Wednesday, May 1, 2013

CEO's Corner: How "Opening Your Data to the World" is Beneficial



I was reading an article, “Open Your Data to the World” by Neil Savage from Computer World and immediately related to it. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that noHold had to do some soul searching to decide whether or not to provide an open API (Application Programming Interface) with its Knowledge Management platform, SICURA™.

We struggled with some of the same issues reported in this article. What will happen in terms of security? What kind of applications are people going to build with this new functionality? Can somebody cannibalize our market?

I am glad we decided in favor of building such an API. It helped us in at least three ways:

1)      It enforced a new discipline in the design of our own platform. We use the API internally so when we need to create a new module, we don’t fuse the connection points of the new module with those of an existing one, instead we just use the same API calls available to the public. This increases design modularity and helps with all sorts of other aspects of software development including maintenance and support.

2)      It freed us from having to anticipate everything a customer may want to build with our solution. Because we publish an API, we never have to say no to a customer. Whatever they ask for can be accommodated by designing a custom application that is linked via the API to our platform. Customizations are easy because the API defines clear distinct access points to different functionality. It is like building your own custom yogurt treat.

3)      It opened up new opportunities. We can now build compound applications that use our platform in conjunction with others. For example it is now possible to create a new version of our SalesAdvisor™ that can use BBYOpen (Best Buy API). The SalesAdvisor is designed to increase conversion rates on a Web site. It answers prospects pre-sales questions and generates more revenue for a company by educating, advising and cross-selling. Among other things, BBYOpen can provide consumer reviews on selected products, pricing and a chance to purchase. By marrying one solution, the SalesAdvisor, and the data from the Best Buy API, it is possible to create a powerful application that helps consumers find what they are looking for, and that helps resellers become more successful.

As more companies open the power of their platforms to other developers, the public will gain access to a new breed of applications with almost limitless opportunities.

Diego Ventura, CEO, noHold, Inc.