Thousands of companies of all shapes and sizes use SAP ERP, across all industries and verticals. One thing they have in common is the desire to move to digital, to increase business agility, overcome silos, and gain the freedom to offer services based on interactions with their SAP systems that simply aren’t possible otherwise.
While digital transformation can open up many doors, it can be time-consuming and challenging to get right. SAP customers today face a complicated challenge. APIs are the basis for every digital transformation; however, if you build them using on-premises products such as SAP PI or Gateway, it limits your future cloud-readiness since they cannot be transferred to the cloud as is.
APIs in the cloud – it’s possible
It is possible to build APIs in the cloud today, using new integration products, but this option requires a steep learning curve in a new world of technology. To get there, you would either need to already be using cloud-based SAP (i.e. S/4 Hana) or connect your older on-premises solution to the cloud. The latter is a complex procedure, and most companies are just not there yet; in fact, it is not surprising that SAP has extended its end-of-support deadline for non-cloud-based SAP to 2027 in response to customer pressure.
Fortunately, there’s an alternative. A way to build APIs that is quick, requires no coding and supports both on-premises and cloud deployment. It is called “API as a Service” and it is a low-code API generation model that works like a subscription for a stock image site where you have access to a huge repository of images that you can use as is or customize. With API as a Service, you can access whichever API you need for any purpose you like, whenever you like. API as a Service cuts out the time-consuming, skill-centric processes inherent in most SAP integration projects, removing obstacles to success and turning APIs into a transformation enabler.
APIs can maximize your business success
For many enterprises, SAP ERP is the engine driving their business forward. When it’s connected with the rest of the business ecosystem through APIs, it’s possible to:
- Enable day to day processes, like allowing a new customer to check their own health records online
- Increase efficiency, for example by enabling salespeople visiting a customer in the field to check inventory levels on their phone, or managers on the factory floor to view availability of certain parts
- Offer the online services that customers increasingly expect as standard, such as online registration, digital kiosks for ordering products, tracking order status, etc.
- Connect with new partners to maximize your business offerings
- Increase transparency into your business by allowing customers to follow the progress of their order, including each step of the manufacturing process
- Improve your business’ bottom line by revealing cost efficiencies
- Align production with demand by keeping a closer eye on procurement and production
SAP ERP has been around for a long time and businesses have been connecting it with other systems for years using different ESB products. iDOCs are still widely used to exchange data. However, many companies are finding that ESBs are increasingly inadequate for the rapidly changing digital landscape. Instead, they’re turning to agile, modern API-based solutions that give them the flexibility and adaptability they need to remain competitive.
It is possible to build APIs using various on-premises products such as SAP PI or SAP Gateway. These all demand multiple handoffs between separate developer teams that make the process longer and introduce more potential for errors. It can take three to six weeks to develop the integration this way, plus extra time to QA and troubleshoot. Moreover, APIs developed for on-premises use in this way cannot be moved to the cloud, making them impractical for any business that wants to future-proof their strategy. With so many considerations and limitations companies often lose the desire to innovate
The business world has moved on from these old-fashioned methodologies. It’s time to remove the complexity surrounding API tools and make them just as accessible as SaaS solutions, speeding up the process to allow for true innovation – using API as a Service.
API as a Service drives innovation
Imagine a vast online catalog of SAP Standard RFCs ready to use as REST APIs. Like SaaS solutions, they come fully populated with built-in authentication, real-time monitoring and testing tools, and all the functionality you could need to support production level throughput. You simply turn on or off the relevant features – similar to implementing Salesforce – customize them to your needs, and deploy them to the cloud or download them for on-prem use in a single click.
API as a Service removes the need to coordinate multiple teams, flattens the learning curve, and enables every enterprise to build an API with a click of a button and run it in the cloud. Every API you might ever need is either pre-configured or can easily be customized to your needs and ready for installation on premises or in the cloud.
It’s called API as a Service because you can pull them on demand, just like every other “as a Service” option, without specialist in-house resources, skillsets like Basis resources, Gateway Abap expertise, or external experts to get your API project moving. All the expensive developer resources are already created and ready to go.
The key to innovation is to experiment with every possibility and fail fast, so that you can move on to the next idea. API as a Service opens the door to experimenting with new services or floating ideas.
How API as a Service drives business success
Here are some of the amazing things that have been achieved by customers of The APIworks, which provides API as a Service specifically for SAP users.
- A steel manufacturing plant connected their SAP Quality Assurance with data from the plant manufacturing database.
- A mechanical and industrial engineering company connected their SAP with their own self-developed manufacturing production management solution written in .NET.
- An automotive manufacturer was able to generate 14 APIs to connect their SAP HCM module with a new internal (non-SAP, non-Fiori) mobile application and prepare it for deployment to the cloud or on premises within 11 days, with no special developer skills needed. The client commented, “We have 30 API integration projects at any given time. We have SAP PI and SAP Gateway in production, but with APIs as a Service, we were able to innovate faster.”
API as a Service frees your innovation
A great number of businesses need a way to connect SAP ERP systems, but their current options are too expensive and time-consuming, result in too much latency, and/or require too much inter-team coordination. APIs as a Service are the better choice. They are simple and fast to deploy; remove complexity within the system; save costs in both resources and developer hours; cut the risks of errors; and future-proof your system.
With API as a Service, you can be creative and experiment without fear of failure until you arrive at the results you need in far less time and with less money than you thought possible. With greater innovation and agility, companies can become more customer-centric, more innovative, and faster moving, supporting business growth across every industry.