BBVA API Market
Any application that runs on the Internet depends on APIs (application programming interface) for its proper operation. From Facebook to Uber, and even Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner, they all communicate constantly with one or several of these interfaces.
Although the API of the cleaning apparatus is closed, an increasing number of tools are opening this sort of technological window to third parties to improve the services offered to users. The strategy is particularly useful for messaging apps, because their chats are home for bots, small programs that respond to the user’s commands and cater to their requests.
While big names like WeChat or Facebook Messenger have already become such ecosystems, there is another one that stands out for its success and for being a pioneer in the world of interactions: Slack. The popular corporate communication platform allows employees of a company to talk among themselves, organize meetings, share documents and contact directly with external services through the same chat.
Currently, Slack includes 600 applications with varied functions, including Dropbox, Twitter and Zendesk. It also allows users to synchronize all their devices to offer an integrated communication environment.
Its API, the Heart of the Platform
Without neglecting the quality of the service offered, one of the keys to its success is the design and features of its API, developed with care and updated often to integrate new features. Thanks to the communication between its interface and those of the applications it englobes, platform users can enjoy many products from a single counter.
Its progress since its launch last year has been steady, evolving in its efforts to revolutionize the way we work. Last March, the company of voice-recognition interfaces, API.ai joined the club of the platform. Both developers and users with no programming experience can, ever since, create an intelligent bot, able to understand voice commands.
Since June, Slack offers new options: it includes for the first time 13 buttons, in applications such as Greenhouse (human resources), travel website Kayak and Trello, a useful task management tool. Thus, with a single click, users can manage job offers and candidates applications, book a flight or create a board with tasks, as part of a chat conversation.
It began as a function restricted to a few companies, but ultimately its leaders decided to open the door to all members of the technology community. The platform has launched a new API so that any application integrated into its ecosystem can build its own button.
A Tool to Manage Them All
The summer has also brought a new option for the management teams of the Slack groups in companies. They will now be able to manage which apps will be available to employees, restricting some of them thanks to the above-described buttons. For example, if one of the workers wants to use one tool, after looking for it in the directory, he or she will eventually click on a tab to request its installation. At that point, the person in charge of administration will receive an alert and will then be able to decide whether to accept or deny such request, again by clicking on the option chosen.
Another advantage for developers and companies using the platform is that they can create their own custom-made bot with a toolkit called BotKit, provided by the company behind Howdy, another inhabitant of the platform’s ecosystem. It is a sort of an instruction book that contains basic code samples to build custom programs.
In case someone thinks that the family is too small, Slack has its own investment fund (Slack Fund), dedicated to promoting start-ups working on the development of applications or bots to join their growing army of virtual assistants.
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