When managers and executives work together to find ways to get more out of their BI tools, they often overlook one key area: data connections.
Most BI tools come with a set of in-built, first-party APIs that allow for easy integration with other systems and data sources. However, these APIs are often limited in functionality and flexibility.
Customized APIs can provide the perfect solution for getting more out of your BI tools. By working with a development team to create custom APIs, you can:
Access data from any source, including proprietary systems and data warehouses
Transform data into the format that best suits your needs
Leverage the full power of your BI toolset, including features that may be difficult to use with the out-of-the-box APIs
In short, customized APIs give you the ability to get exactly what you need from your BI tools—and nothing less. While they’re much more complicated than using out-of-the-box options, they can be useful for businesses that know what they’re doing.
If you’re interested in exploring the possibilities of custom APIs for your business, read on. This guide will cover the basics of custom APIs, including how they work and what they can do for your business.
Unlike out-of-the-box APIs, which are general-purpose and often limited in functionality, custom APIs are built from the ground up to provide the specific data access and transformation capabilities that you need.
Custom APIs can generally be built to connect to any other tool that has an API, including proprietary systems, data warehouses, and cloud-based data services. Once connected, data can be transformed into the format that best suits your needs—whether that’s JSON, XML, CSV, or something else entirely.
In addition to data access and transformation, custom APIs can also provide other capabilities, such as security features, rate limiting, and caching. These features can be particularly useful when working with large data sets or when integrating with other systems that have their own security requirements.
Why use custom APIs?
There are many reasons why you might want to use custom APIs with your BI tools. Here are just a few:
You need to connect to data sources not supported by the out-of-the-box APIs:
Older and outdated systems, tools for niche industries, and other unique tools are just a few examples of data sources that may not be supported by the out-of-the-box APIs for your BI tools. Custom APIs can provide the necessary connectivity to these data sources, giving you access to the data you need.
You need to transform data into a format not supported by the out-of-the-box APIs:
The out-of-the-box APIs for your BI tools may only support a limited set of data formats. If you need to transform data into a different format—such as JSON, XML, or CSV—then custom APIs can provide the necessary functionality.
You need to leverage the full power of your BI tools:
Most BI tools come with a wide range of features and capabilities. However, many of these features can be difficult or impossible to use with out-of-the-box APIs. Custom APIs can provide the necessary flexibility to make use of all of the features in your BI toolset.
You need to improve performance:
Custom APIs can be designed with performance in mind, making use of features such as caching and rate limiting to ensure that data is delivered as quickly as possible.
You need to meet unique security requirements:
Many businesses have strict security requirements that must be met when accessing and manipulating data. Custom APIs can be designed with these requirements in mind, providing the necessary security features to keep your data safe.
How customized APIs can benefit your business
One of the main benefits of using customized APIs is that they can automate tasks that would otherwise be manual.
For example, if you regularly send data from your BI tool to another software program for further analysis, you can use an API to automate that process. This saves you time and ensures that the data is transferred correctly.
In addition, customized APIs can provide real-time data updates. This is especially useful if you need to make decisions quickly or if the data is constantly changing.
For example, if you’re monitoring stock prices or weather patterns, you’ll want to be able to see updated information as it becomes available. With an API, you can automatically receive updated data to always have the most current information at your fingertips—no manual refreshing required.
Last but not least, customized APIs can help you save money. Many BI tools charge per user, so the costs can add up quickly if you have a large team of employees who need access to the tool.
However, you can create a single access point for all users with API integration. This reduces the number of licenses you need to purchase and makes it easier for users to access the data they need—win-win.
Custom APIs can provide the necessary functionality if you need to connect to data sources that are not supported by the out-of-the-box APIs or if you need to transform data into a different format.
How to get started with custom APIs
1. Decide what needs to be done
The first step in creating a custom API is deciding what needs to be done. What data do you need to access? What format does the data need to be in? What features and capabilities does your BI toolset require? Once you have a clear idea of what needs to be done, it will be much easier to create an API that meets your specific needs.
2. Choose the right technology stack
The next step is choosing the right technology stack for your API. This includes selecting the programming language(s), frameworks, and libraries needed to build your API. It’s important to choose technologies that you are comfortable working with and that will meet the requirements of your project.
3. Design the API structure
The third step is designing the structure of your API. This involves creating a list of all the endpoints that your API will need to support. Each endpoint should be designed to perform a specific task, such as retrieving data or updating a record.
4. Write the code
The fourth and final step is writing the code for your API. This includes defining the logic for each endpoint and writing the necessary code to make the API work. Once the code is written, you can test your API to make sure it works as expected.
Are there risks with using custom APIs?
While custom APIs can offer many benefits, there are also some risks to consider.
The first, and most important, risk is that custom APIs require outside experience and won’t have any support from your BI vendor. In most cases, you’ll be developing this API yourself, so if there’s a problem, you’ll only have yourself to blame.
This is why so many businesses prefer in-built and pre-built API connectors. Not only do they not require expensive technical expertise to implement, they also come with the full support of your BI vendor if something goes wrong.
The second risk is that the code may not be well written, which could lead to errors or security vulnerabilities. It’s essential to test your code thoroughly before putting it into production.
Third, using a custom API can add complexity to your system and increase the chances of something going wrong. This can be especially problematic if you do not have a strong technical team in place to support the API.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for ways to get more out of your BI tools, consider customization with APIs. The API integration can automate tasks, provide real-time data updates, and help reduce costs by eliminating the need for multiple user licenses.
Customized APIs are a great way to take your BI tools to the next level—and they don’t have to be difficult or expensive to create. With the right team in place, you can develop custom APIs that meet your specific needs and help you get the most out of your data.
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