This year, like no other, we will see organizations tap into APIs to sidestep the complexity and cost of developing and maintaining their own AI solutions and models.

In pursuit of digital transformation, enterprises are harnessing the capabilities of data, automation, and innovation to create more value and competitive advantage. AI services, such as biometric access control, content generation, image analysis, and conversational agents, offer immense potential for enhancing business processes. With their proliferation, there is a growing need to access those capabilities quickly and easily.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) make it easier to access AI functionalities without having to build them from scratch. This way, organizations can leverage the power of AI without having to deal with the complexity and cost of developing and maintaining their own AI models. Here’s why APIs are essential in the emerging world of AI services:

  • Efficiency: APIs allow quick access to AI capabilities without the need for extensive development efforts.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Developing and maintaining AI models can be complex and expensive. APIs provide an alternative of ready-made functionalities.
  • Scalability: APIs enable seamless integration of various AI tools and services. They act as bridges, connecting different components effortlessly.

Many businesses have identified APIs as an important enabler of their digital transformation objectives. The ease of integration offered by this “API abstraction” approach makes it possible to utilize AI across varied business operations and processes without having to write a lot of code. Taking it a step further, in the not-so-distant future, APIs will also let businesses customize AI solutions for their specific needs.

The API advantage will fuel AI-powered growth

According to the Cisco AI Readiness Index, only a quarter (27%) of respondents said AI deployment has been given priority for additional budget, compared to other technological deployments. So how can organizations accelerate AI in their own context? One key trend that will grow in the year ahead is toward using APIs which act as bridges that effortlessly integrate many different AI tools, services, and solutions. This will make it easy to use AI to automate certain tasks, find useful information from data, and make better decisions.

In her annual tech predictions for the year ahead, Liz Centoni, Cisco Chief Strategy Officer and GM of Applications, explained the trends that will shape this shift.

“This year will also mark the beginning of a race to API-driven customization where organizations can choose and combine APIs from various providers, easily tailoring AI solutions to meet unique and novel requirements. Flexibility and scalability will foster effortless collaboration with external AI experts, startups, and research institutions, fueling an exchange of ideas and breakthrough advancements,” she said.

Bridging the gap between AI readiness and reality

Liz Centoni’s tech predictions highlight the benefits of APIs in the customization race that is accelerating with the emergence of AI across nearly every facet of software development.

APIs can bridge the gap between AI readiness and AI reality. By integrating APIs, businesses can:

  • Automate Tasks: Whether it’s automating customer interactions, streamlining internal workflows, or developing better software faster, APIs facilitate access to AI-driven processes.
  • Extract Insights: APIs allow organizations to extract valuable information from data. The result is better decision making around such areas as resources, customers, and revenue.
  • Enhance Efficiency: APIs enable seamless communication between different systems. For instance, integrating AI into software development can increase time to market and innovation.

As digital transformation continues to evolve, APIs will remain a critical tool for unlocking AI’s full potential. This will create a new and exciting ecosystem of AI-focused APIs that can grow and evolve along with businesses and entire industries.

These curated model gardens are already taking shape and will make it possible for developers to access collections of enterprise-ready foundation models, task-specific models, and APIs in conjunction with tools designed to simplify the process of building and deploying custom models.

APIs are not just technical bridges – they are enablers of innovation and progress. By embracing APIs, organizations can ride the wave of AI-powered digital transformation and stay ahead in an ever-changing competitive landscape.

With AI as both catalyst and canvas for innovation, this is one of a series of blogs exploring Cisco Executive Vice President Liz Centoni’s tech predictions for 2024. Her complete tech trend predictions can be found in The Year of AI Readiness, Adoption, and Tech Integration ebook.

Catch the other blogs in the 2024 Tech Trends series.


Shannon McFarland

Vice President, Developer Relations & Experience