Innovation and APIs: Fueling ROI and Development
In the grand scheme of making things work — businesses, relationships, professional partnerships, technology, appliances — the root of any functionality is communication. The science of making two entities understand each other is utterly foundational, from mitochondria to company hierarchies. And whenever anything breaks down, it’s inevitable that the villains will turn out to be ambiguity, misunderstanding, and skewed perception.
Flipping that notion around might just be the answer to creating an unbreakable structure for innovation, especially if the communication in question is happening between different systems. APIs, or application programming interfaces, are essentially how programs and platforms talk to each other. Without muddling non-programmer brains with a flood of intimidating jargon, these three articles from innovation thought leaders provide deeper insight into how APIs are proving to be the next revolutionary step in facilitating innovation at a cellular level.
APIs as an Innovation Paradigm
“At first blush, the letters API may bring to mind a maze of technical complexity, but more accurate associations connect the concept of an API to increased revenue, business transformation, rapidly forming partnerships, thriving communities of developers, and open innovation.
When looking at a technology phenomenon like APIs, the application programming interfaces that allow direct access to resources so that applications can be built, it is easy to ignore the larger forest of the business practices instead focus on the technology trees. But, by taking a step back and looking at not just the technology mechanisms of APIs, but also the patterns they have created for meeting modern business challenges, it is possible to take a massive leap forward…there is a huge opportunity for large companies to adopt APIs not just as a way of programming but as a new paradigm for accelerating achievement of a variety of business goals, [and] accelerate innovation and product development.”
How APIs Fuel Innovation
“I deal with major corporate customers who are rushing to expose their assets to these bright, out of the box thinkers, and surely enough, those brilliant minds rush to build something unique thereby adding value to each other in the process. Let those bright minds innovate, build, test, deploy, and bring you additional revenue while you enforce, control, and protect your assets in the right way. The key is not only to create APIs out of your existing systems but provide APIs that are enterprise-grade level. This includes security, governance, and scalability but still provides usability factors the users are looking for.
As innovation and integration continues to improve, now the internal developers are demanding that they participate in the innovation spiral along with the external developers. The data and asset holders are excited about that because the internal developers can take this up a notch. They can create innovative internal solutions using the secret sauce that may not be sharable with external developers, or partners, due to sensitivity of the assets.”
Open Data, APIs, and Innovation
“What does that short story have to do with open data, APIs, innovation, and, ultimately, quality? Let’s see if I can piece that together. Pun intended.
Open data is gaining constant traction nowadays, perhaps most notably with the recent Open Government Initiative by the White House. At its core, open data is about making data collected by governments, organizations, companies, etc. available to everyone, preferably at no cost. Instead of providing the pre-molded pieces of aggregated data, the actual building blocks are made available with the intention to fuel the creative minds of crafty entrepreneurs and technologists out there.
APIs, on the other hand, are the glue that makes this work. Just as Lego pieces have a universal way of adhering to each other thanks to those small plastic “bumps and holes,” APIs provide a standardized and (fairly) simple way to connect sources of open data to each other. By utilizing standardized and platform-agnostic technologies like HTTP, JSON and XML, they are the ultimate facilitators for integrating all those open data sources into innovative applications and solutions…This is where things get really exciting. Instead of data providers assembling their data to tell the stories they want to tell (i.e. the pre-molded pieces I was talking about), they are giving us the data to tell whatever story we find relevant – no molding, just the basic pieces.”