The trend of Cloud & APIs refers to the expanding operational integration of cloud computing, using web-based software services to store and exchange data online instead of using on-premise hard drive solutions. Further it includes application programming interfaces (APIs) which are software protocols that allow software services and applications to communicate with each other and exchange data and functionalities in real time.
Because APIs allow companies to open up access to their resources while maintaining security and control, they have become a valuable aspect of modern business. Some popular examples of application programming interfaces include Open Authorization (using Facebook, Twitter or Google to quickly authenticate the user), third-party payment processing (eg. PayPal), and location services (eg., routing option to nearest retail location via Google Maps).
Popular API examples include third-party payment processing such as Paypal, providing location services such as directing people to the nearest retail store via Google Maps, or using an open authorization framework (OAuth) to authenticate users via their Facebook, Twitter, or Google account through third-party providers.
In 2021 alone, companies delivering their main value proposition via an API (or by using an API) raised 5 billion USD in funding. As an example, the financial services company Stripe began as an API with just seven lines of code and went on to partner with many of the biggest enterprises in the world; it has diversified to offer loans and corporate cards, and was recently valued at 36 billion USD.
In the logistics industry, as well, the need for connecting to partners along the value chain and exchanging real-time data is increasing as well. Applications range from generating shipping labels to tracking shipments and returns.
With the increasing need and value of exchanging data between functions, operations, companies, and end users, it is expected that cloud computing and APIs will grow in the next 1 to 3 years. Especially in the area of e-commerce, there are good prospects for APIs in the implementation of an integrated omnichannel strategy and the assimilation of detailed track-and-trace information from logistics service providers into e-retailer websites.
This trend is likely to have only a low impact on logistics; while it will support day-to-day operations and improve the customer experience, it is more likely to be classified as an enabling technology.