APIs – The key to unlocking new markets
APIs are helping enterprises with locked-in legacy estates become more flexible – and therefore more digital. More important though, they are increasingly being used to attract developer talent and innovative ideas for new revenue streams, and for services that customers never even knew they needed.
When secured, APIs are a way of creating a sandbox for developers to play in. Firms in the healthcare, retail and travel space are already opening up to innovation and waiting to see what services come back to them.
While monetising the data you serve to these partners and developers is one revenue stream, perhaps more valuable in the long term are the new, useful and innovative services that could be offered to your existing customers – often things that you haven’t even considered before.
Philips Hue, for example, has transformed from a traditional electronics manufacturer to an IoT company thanks to APIs. It allowed developers to use its data to create innovative apps that help manage connected products – like its smart lighting. Customers can now control their lighting preferences from their smartphones, making it a valuable future investment – helping cut down on energy usage and providing a service as well as a product.
Mobile apps need APIs to function: programmable, interconnected frameworks, used to access business data and transactions and create new services. For the enterprise, however, time-to-market pressures risk the development of piecemeal applications that work but do not conform to the organisation’s broader mobile, data architecture.
The answer is the tiering of APIs and advanced API management tools, and there are a number of examples emerging from the new API economy.
Among these is a smart parking solution from Siemens. This is a modular, infrastructure-based sensor system that delivers a clear picture of where available parking spaces can be found in a sensor-equipped car park. It also tells you how long each space has been occupied for. Furthermore, Siemens API can report on any improper usage of non-parking areas, as well as nearby bicycle and emergency vehicle lanes.
The idea is for all this valuable parking information to be used by law enforcement, commuters, traffic management agencies, and even retailers with complementary services. The system uses RFID technology for vehicle recognition, drawing on real-time parking-related licenses or identification data.
The next step with smart parking solutions, says Siemens, is adaptive lighting in car parks; monitoring of city equipment and car emission data management.
APIs are also being prepped for use in medical care. Innovations so far have tended to focus on clinicians to diagnose patients, but a number of companies are trialling services and standards for care providers to advise and even prescribe apps directly to patients.
The key concern in this industry is security, with personal medical data requiring protection for compliance purposes. Nevertheless, large insurance companies like Kaiser and Aetna have shared their visions for an integrated ecosystem, with mobile consumer apps and devices working together in various healthcare scenarios.
According to Juniper Research, in just five years there’ll be more than 100 million smart watches in use worldwide; and mHealth APIs and interfaces, like Apple’s HealthKit and Samsung’s SAMI, will help propel the global healthcare accessory market to $3bn by 2019, forecasts Juniper.
Intel has developed an API and wearable computer combination for Parkinson’s sufferers and is part of a trial to collect data that can be shared with researchers. The company is working with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, an organisation that was established in 2000 by the actor and Parkinson’s sufferer, to study the disease.
The trial is underway and enables patients to be monitored remotely, and the data stored in an open system that can be accessed by scientists. Intel says that wearable computers offer a more objective way of monitoring patients than previous clinical trials, which relied on the patient describing their symptoms and experiences.
Source: CIO Magazine