Guest post – The Internet Future? API’s and the Digital Neverneverland by Drew Bartkiewicz – VP Mashery
Note: Drew is over in London for the BAPI conference(details at the end of this post. It was nice to catch up with him ..)
In 2009 I had the pleasure of meeting Ajit Jaokar of Futuretext at the World Economic Forum’s Future of the Internet Council during the global agenda summit in Dubai. The three-day analysis of the council was focused on extracting the lessons of the last ten years of the Internet to roughly project the next ten.
It was during this prolonged series of discussions with leaders in technology and economics that major themes jumped off the page when assessing the “next” Internet. Over the last 18 months two patterns are becoming even more apparent: (1) the Internet will require more innovative forms of risk hedging beyond just security, and new concepts like “CloudInsure” will emerge for businesses depending irreversibly on digital technologies. And (2), the cost and complexity of Internet technology will be massively transformed downward by this little known technology advancement called API’s (application programming interfaces).
Available as accessible fountains of data and web services from companies like Google, Skype, ESPN, Facebook, & Foursquare, public API’s are fueling a new world of digital possibilities and innovation, especially to a broader population of Internet participants who access the Internet on millions of worldwide mobile “apps.” Today these apps solve mostly small problems but as the market of available API’s expands, larger world problems will be solved and more complex data relationships established. Apps will become the dominant mode of relating disparate data, perhaps between companies who have never formally met one another, and API’s the glue enabling the means to do it.
The Internet is transforming (once again), this time onto mobile devices powered by data innovation and emerging API’s. As other businesses continue to bring new API’s onto the market – especially globally – then the potential for digital innovation the next ten years is quite astonishing. Because of the unprecedented interoperability and ease of API’s, a digital Neverneverland may be on the near horizon for the millions of developers, consumers, and innovators of the global Internet, all of whom will want to grow old with the Internet without every having to really grow up. Data can a valuable currency asset, but relating data requires an inquisitive mind, a youthful energy, and a spirit of wanting to make something better. Neverneverland is not a bad destination given the digital potential humanity has in our midst.
Over the next few years people will have apps in their hand, their kitchen, their car, and their computers, all powered by a global market of billions of data and service API’s – provided by emerging technology and media giants to traditional brands that offer data “hook ups.” The opportunity for businesses will be digital survival and relevance, and the opportunity for the consumer will be a mobile, digital Internet that can expand as quickly and broadly as the human imagination. Through API’s the traditional technical barriers to digital innovation are lowered by quantum leaps, leaving the human imagination to “create an app” to solve problems, both large and small.
Below is a graph from my friend John Musser showing the acceleration and volume of API’s being introduced to a willing world of apps and social media developers.
(Compliments of John Musser of Programmableweb)
While 4,000 API types might not seem like much, the average call volume of those API’s averages over a billion data exchanges per month for each company in the top twenty of API volumes today. Notably, it is estimated that not even 1% of the global open API market has been realized given the newness of this type of technology overlay on traditional IT infrastructures. CIO’s should take notice. There are two major trends driving the demand for more open IT assets: the consumer’s rapid move to mobile and social platforms, and the emerging financial market opportunity of data as a service. In other words, every business of size must now strive to be a platform for data and web services – even traditional businesses that consume and aggregate unique data sets in support of traditional models and products. Not everyone has to be an Amazon, though they would benefit just by thinking like one: like a platform. API’s are the critical component to achieving such a model.
Over the last few weeks I have attended a series of API conferences called the Business of API’s, sponsored by Mashery – first in San Francisco, then New York City, and this week in London. The companies presenting ranged from upstart API billionaires like Klout, LinkedIn, Netflix and Twitter, to established consumer brands like ESPN, YellowPages, USAToday, AP, and ASOS. What did their perspectives all have in common? Their businesses aspire to leverage this little known and emerging technology innovation called API’s to grow, extend, and in some cases, transform their businesses in order to survive the global market for API’s.
Winning with API’s and opening IT up like a platform translates to competing in the global market for mobile consumers. And as the new data aggregators have shown us since 2008, API’s also translate to millions of eyeballs on social, mobile, appliance, and any other app that comes along. In the words of one Business of API presenter, “we are future-proofing our business with a data access model that allows us to diversify and grow in a digital future that is often hard to predict.” Like few previous fads of the Internet’s evolution, API’s are here to stay, with Forrester predicting this year that over 75% of the Fortune 1000 will have open API’s by 2014.
What does this mean for businesses thinking about social, mobile, and cloud computing? It means that the digital business of the next ten years is the business of API’s, and this trend will cut across every economic sector that relies upon “data in” and “data out” at massive scale. What does this emerging API trend mean for the consumer? It means that the next innovations of mobile apps and web mashups are just getting started. More importantly perhaps, easier access to the world’s data means that the youthful aspirations to make the Internet better are firmly within our reach. Welcome to Neverneverland.
By Drew Bartkiewicz, October 21, 2012
Drew Bartkiewicz is the VP of Strategy at Mashery. He is the Founder and Chairman of CyberFactors and CloudInsure, and is a graduate of West Point and the Yale School of Management. He has written about technology trends, risks, and opportunities over the last decade, published within the Brookings Institute, the World Economic Forum, and more than 50 publications internationally. He resides in New York City with his wife and three children.