What’s an API?

An API is a service that companies provide to enable outside programmers to integrate certain aspects of the company’s system into other applications.

APIs are a part of all software systems today. If you’ve ever made a purchase online, used your Facebook account to log into another website, or gotten an automatic text reply, then you’ve had experience with APIs. Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Telzio all use multiple APIs for different purposes.

APIs can be used by the public to engage with a system, and they can be used by organizations for internal purposes. For example, Telzio offers a public API for organizations to integrate their communications platform with other business applications. Internally, we use the APIs of other companies, like Google and Stripe, to optimize some of our operating processes.


Why do companies love APIs?

Companies make APIs available to spread use of their product. By integrating one system with another, users can make use of a service without being in the application itself.

Telzio’s API enables you to send updates on missed calls and new text messages to your Slack channels, allowing users to view phone activity without being on their phones or the Dashboard.

Similarly, you can integrate your Telzio service with your CRM software, enabling agents to click on a contact directly from the CRM to start dialing, or view customer information in real time as calls are received. You can achieve the CRM integration using:

  • Telzio’s API, which requires a developer to build your integration;
  • Telzio’s integration with Zapier, which enables non-developers to integrate Telzio with thousands of other popular apps; and
  • Telzio’s direct CRM integration with VTiger, which comes with a built-in webphone and click-to-call capabilities.

APIs are awesome because they can take a product almost anywhere, giving it infinitely more potential to be used in more places, and giving anyone the opportunity to create unique solutions with your tools.

If you can imagine it, you can probably get it done with APIs. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, a simple integration through Zapier could be the best way to connect Telzio to your other business apps. For more complex customizations, you can build something using the Telzio API.


How do APIs work?

APIs provided by Telzio and other companies enable immediate exchange of information. It’s through this channel of communication that two separate systems are able to work together. Telzio’s API can be used to capture certain information you want to deliver to another application, from call activity to call recordings.

Different APIs can be used to tap into different parts of a system and provide access only to specific information. So when you use Telzio’s API to integrate with your CRM system, the API only delivers the relevant call information needed to perform the desired task.

As this YouTuber explains:

APIs unlock one section of a tool without giving away all the source code.


How do we use APIs at Telzio?

Then there are behind-the-scenes APIs, used internally within organizations.

At Telzio, APIs enable us to use the newest and very best technologies out there to enhance various aspects of our highly multi-faceted system. While the Telzio platform itself is developed in-house, we outsource individual components where it makes sense.

Here are a few examples of how we use APIs at Telzio.

Speech Recognition

Take Voicemail Transcription for example, which we built using Google’s Cloud Speech API. When a voicemail is received, Google’s API analyzes the audio file and enables us to deliver you a text version of the message. As speech recognition technology advances, we have the ability to offer it to our customers without doing the heavy lifting or straying from our core competency.

Phone Number Registry

If you’ve ever browsed for phone numbers on our site, you’ve seen our carriers’ APIs in action. By connecting to the APIs of the largest carriers around the world, our system allows you to instantly search and register phone numbers from over 60 countries.

Shipping

Even the good old USPS has an API. Telzio uses APIs in our shop to get up-to-date shipping rates from USPS, FedEx, and UPS. When you add an IP phone to your cart, we send data about the package (i.e. weight, size) to receive a list of shipping options and prices. When an order is placed, we use the APIs to automate the shipping and tracking process.


Working with APIs for Your Business

While APIs can be found just about everywhere, not all APIs are equally easy to work with. Some companies have their own public APIs, built by developers who are hired to program an API just like you’d program a website. For some companies, their product is an API, like Stripe and Twilio. In any case, all companies can benefit from using APIs within their business operations.

To integrate your phone system with your other business applications using Telzio’s API, you need an IT partner who can code in the right language. Telzio CEO, Peter Schroeder says:

REST APIs and JSON are clearly defined modern standards, so it’s very easy for a programmer to work with. SOAP was the first standardized format when APIs were becoming popular in the early 2000s, but it’s a horrible way to write APIs.

If hiring a developer is not an option, check out Telzio’s integration with Zapier, which offers API access for non-developers. The idea behind Zapier is that different products integrate with Zapier, exposing some (or all) of the features offered by their APIs, and you can route data between those products using Zapier as the middleman. In short, developers create APIs, send them to Zapier, and Zapier spits it out in a form non-developers can digest. While this method does come with some limitations, it can be ideal for basic use.

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Lata is part of the marketing team at Telzio, and uses her in-depth understanding of business VoIP to contribute education about VoIP phone systems to the Telzio blog. Her experience includes creating technical documentation and guides on complex telecommunication systems for Avaya and IBM. Currently based in Barcelona, Lata has a Bachelor's degree in computer science and Master's in English.