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IT pros share API deployment challenges, offer insights

Communications APIs promise quick and easy deployments, but this new technology has its challenges. Three IT professionals share their API deployment experiences.

When Gerson Lehrman Group, a professional learning and networking company, sought to provide accurate call records and billing to meet the compliance needs of the various organizations that subscribed to its service, the company turned to APIs.

The company deployed communications APIs from Twilio and Plivo, said Will Ballard, CTO at GLG, based in New York. But the organization soon hit roadblocks with its international calling coverage. Ballard said Twilio has good coverage in North America and Europe, but it's lacking coverage in mainland China. The organization turned to a third-party provider for toll-free forwarding to extend Twilio's API, which resulted in poor call quality for users.

Deploying a communications API goes beyond the technology. The success of an API deployment also hinges on the planning, personnel and resources available to organizations. Developer kits, API documentation and support, for example, are key factors in selecting an API vendor.

"APIs tend to be a consistent experience -- it's what's around that experience that's important," said Iain Scholnick, CEO of Braidio, a collaborative learning platform for businesses based in San Francisco.

Scholnick, Ballard and Ian Cabalse, an operations analyst at Naked Wines in Napa, Calif., shared their experiences with communications API deployments last week at Enterprise Connect 2017 in Orlando, Fla. The IT pros offered advice for organizations looking to deploy APIs into their applications and services to streamline communication processes.

Braidio has deployed APIs from Genband's Kandy communications platform as a service, so employees can use the learning platform with everyday workflows, Scholnick said.

Cabalse said the online wine retailer deployed APIs to embed communications into its customer relationship management app so employees wouldn't have to toggle among apps to communicate. Naked Wines chose Twilio's SMS APIs due to the vendor's extensive documentation and RingCentral's voice APIs due to its support team, Cabalse said.

"Finding a team that will give dedicated time and resources is extremely valuable," he said.

Preparing for API deployment challenges

Organizations must do their due diligence and prepare themselves for any bumps on the deployment road.

Finding a team that will give dedicated time and resources is extremely valuable.
Ian Cabalseoperations analyst at Naked Wines

To ensure a consistent experience across geographic locations and to avoid the quality issues GLG faced, Ballard said to carefully vet the global reach of potential API providers.

"If you have to serve different geographical markets, find an integrated provider who can cover them all, rather than piece together [with different services]," he said.

Finding the right vendor is another challenge for communications API deployments. Cabalse said most vendors offer the same capabilities at competitive pricing. So, organizations should meet with vendors face to face to determine business goals and potential outcomes.

"Partner with the right people and tell them what your needs are," he said. "If they don't have it built, a good company will test with you to come up with something."

Organizations should focus on personnel, support, feedback and documentation with their API vendor to address any potential deployment challenges, Scholnick said.

"It's new technology, [so] you will run into issues," he said. "Make sure you solve them together."

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