My good friend and mentor Phil Windley recently published “The Compuserve of Things“. As usual the information is well thought out and clearly articulated. It is so good I wanted to reiterate portions. Here is the summary:
On the Net today we face a choice between freedom and captivity, independence and dependence. How we build the Internet of Things has far-reaching consequences for the humans who will use—or be used by—it. Will we push forward, connecting things using forests of silos that are reminiscent the online services of the 1980’s, or will we learn the lessons of the Internet and build a true Internet of Things?
This also reminds me very much of the saying Doc Searls gave me:
Freedom of choice does not equate to choice of captor.
The way the internet is being used today, we have become numb to the process of being herded into silos of captivity. The first step to remedy this is awareness. Not always easy to resolve.
A Real Open Internet of Things
If we were really building the Internet of Things, with all that that term implies, there’d be open, decentralized, heterarchical systems at its core, just like the Internet itself. There aren’t. Sure, we’re using TCP/IP and HTTP, but we’re doing it in a way that is closed, centralized, and hierarchical with only a minimal nod to interoperability using APIs.
When we say the Internet is “open,” we’re using that as a key word for the three key concepts that underlie the Internet:
- Heterarchy (what some call peer-to-peer connectivity)
I really like these concepts. It all begins with awareness.
It’s been a pleasure for us to work together on trying to derive a sound basis for thinking about the API Economy – but that basis isn’t very useful if it isn’t built upon. So today we’re introducing the second part of the API Economy Axioms series – a look into what the consequences of these axioms are.
We’re starting off in this post by summarizing the five axioms and from next week we’ll be covering what happens next:
- Implications for individual organization
- Implications for Internet and business ecosystems as a whole
- The challenges to be faced – both technical and organizational
If you missed any of the Axiom posts, they are linked below in each section.
Summarizing the Five Axioms
In summary, the Axioms are defined as follows:
- Axiom #1— Everything and everyone will be API-enabled: This Axiom highlights the fact that almost every network connected endpoint is becoming an API that can be invoked and read by other software systems. This transformation, when seen device-by-device or step-by-step, seems logical – perhaps even mundane. However, the point behind this Axiom is that as a macro phenomenon we are quickly accelerating into a world where almost every device and system is addressable via APIs. [Axiom 1]
- Axiom #2— APIs are core to any cloud, social and mobile computing strategy: More concretely than Axiom 1, this Axiom describes how APIs form part of what are arguably the three most important transformational forces in the online economy today: cloud, social and mobile. It’s very clear that many of today’s innovations in these areas would be impossible without API-like architectural patterns (even if not always named APIs) and that APIs are enabling yet more of this same transformation. [Axiom 2]
- Axiom #3 – APIs are an economic imperative.: This Axiom shows that APIs are at their core not simply a technical phenomenon, but are intrinsically linked to the creation and access to value – resulting in economic impact. This does not necessarily mean relevant APIs are “paid for services” (although some are), but in fact that almost all APIs enable, improve or scale value in ways which increase economic impact. [Axiom 3]
- Axiom #4: Organizations must provide core competence through APIs: This Axiom zeros in on the fact that the transformation that matters most is when it’s core competence as an organization is made available as an API. In other words when APIs become drivers for core business, and enable partners and customers to engage, provision and consume that core competence in new ways. [Axiom 4]
- Axiom #5 – Organizations must consume the core competencies of others through APIs: This Axiom is a counterpart to Axiom #4 and highlights the fact that consumption of the APIs of others is of equal importance to provision. When this consumption is of the core competences of others then this provides the strongest foundation for business partnerships. [Axiom 5]
By themselves, these Axioms can seem rather dry or disembodied – why these Axioms and not five others? While it is hard to know whether we chose the correct five building blocks they were chosen because they illustrate different dimensions of what is happening in the API Economy today:
- Scale – Axiom #1: reaching almost every software and hardware system being deployed.
- Momentum – Axiom #2: underpinning huge global transformative trends.
- Economic impact – Axiom #3: moving from a technical phenomenon to a business essential.
- Imperative to provide –Axiom #4: demonstrating the impulse to offer APIs.
- Imperative to consume – Axiom #5: closing the loop on provider – consumer relationships for services.
But, the proof in the pudding is whether or not, these Axioms allow us to say something about how we think the API Economy will evolve, change and impact business.
This is the subject of the next set of posts we have queued up – we’re looking forward to people’s thoughts on both the Axioms and what we can derive from them!