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What Are Communications APIs?

This article was updated on March 22, 2023

If you're just beginning to learn about APIs (application programming interfaces), you might be confused about how they can help you ramp up your communications capabilities. After all, the term API doesn't explain much to non-IT experts. What are communications APIs? How do they work? And how can they help your business enhance its communications and help your employees boost their productivity? Here's everything you need to know about communications APIs and how they can impact your business.

Image depicting various Communications APIs coming out of the box

What Are Communications APIs?

What are communications APIs? Communications APIs give your business the ability to embed voice calls, text messages, and other communications capabilities into an application or product. They serve as the conduit between your business’s applications or websites and the communication channels you use to connect with your customers. In this way, communications APIs are an essential part of your digital transformation strategy.

Communications APIs extend your company's communications capabilities, helping you quickly and effectively scale certain aspects of your business. Rather than having to hire developers with advanced expertise in a specific communications technology, such as SMS messaging or two-factor authentication, you can instead take advantage of a best-in-class communications API that provides that capability right out of the box, using a global network and compliant practices.

Communications APIs can save you from having to invest considerable time and money in reinventing the wheel. This means your products and services can go to market more quickly. A communications API can also help you make the most of your IT team's skills by freeing them up to focus on more complex projects that call on those abilities. All of these benefits allow you to digitally transform your business with greater speed and efficiency, maintaining a competitive position compared to your rivals.

Communications APIs can empower your business to streamline its internal operations by automating workflows, and they help deliver exceptional customer experiences.

How Do Communications APIs Work?

How exactly do communications APIs work? They establish a standard framework for communications between a company's systems and its other core business applications, such as CRMs and ecommerce platforms. By creating a standard syntax and formatting protocol for exchanging information between systems that would otherwise be unable to talk to one another, APIs make it possible for businesses to share critical data between these applications.|

Because communications APIs enable secure transactions between business applications on an ongoing basis, they make it possible for a company to quickly update and change sensitive data — for example, customer records — without having to worry about manual errors or, worse, tampering by unauthorized parties. With the increased security and peace of mind that communications enable, businesses can go about digitally transforming their key business processes with greater speed and scale than would have been possible just a few short years ago.

Businesses can even integrate communications APIs into their existing enterprise applications. This allows companies to streamline workflows for their internal business processes, enhancing employee productivity and enabling greater workplace collaboration. Communications APIs also allow companies to roll out powerful new communications features in customer-facing applications more quickly and efficiently than they would be able to if they had to build out those capabilities using their in-house resources.

What Are the Different Types of Communications APIs?

Let’s take a closer look at the different kinds of communications APIs. Vendors like Vonage offer the option for your business to source an entire portfolio of communications APIs that work together to create interconnected omnichannel experiences for your customers.

Voice API

Voice APIs are typically used to embed voice calling functionality into your business’s website or application. Newer Voice API offerings, like the Vonage Voice API, have expanded to facilitate different kinds of speech-enabled interactions with customers beyond just phone calls. You can now use a Voice API to embed calling capabilities directly into your website or application using WebRTC, build out customized AI voice experiences, migrate your traditional PSTN (public switched telephone network) system into the cloud, and more.

Video API

Video APIs give you the ability to create richer, more-customized video experiences for your customers. Whether you want to build a completely customized video experience or you’re looking for an easier way to embed video into your channels and hit the ground running with Vonage Video Express, the Vonage Video API offers a variety of use cases to meet your needs.

Messages API 

Messaging APIs, like the Vonage Messages API, make it possible to expand your business’s messaging strategy and more easily connect with customers on this critical channel. Using an API like the offering from Vonage allows your business to integrate your messaging features with popular functionality like SMS, MMS, and popular social chat applications — so your customers can reach you through their preferred channels.

Verify API

Setting up integrated communication experiences for your customers is critical, but it’s also just as important to make sure those communications are delivered securely. With the Vonage Verify API, you can implement two-factor authentication into your communication touchpoints and add extra layers of protection to help prevent bad actors from accessing customer data.


How Do Businesses Use Communications APIs?

Let’s look at a few examples of how your business might use Communications APIs.

Voice API — Use WebRTC to Integrate Voice Communications into Your Brand Touchpoints

If you’re looking to embed voice technology into your business’s existing website or application, consider a WebRTC solution. WebRTC allows you to seamlessly embed voice technology, such as a click-to-call button, onto your website or application. If a customer is browsing your website or app and wants to move the conversation to a call, WebRTC allows that switch to happen in real-time. Likewise, it keeps customers interacting with your business the whole time because they aren’t leaving your digital touchpoints, but rather engaging in a different way. It’s also a cost-effective voice solution because it doesn’t rely on phone carriers. WebRTC technology also integrates with the Vonage Voice API to deliver customized voice experiences.

Safeguard Customer Communications With the Verify API

Because traditional logins and passwords no longer offer sufficient protection when it comes to online access, the Vonage Verify API can be a great way to add an extra layer of protection to your customer communications. If a customer tries to log into your business’s website, application, or other touchpoint, you can use the Verify API to automatically send a one-time code to the user’s phone or email address to certify the login attempt. In high-profile industries like healthcare and education that involve sensitive patient or student data, using a solution like the Verify API provides an efficient way to elevate your security measures.

Create Customized Large-Scale Video Experiences With the Video API

Video APIs offer your business the ability to embed video capabilities into your touchpoints and create video experiences that meet your specific needs. Because video technology is rapidly evolving, using a Video API to develop those experiences can help you stay ahead of the curve. Offerings like Vonage Interactive Broadcast even make it possible to offer large-scale video engagement directly in your branded websites and applications.

Benefits of Using Communications APIs

Now that you’re familiar with some specific use cases for communications APIs, let’s summarize some of the key benefits for your business.

  • Enrich your customer communication experiences: Using communications APIs gives your business the ability to build unique customer communication experiences so your customers can reach you on their preferred channels. And when you select a vendor like Vonage Communications APIs, all of your business’s APIs can connect back to one another to enable more seamless communications and richer customer insights.

  • Spend less time developing communication touchpoints from scratch: While communications APIs offer a great deal of customization, they also serve as building blocks so that your developer team doesn’t need to build out each communication channel from scratch. This can save your business time and money, while still allowing for flexibility as you build out experiences.

  • Access technical resources as you build out communication experiences: If you don’t outsource some of your communication experience builds using APIs as a backbone, that also means your developer team is left to their own devices. By using a communications API provider like Vonage, your business can also gain access to a range of technical support and resources as you go about configuring your API-based experiences.

Modernize Your Business Communications

Ready to get started with communications APIs after reading about all the benefits for your customer communications? Explore Vonage Communications APIs now. 


Rachel Weinberg
By Rachel Weinberg Content Manager, Communications APIs

Rachel Weinberg is the Content Manager at Vonage supporting the Communications APIs business. She is an experienced content strategist, writer, and editor with a passion for grammar and the Oxford comma. Rachel earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and her Masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. When she’s not working on content strategy, Rachel is a freelance theater critic in Chicago.


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