The ABCs of APIs and ERP

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are the lifeblood of many companies. Since the Gartner Group first coined the term in the 1990s, ERP has evolved from its base of managing manufacturing operations to business processes in general, ranging from procurement and supply chain management to areas such as human resources, sales and customer service.

Application programming interfaces, or APIs for short, play a central role in ERP systems nowadays. In this article, we take a look at how API tools – including ours and others – extend the power of your business automation platforms.

What APIs do for you

If you have a satellite radio in your car, you know that it serves as a portal to hundreds of stations, curated by a service provider. In much the same way, APIs serve as a portal between your ERP system and external applications and data resources, particularly cloud-based ones.

In the case of ERP systems, API interfaces play a number of important roles: according to this article, common applications include things like real-time dashboard visualization of ERP data, E-commerce capabilities, mobile applications, and much more.

As the ERP market itself has continued to expand, with a projected market size of US $47 billion by 2022, major players such as SAP, Epicor, Sage and others have truly become a base for enterprise-wide software capabilities.

All of this happens because of a capability that lies at the core of APIs: the ability to pass data and add capabilities from external applications to your in-house automation platforms. In the process, API tools can save massive amounts of programming, add capabilities that would be impossible for most businesses to develop in-house, and – perhaps most importantly – greatly extend the functionality of your software tools.

An example of APIs and ERP: FastTax

Recently two of our customers implemented our DOTS FastTax sales tax API in their ERP systems, for very different reasons:

  • California-based AdvancedWare Corporation provides E-commerce capabilities for customers who use legacy ERP systems.
    • Accurate tax calculations are central to the service they provide to their clients, and they replaced a previous tax solution for the express purpose of improving their quality and response times. According to AdvancedWare’s President, Michael Serrato, “[Our] motto is delivering exceptional services and software every time, and our level of service is what differentiates us from our competition. Our customers look to AdvancedWare to be their one-stop custom eCommerce platform, and FastTax is an important part of that solution.”
  • Georgia’s TenCate Geosynthetics is the world’s largest provider of geosynthetics and industrial fabrics.
    • In their case, escalating support costs for a legacy tax solution on an aging system led them to try their first API-based interface with a cloud-based solution like FastTax. According to Steve Huster, TenCate’s global IT director, this turned out to be a very painless implementation process: “if there’s a company out there running a legacy technology and they want to take advantage of cloud-based capabilities, there’s no technical reason they shouldn’t pursue it.”

In general, clients turn to API-based products because they need rapid solutions to pressing data quality problems such as improving deliverability, maximizing the ROI of their contact data assets, or increasingly, ensuring compliance with a growing range of consumer data privacy legislation such as the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) or the European Union’s strict new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Learn more about APIs for your ERP

We are always happy to discuss your specific ERP system needs: contact our friendly and knowledgeable technical team anytime to learn more about adding value to your business automation platform.

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