Big data & analytics

The API economy Is fueling cognitive business

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If you attended Insight, either in person or via Insight Go, you hopefully had the chance to catch the Systems & Architecture Super Session entitled, “From Challenges to Shared Vision: The Path toward a Comprehensive Big Data Analytics Solution.” To hear more on this, please join me on November 11th at 11 AM EST or 3 PM EST for an exciting live broadcast.

In that session I had the pleasure to speak alongside Ferd Scheepers, Chief Information Architect of ING, Tim Vincent, CTO for IBM Analytics and Tim Davis, Executive Director of our Analytics Architecture Center of Excellence. We discussed the challenges of building and maintaining an architecture that enables enterprises to harness vast quantities of structured and unstructured data for competitive advantage.

It’s no surprise that data growth is accelerating. By 2020, we’ll be creating 1.7MB of new information every second for every human on the planet, and more than 80 percent of this data is unstructured. Unlocking the potential of this data is all about what you do with it – gaining insight in context, and connecting with the users who need it.

As the world goes digital, what then sets a digital business apart from its competition? We believe that companies need to sense, to understand and continue to learn from their data. This ability heralds a new era of Cognitive Business, where digital is not the destination, but is a necessary step in:
– transforming industries and professions with data,
– rewriting the world with code, and
– transforming business processes and operations with learning.

Code is making many things smarter, but the real power comes from connecting people, processes, information and things in the API economy. Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, bring data and business logic together to deliver a digital service. In the language of cognitive business, the “subject” is the data (customer record, product description, etc), and the “verb” is the action you take on the data (searching, opening account, etc.). With a common language, effective interaction becomes simple.

Like any economy, the combination of open access, transparency and the infrastructure to operate at scale is necessary for success. While APIs are not new in computer programming, the open standards that allow these business services to be used by digital enterprises in a consistent way is new. Enterprises can now discover APIs, manage and monetize them, and securely transact in an open ecosystem. Currently there are tens of thousands of public APIs, but in a few years there will be millions.

Consider Watson as an example. When Watson won Jeopardy, it had one question-and-answer API. Today businesses across 17 industries in 36 countries are applying cognitive techniques using 28 Watson APIs available on IBM BlueMix. We currently have 350 partners building solutions using our Watson developer cloud, and 100 of these have commercial offerings. Even in these early days of the Watson business, we receive 1.3 billion API calls a month, which we securely manage with our DataPower gateway.

With the API economy expected to grow into a multitrillion dollar business opportunity, the enterprise has a natural resource ripe for monetization if it can tap into, and harness, the reservoir of available data. This will require using cognitive techniques to take vast quantities of unstructured data from any source and get meaning from it. To do this, the enterprise must build an architecture where they can quickly, and flexibly, plug in cognitive capabilities. Our IBM Systems team is focused on providing infrastructure that is optimized for new cognitive workloads around mobile, analytics and predictive service operations.

As it gains momentum, the API Economy becomes a prime example of how businesses can prepare to operate in the Cognitive Era. Remember to join me on November 11th at 11 AM EST or 3 PM EST for an exciting live broadcast on how companies are leveraging APIs to disrupt entire industries and how organizations can get started today.

More information on how IBM is leading in the API Economy can be found here, and as always you can follow the conversation at @IBM_apieconomy.

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