Can a business these days survive without creating or engaging or getting involved in any way with web APIs? Perhaps, but it would be missing out on one of the most compelling opportunities since the rise of the cloud era. Plus, in the words of Brian Koles of ChallengePost, it would also risk standing alone “on a digital island, which is no place to be in the connected future.”Application programming interfaces, or more specifically, web APIs, are gateways to other peoples’ software — they are employed to invoke a third-party software component over the Internet. For example, Facebook’s API or the Google GOOGL -0.08% Maps API can be embedded into an application or process. Koles adds that “APIs are on Main Street, enabling merchants to connect with new customers, more easily accept payments and hire help on the fly. They’re capturing memories at home, and enabling photos and prescriptions to be ordered from the corner pharmacy. Of course, APIs are big business too. Whether it’s trading foreign equities, managing large software projects or creating the future of consumer electronics, it’s all evolving communally through APIs.”The bottom line is that APIs have benefits that extend well beyond IT departments or data centers. It’s important that business leaders understand the ways in which APIs can open up their enterprises and expend their business horizons.