The 4 use cases for webhook APIs

The use of webhooks is on the rise so in this blog I thought I would take a closer at the use cases where webhook APIs add value and therefore why you need a webhook API strategy for your product or integration architecture.

Webhook API Management

Before we jump into the use cases, let’s define what we mean by a webhook API solution or more broadly what a webhook API management solution is. This is how we define what features a webhook API management solution should have at a base level:

  • webhook API design tool – it starts with first being able to design your API using a specification like the ASYNC API specification. Once the specification is ready it should be possible to deploy it with one click so that your API consumers can discover and subscribe.
  • developer portal – a developer portal that allows your API consumers to discover what webhooks you have to offer, allow them to understand the schema of the webhooks and the security requirements.
  • subscription management – give your API consumers the ability to test out the webhooks, subscribe to them, and then manage their subscriptions.
  • manage exceptions – you need to give your API consumers the ability to manage the exceptions that will occur, for example, system downtime of the API consumers callback URL. Your webhook management solution should provide retry strategies to ensure intermittent outages are managed seamlessly and have the ability for your API consumers to inspect errors and resend messages if required.
  • event authorization – sometimes you want to broadcast events, other times you only want specific subscribers to receive the data. This granular control should be supported by your webhook API solution.
  • security – your webhook management solution needs to meet the security requirements of your business. Check out our Securing your webhook API – the 13 requirements you need to know to understand the requirements your webhook API management solution should support.

If you are new to webhook APIs you can check out some of our recent blog posts including What is a webhook?, API Design First with webhook APIs, and Securing your webhook API – the 13 requirements you need to know.

Next-generation B2B API Gateway

Did you know that Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) using standards, such as EDIFACT, has been around for more than 30 years? That it is still the most prominent technology used in B2B integration? You might be thinking this is because they must have got EDI right at the time, a simple, perfect solution for exchanging electronic data between businesses, nothing more to do… well… not really.

EDI still exists today as the most prominent technology used in B2B because there has simply been no compelling reason to change, to adopt newer technology. EDI is obscure and not simple to work with, most developers would prefer not to work with EDI. Implementing new EDI flows takes months and onboarding new partners onto existing EDI flows takes weeks.

XML and web services came but the benefits that they brought were not compelling enough to change. The business value was not there to migrate – the cost of integrating was still the same.

Now APIs are here and finally, there is a compelling reason to upgrade. APIs with self-service, discoverable developer portals combined with the simplicity of JSON and HTTP now provide a compelling business case. However, we are NOT referring here to your REST APIs which are good for building new portals and apps. We are referring to webhook APIs which are event-driven, just like your B2B processes.

Using webhook APIs enable your suppliers to self-serve. In the past, if you had to upgrade your suppliers to a more modern technology you would have to run a migration project supporting your suppliers to switch over one by one or group by group. With a webhook API, you can provide your suppliers with a link to your developer portal. Let them self-serve their subscription to your data and let them migrate at their own speed. New suppliers can get integrated faster due to the self-service and simpler technology. The IT costs needed as a provider go significantly down as there are no activities that you need to do to set up the connection with the new supplier.

In short, using webhook APIs for B2B integration makes sense and there are tangible benefits over legacy technologies.

Master data synchronisation

If your system manages master data then one of its primary jobs is to share that information with all the systems that depend on it. Webhook APIs are a perfect fit here with once again tangible benefits over traditional integration techniques.

Just imagine you are implementing a new system that needs product master data. In the past, you have to find an expert who knows the integration capabilities of your PLM tool, set up a project to integrate your new system, work out what integration technique should be used, etc, etc.

Now imagine your company has a developer portal that makes its event-driven webhook APIs discoverable. Within minutes you have set up a subscription and have data flowing. Yes, there is still some work to do to map that data into your system but the lead time has been significantly reduced.

That is not the only benefit. As the provider of the webhook API, you can see all consumers of your data and when setting up new consumers your development team doesn’t need to get involved.

Enable more process automation

With your webhook APIs discoverable and self-service you are also enabling innovation in process automation. Suddenly it’s much easier to get access to real-time events in the organization. As a result, there are more opportunities to automate processes and faster.

Take an example of a distribution event – a shipment has been sent. That event can be subscribed to from your ERP system because you want to start the invoicing, it can be subscribed to from your warehouse management system to update the status of inventories. Your customer can subscribe to get the update. The logistics company can subscribe to it to update their systems. Your track and trace solution can subscribe to it to monitor the transport. Your project management solution can subscribe to it to prepare the installation.

Once again as a provider of the event, you can get access to see all the different systems that received your data.

The benefits here double up. If you are automating cheaper and faster than in the past and you are automating more as a result then the business case starts to look very healthy.

Making your business smarter

Real-time business intelligence requires real-time events. With fast and easy access to real-time events through webhook APIs, you can start making your business smarter.

Let’s take an example of a logistics company that could provide a service to its customers to get real-time events including exception events during transport. A customer could quickly and easily subscribe to the events using a webhook API and use the information to on the fly re-plan movements of goods based on need and the events that occur. Reducing the costs of challenges in the logistics process.

We all know that information is power, so by providing your real-time events within your business in a single portal, that enables authorized access to set up subscriptions, you are providing the foundation for a smart and agile organization.

Conclusion

In this blog article, I’ve highlighted four use cases that would benefit from a webhook API strategy and webhook API management solution. In each of these use cases, there is significant business value to be gained.

If you are looking for a webhook API management solution that can give your business the edge check out webhookie. It’s webhook API infrastructure out of the box that will scale to your needs.

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