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Digital Ecosystem: Connect, Share, & Network Data With APIs

Saheed Opeyemi
April 5, 2021
Community

api ecosystem

Ever wondered if you, your supplier, your distributors, the industry compliance people, your customers, and every other person involved in making your business work could put yourselves inside the same digital network? And integrate your processes so that you don’t have to manually communicate and cooperate with each other? Well, you can. In fact, you probably already have a similar system in place, just not fully digitalized and integrated. The system we are referring to here is what is known as a digital ecosystem.

The number one function that makes a digital ecosystem thrive and sets it apart from other types of digital integration is the ability to smoothly transfer and engage data across different verticals and industries. Like you probably already know, the future of business belongs to those that can get data the fastest and use it best. McKinsey agrees; according to them, digital ecosystems could be generating up to 30% of global corporate revenue by 2025. This is a significant proclamation of the inherent value of digital ecosystems in creating multi-industry connectivity that smoothens business integrations and makes you more money.

However, building such a system is heavily dependent on an adequate system of data transfer and integration. Connecting different businesses across different industries will generate a lot of data; useful and useless. An inability to successfully parse this data and forward it to the right sections of the ecosystem will lead to a failure of the ecosystem (think global warming). In this article, we’ll explore the fundamentals of building a viable digital ecosystem, the necessary component to build a functional data transfer vehicle, and the benefits of building a digital ecosystem.

Table of Contents

What Is a Digital Business Ecosystem?

digital content ecosystem

Let’s throw it back to high school biology. An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (you, your distributors, your customers, suppliers, etc) and the nonliving components of their environment (your software and digital systems) interacting as a system for mutual benefit. Throw the word “digital” into that mix and you have a good understanding of what a digital ecosystem is. However, let’s define it in more “internet-like” terms.

The integration of data

A digital ecosystem is a large connection of systems, software and applications from an organization, its customers, developers, and external trading partners. This network of connected digital real estate functions as a data-driven digital vehicle that helps to drive inter-industry communication and cooperation at an unprecedented rate. Imagine if your systems were connected to that of your supplier and anytime you are low on supplies, they get an automatic notification. At full integration, a digital ecosystem functions as a single organism, with each component of the system working to improve the whole.

The digital ecosystem is a subset of the entire business ecosystem. While the terms, digital ecosystem and business ecosystem, are sometimes used interchangeably by the tech community, they actually differ. A digital ecosystem only accounts for a part of your entire business ecosystem, the part that deals with software and technology integration inside and outside your business.

Industry connection

Now, digital ecosystems differ from one industry to the other. And each industry has its own modus operandi for utilizing a digital ecosystem. For example, the digital health ecosystem operates by making sure all components of the ecosystem are in compliance with the standard requirements for privacy and data sharing. In the health space, patient confidentiality is very important. The digital health ecosystem allows sensitive data on patients to be tracked and controlled.

However, industry requirements notwithstanding, some things cut across the board in this game of inter-industry digital integration. To successfully create a smooth end-to-end flow within your digital ecosystem, there needs to be a subtle blending of data (from inside and outside your organization) into the entire system process from start to finish. In other words, your entire ecosystem has to be powered by data. How do you do this?

Sharing Data in a Digital API Ecosystem

Digital banking ecosystem

Just like plants take in carbon dioxide and return oxygen for animals to use, data needs to be shared in a digital ecosystem so as to get something back in return; revenue. In an ecosystem with participants from various industries, what is seen as useless data for one company might be very valuable to another. Therefore, proper data-sharing processes go beyond a necessity in the ecosystem, they are the entire point of building it. So how do you build a viable data-sharing vehicle? With APIs.

Application Programming Interface

APIs are the best way to request, extract and distribute data in this day and age. An API (Application Programming Interface) serves as an intermediary that allows software systems to communicate. Think of APIs like water in an aquatic ecosystem. Without it, the ecosystem can’t exist. With an API in place, organizations can share necessary data with other players within the larger digital ecosystem. In reality, APIs are the most functional part of digital ecosystems. In an eCommerce ecosystem, for example, using an API for Amazon product data helps you get access to product data from hundreds, even thousands of products at the click of a button.

