While there have been ways to connect devices and software for decades, some of them pretty good, others worse to horrible. Most did not withstand time because they were to rigid, incomprehensible or to much tight to a specific vendor like IBM or Microsoft. Now the world has a good new candidate that could do the trick. REST(full) API's. To be honest, it is not really a new candidate, it has been there for years but it finally becomes THE candidate.
Application Programming Interfaces (API) are not a standard as such, but in terms of web services API's it pretty much is so understandable for programmers and the output is standard and readable it makes a very good chance to change the world. The most common is REST, or something that looks like it (RESTfull) and spit out both machine and human readable content (XML/JSON) These days I would put my money on JSON, while less human readable it is better equiped for the machine/software world.
Internet has always been about information exchange. The world wide web (or HTML whatever your prefer) made it possible to provide that information is easily accesible and linked to other sources. Nothing more and nothing less. You cannot enrich information, manipulate it (in a good way is meant here) or all the fancy things one needs to let data become information.
Social networks like this one, provides the ability to connect people. Not that we could not do that before, but at much higher cost and within a very limited geographical area. We can exchange ideas (like I am doing now) cooperate and work together, but we still would rely on intelligent software to be able to make smart decisions. And where are they getting their information from is crucial in that proces off course. At the risk of stating the obvious, I will do it anyway.
Web based API's are the way that this can and should be implemented. Those API's can provide usefulll information to other programs, information to databases, smart algorythms and basically is able to connect any software and device together in a way most programmers would be able to understand and therefore prefer and are able to make software integration fast and reliable.
And that is the beauty, like HTML was the revolution that attracted people to the internet, a simple way to move around and gather information and new contacts. API's will do the same for developers and software and that might change everything again.
Software will work 24x7 for you, software developers a bit less but a lot of them are doing that for free (open source) and therefore make it happen whatever you decide.
If you have a business, start using this software integration strategy starting tommorow and be rigid about it. Functionality is very important, but integration is a matter of survival in the digital world. Demand that software will use web based API technology to interconnect. Let your architects setup some smart API development rules and open up your company to the world as far as you can do for others to be able to effectively work with you. If you want me to help, you know where to find me.
So welcome to the API economy. Thanks for reading and I hope to see some interesting comments.
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