The power of the collaboration platform API

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No collaboration platform should be a silo in the age of the application programming interface (API). Much like the API is adding power to project management platforms, we can expect to see the same transformation take place with cloud cloud collaboration platforms.

Here’s how some collaboration platform vendors are meeting the API needs of their customers.


Case in point is Slack , the collaboration startup turned juggernaut, defines the power of the API in the collaboration. So much so, they launched a Slack App Directory in 2015. It works on the same app store model that users already know from their mobile devices.

I’ve been following Slack since the beginning. They pitched me back when I was just pulled off the collaboration beat at TechRepublic. It was still very much a SharePoint and instant messaging (IM) world at that point. To me, part of Slack’s charm at launch was that it was a startup poised to challenge the vendor lock in that had beset enterprise collaboration at that time.

Their APIs will undoubtedly help Slack Enterprise Grid grab a major foothold in larger enterprises as well. Their APIs combined with out of the box integrations mean that enterprise will be able to tap into all sorts of data from other cloud systems like Salesforce or SAP directly from a Slack channel. Pulling data into Slack channels can rack up benefits across a large business as business units and project teams get improved access to actionable data.

Some are calling Slack an operating system. On many levels, that’s very true because of APIs.

Microsoft SharePoint & Office 365

Office 365 APIs break away from the traditional Microsoft that people think they know . The Office 365 API Reference puts it best:

You can access the Office 365 APIs from solutions across all mobile, web, and desktop platforms. No matter your development platform or tools. So whether you’re building web applications using .NET, PHP, Java, Python, or Ruby on Rails, or creating apps for Windows Universal Apps, iOS, Android, or on another device platform, it’s your choice.

It’s 2017. Microsoft offering open APIs is a testimony to the leadership of Satya Nadella. Open APIs are also necessary to the future of Office 365 and SharePoint in my opinion because their customers no longer live in a Microsoft-only world no matter Microsoft wants them to be in one. Data trumps platform choices and Microsoft is now enlightened enough to realize that and chang accordingly.

Other collaboration platforms

I followed Huddle and Wrike quite closely when I was a freelance writer. Both platforms have their own well documented APIs available for their customers. Huddle focuses on the financial services industry along with federal government sectors that are full of legacy applications from which users need to access data.

Extending collaboration via APIs

Collaboration platforms got their start as a repository for project documents. More enlightened project teams also began to use these platforms for centralizing communications. An entire industry grew up around SharePoint and later Office 365 of third party developers building add-ins (for customers to do more with the platform. Much of the market focused on Web Parts for SharePoint.

Fast forward to today, the role of collaboration platform has to support an evolving workforce that’s increasingly data driven. There’s also more teams working remotely than ever before. Not to mention, there’s now open standards and the REST API that customers come to expect in their platforms. It’s no longer enough to just support the Microsoft ecosystem. Customers now demand support for the latest cloud standards.

Hi! My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content creator based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve worked with clients like NetApp, Dell, and Neustar to develop technical, training, and thought leadership content. My articles have been published by TechBeacon, Projects@Work, CNET TechRepublic, Network World,,, and others. Follow me on Twitter:@willkelly.

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