Using APIs to Strengthen Your Enterprise Social Network

It is estimated that by 2013, 75% of businesses will dump email as their internal collaboration platform and adopt an Enterprise Social Networking Tools as their collaboration tool of choice. A significant milestone was also set in 2011 when the worldwide revenue of Social Collaboration Networks surpassed $769 Million. As more businesses follow suit, serious consideration should be taken regarding using APIs and the open APIs offered from many viable alternatives. Even if your organization is not planning on extending your chosen Enterprise Social Networking Tools out-of-box feature set by using APIs, there is a sound argument that the API set is becoming the defining characteristic of top social networks.

Why Choose an Enterprise Social Networking Tools With Open APIs

  • Legacy software integration.
  • Future integration.
  • Application-level customization.

APIs create flexible integration possibilities for your Enterprise Social Network. Using APIs becomes essential when designing a custom workflow to meet the demands of your seasoned business culture. From rolling up all communication to your centralized intranet hub to analyzing the communication that gets created across your organization, you need a way to extend the out-of-box experience of your social network. Enterprise Social Networking Tools that expose robustly, well documented, easy-to-use Developer API’s will fully meet the unique needs of your organization.

Enterprise Social Networking Tools - Using APIs

What Can You Do With APIs?

APIs push and pull communication and information to and from your central communication hub. You decide how to interject external content into your network by using APIs. Whether it’s from RSS feeds you subscribe to, monitored email inboxes, online forums, or any other form of electronic communication. APIs draw in that information to be circulated to your organization. Alternately, APIs can push content from your network to other services, websites or partner networks.

First, a common need for an API is to move content from an external source into your Enterprise Social Networking Tool. Moving content means the API must support pushing content into the system. Next, pulling the content out of your network is the most commonly supported API. The caveat is whether all types of content that can be added by a user can be pulled out by an API. If the extent of content that can be retrieved is too limited, the utility of the API is diminished.

The ability to construct a custom analysis of user data extracted from your network is often an enhancement goal accomplished from Open APIs. The amount and format of the raw data will shape the data analysis that is possible by API data mining. In addition to any content archival and export possible from within the application, formatting data for existing archive application or data migration is usually a goal attained through APIs. This goal is also best attained by an API set that can deliver the most comprehensive results.

What to Look for in Open APIs

The API architecture should conform to the Representational State Transfer (REST) design model. Key advantages of REST APIs include security, scalability, and modular design. The API is only as good as its documentation. Clear syntax details and coding examples that will speed the time in development are one of the most important factors when considering any API.

Next, since you’ll be sending server requests and receiving responses, look for an API that represents data structures in standardized, human-readable data interchange formats such as JSON or XML. Both JSON and XML are widely-used application media types. Some APIs support ATOM and SOAP formats which come with additional data typing. Supporting any of the four mentioned media types will help leverage pre-existing libraries in your development environment. The API request-response data transfer must also be over SSL/TLS connections and require challenge-response authentication handshake to ensure complete information privacy.

What If I Don’t Have Custome Requirements?

You should still consider the API offering of the Enterprise Social Networking Tools you choose to be prepared for unforeseen integration needs in the future. Networks with an API set is an indicator acknowledging that custom enterprise integration needs exist. Open APIs demonstrate the complex needs of Enterprise Social Networking. Out-of-the-box MangoApps comes integrated with over 30 systems including Active Directory, SharePoint, Siebel CRM, Documentum, Dropbox, and others as well as an extensive set of restful APIs making it easy to integrate other enterprise systems.