Communication

Basically, APIs help set up communication channels between the various digital devices in the ecosystem. Another good example is a freelancing ecosystem. Major participants in this network include freelancers, freelance services platforms, in-house developers, payment platforms, communication services, etc but they all rely on the smooth transfer of data to operate properly. The freelancing platform uses an API to connect with a payment platform which connects with a bank’s API to make sure the freelancer gets their money when due. If the connection process is smooth, everyone in this network is satisfied.

Sharing data within a digital ecosystem is an opportunity for business expansion and sustainability. It is fast becoming a necessity in this digital age. With the presence of APIs, data sharing and integration is possible in any digital ecosystem. Without them, no digital ecosystem can stand. This goes to show the level of importance of sharing data.

Benefits of the Digital Ecosystem

Digital ecosystem management

Digital ecosystems, if properly utilized, have a lot of potential benefits to offer their participants. Some of the benefits include:

  • Reduced operating costs: Any business activity that is not directly related to producing your goods or selling to your customers has most likely been carried out by someone else. A digital ecosystem serves as a network for a reason. Rather than reinventing the wheel for every business process, you can take advantage of the work already done by others to speed up your own processes. If you are in the right ecosystem, there is a chance that everything you need is available from someone else. This means you don’t have to spend money, time and energy doing it yourself. This helps smoothen business processes at a reduced cost. In any digital ecosystem, there is always a member within the network who can provide what your business needs easily. The integration within the ecosystem will enhance efficient workflow and also improve the quality of relationships with partners and customers. It also reduces operational costs, thanks to the automated processes existing within the digital ecosystem.
  • Adoption of Technology: In a digital ecosystem, business organizations are willing to adopt new technology to help with complex activities. For example, cloud services for storage can be adopted, especially when a large volume of data is involved. The results gotten from using new technology enables you to keep up with the pace as advancement occurs. Generally, investing in a digital ecosystem implies a significant advancement in your digital integration efforts. This makes you become more receptive to the adoption of new technologies which makes you even more advanced digitally. Therefore it becomes a cycle of digital advancement that gives you an unbeatable technological edge in your industry. Coupled with the integrated data streams from your digital ecosystem API, you have the potential to become a giant in your industry.
  • Generation of New Sources of Revenue: The integration within the ecosystem creates new channels for revenue generation. It also allows organizations to track a wide range of data flowing through their business. The data can be used to create new products and services offering more value. Building a good business nowadays has gone beyond being a good businessman; you have to be a data-driven businessman. Investing in a good digital marketing ecosystem, for example, can help you identify different marketing channels being used by companies in similar industries to target their customers better. Or by investing in a digital banking ecosystem or a finance ecosystem, you can identify new ways to put your money to work for you.

Building a Digital Ecosystem Map With Scraping Robot

Digital health ecosystem

Considering the value of well-built APIs to the success of any digital ecosystem, it is a good idea to invest in a proper API first before developing a strategy for digital ecosystem management. There are several different APIs out there, some good, some bad and some just “meh,” but one of the best you could choose to invest in is Scraping Robot’s public scraping API, with good reason.

We’ve talked about how APIs can help you set up data transfer channels, but what if they could help you source for data too? Well, this API can. Our public API can easily integrate with any software and alongside our scraping software, help you extract data from any website on the internet and feed it directly into your analytics software where you can choose to share it with the rest of your ecosystem or simply integrate it into your business processes directly.

Multiple scraping models

With our scraping modules, you can extract just about any type of data, from product data to business data, contact data, financial data, search engine data, social media data and so much more. If you are invested in a digital content ecosystem, for example, you can use our Google scraping module to extract search engine data to help inform your content creation efforts.

Conclusion

Ecommerce ecosystem

An integrated digital ecosystem places organizations in a better position to operate and expand. It helps them serve their customers better, increase revenue, and also beat the competition. With proper planning and acceptance of a digital transformation strategy, the digital ecosystem can bring a lot of benefits to your business.