APIs – Do you have the API-tite for having your data consumed in new and interesting ways?

New Year, new gadgets, new trends to get excited about and to make predictions upon. What am I thinking about? Electric cars? 4k content? 3D printing and the new markets it will create? Big data? Google Glass 2? Smartphones and tablets outselling PCs?

Well, all of the above actually, but most of all I think (or maybe it’s more I hope) that wearable tech starts to take off this year. I’m from the generation that grew up wishing they had a watch they could talk to and control things with – exposure to programs like Knight Rider, Star Trek and Inspector Gadget at an early age mean my nostalgia synapses are firing on all cylinders when considering wearable technology, whatever shape or form it comes in.

I don’t know if it will really take off this year or not, but there are enough companies that want it to, and if they can get over the pricing, social acceptance, styling and “what the hell do I want this for?” hurdles then maybe we could start to see this concept make sense in a way we can’t fully appreciate right now. Google Glass 2 is on it’s way at some point this year, Samsung will take a second stab at the market with the Galaxy Gear 2, and what wearable tech will come out of Apple hiring Nike’s “Innovation Kitchen” studio director?

I guess the real point I want to make is, yes maybe it won’t be this year, but wearable technology, the internet everywhere, the “internet of things”, is coming, and so the important thing you have to ask yourself is, how will your data feature in this brave new world? As a business, is your data ready to be consumed and used in whatever form the world sees fit? Will you be able to react quickly enough to put you data where consumers’ eyes are?

Data is everything. We need to always be looking for ways to remove the barriers to innovation and success with our content. If you can make access to and management of your data as easy and as flexible as possible, you can maximise your ability to pivot on new opportunities as they arise. You can make the most of the great talent you have internally, as well as that which exists externally. Doing so will allow you to explore and create new and exciting ways of monetising your products and reaching new audiences.

To really drive the consumption of content in new and innovative ways, in fresh and different market segments, you need good APIs.

For the non technical and the not too sure amongst us, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are what allow data to be offered by one service and consumed by another. They are what underpin the internet and allow all the myriad sites out there to utilise bits of each other to good effect. Any site, application or device that makes use of a service provided elsewhere will most likely be doing so through the use of an API. Invisible to end users, but integral to the end user experience, a well constructed API can encourage greater use and adoption of your product. Check out this nice article on APIs if you’re not a programmer or tech head.

So, where were we.. It may be your brands have a means for accessing their data, but how well constructed is it? How easy is it for your data to be consumed and used? What is really needed is a clear, understandable and accessible API portal for accessing the content you have.

Beneficial for both internal and external initiatives, making your content more easily accessible will be great for mashup initiatives, hack day events, think tanks and for acting on initiatives in a quick and agile fashion. The easier you make it to utilise content, the easier it will be to come up with great new ideas for apps etc and make them a reality. Don’t let the technical architecture in your company get in the way of seizing opportunities. If you don’t have the capacity internally to construct an API portal there are a number of portal providers that provide a free tier, which can allow you to dip your toes in and test the concept without incurring major cost.

To be clear I’m not talking about necessarily making all of your content freely available to everyone without control – API Portals allow you to create levels of access for your content. For example:

1. Make your basic feeds accessible without cost or registration, perhaps embedded with advertising.
2. Make more full bodied content require registration, providing a higher level of control over where it is used.
3. Make complete data/access to core services further controlled through subscriptions/contractual agreement and/or account keys etc.

API portals can also provide security layers that can be used or ignored depending on how fully formed each of your existing underlying APIs are in the first place, thus allowing you to create an even and equally secure client facing facade across all of your APIs.

If you want your content and services to be adopted and used in new ways and by new technologies, if you want to capture the talent outside as well as the talent inside your business, then you need to put the ingredients in innovators’ hands, wherever they may be. A unified port of call for all of your data would be a powerful tool in facilitating new and enjoyable ways for your content to be shared and embraced in peoples’ lives.

When enthusiasts, programmers and businesses start experimenting with smart watches, smart bracelets, smart shoes and heaven forbid smart pants, they’re going to look for the easiest services to consume, the ones that integrate with their products and ideas in the best way. Make sure it’s your data that people are squinting at their watches for and not someone else’s.

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2 thoughts on “APIs – Do you have the API-tite for having your data consumed in new and interesting ways?

  1. Pingback: 4G and advertising, Google Play SEO recommendations, Mobile NFC and APIs to make data mobile | New Technology Development Team Blog

  2. Pingback: Taking a closer look Android Wear and what it does for the smartwatch | rickynealeuk

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