As tech enters every edge of our lives, the importance of developing and selecting an appropriate technology stack is increasingly apparent. Even if being tech-savvy isn’t your forte, you’ve probably already benefitted from this development; for example, your mapping app can alert you when there’s traffic on your normal route home.
Sound familiar? If not, this is the future we’re moving towards. The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking over – that is, the ability for pieces of your everyday life to get connected (through the internet) to each other for open communication. In the buzzword world that we now live in, terms like “integrations” and “open APIs” are tossed around frequently, but few take the time to actually understand what they mean and how it affects their lives.
So let’s understand how these technologies work as they take over.
“Integrations” and “Open APIs” In Everyday Terms
Integrations allow the flow of information from one application to another. In order for the two applications to communicate with one another, developers must create middleware to ensure the two applications can speak to and understand each other, like a translator. Say you want to delay sending an email you just wrote until 9am tomorrow. If you’re on gmail, you can use an app like boomerang to schedule your email; this is an app integration.
Open APIs (application programming interface) take this a step further. Instead of requiring developers to build middleware so the systems can communicate, open APIs are publicly available so developers can access proprietary software. With the ability to access this sort of information, the development of new software and tech is exponentially accelerated, breaking all sorts of barriers that prohibited or slowed advancement previously.
There are three general characteristics of open APIs:
- Publicly available, free of charge
- Usually backed by open data (i.e. data anyone can access)
- Based on an open standard
Where Is This Tech Headed?
Right now, integrations are growing in tech – particularly in software-as-a-service (SaaS) ventures. Tech companies are working hard to integrate with other softwares so their products are more widely accessible to new groups of clients, but this can cost quite a bit of both time and money to agree upon integration terms and develop middleware.
Soon, open APIs will become the norm. Companies will stop charging money to integrate with their software, and it won’t be nearly as difficult to add a new integration. Innovative companies like Slack have allowed other groups in their community to build their own integrations with Slack’s software. This openness and fluidity in technology will open up new ways of doing business for all users.
Open APIs will increase the ability and frequency of data-driven operation. With cross-functional team value for all sorts of data, decisionmakers will have easier access to the information they need to make smart decisions, instead of basing these decisions on assumptions and estimates.
With IoT tech, every connected device in our lives will be able to communicate with each other. As more and more data points become available, these points – your fridge, your phone, your lamp – can all “talk” to each other to make your use of them effortless.
Imagine if shutting off your alarm signaled your home to heat up, your coffee maker to turn on, and your morning newspaper to roll up to your doorstep. That’s the type of communication that innovative technologies envision with every connected piece of our world.
Tech is taking over real estate, too. In an industry prime for disruption, advanced technology with well-developed, versatile capabilities will pave the way for a much more effective, efficient way of working.