company discovers a new API — one that can streamline its workflows by linking two previously separate business functions — the business can realize significant productivity and cost-cutting benefits.
One such example is a fax API.
The Fax API: Helping Businesses Get More Value from Existing Platforms
By allowing easy integration into just about any application platform, the XML-based eFax Developer fax API allows businesses to extend the use and the ROI of many of the systems they use every day.
Indeed, with this fax API — along with the SDKs, libraries of sample code and Universal User Guide included with it — even your most novice developer or programmer will find it quick and easy to integrate cloud-faxing functionality into your company’s systems.
Sending faxes directly from a productivity app, using a fax API:
Receiving faxes directly within a productivity app, using a fax API:
But Are Fax APIs Secure?
Of course, the added convenience and enhanced employee productivity of a fax API would be valuable to your business only if that API were at least as secure as the other means of transmitting faxes. The security concerns of sending company data unsecured — particularly proprietary or regulated data — would outweigh the benefits of being able to fax by email directly from your workflow applications.
The eFax Developer Fax API, from eFax Corporate
With eFax Developer, faxes transmitted via the fax API through the cloud are in fact more secure than any other means of fax transmission. That is because eFax Corporate uses the most advanced security and encryption protocols available for faxes in transit over the Internet. Additionally, we also use the most sophisticated security protocols for a business’s faxes at rest — in storage online after they have been either sent or received. That is why eFax Corporate is the world’s leading cloud faxing solution preferred by the majority of Fortune 500 corporations.
Learn more about the eFax Developer fax API and download our free fax API software developer kit.