I don’t know if any company in the world has opened up its core business data as Open APIs for free consumption. Best Buy has done it recently with the help of Mashery. Mashery, the API management services company calls it as Business Development 2.0. Want to know Why?. Continue to read further.
Best Buy has taken all its product data such as product images, descriptions, user comments, pricing and make it available in the form of APIs. These APIs can potentially be used by bloggers, social applications, or Mobile Application Developers to develop new touch point applications for interacting with Best Buy.
While the results of this move are yet to be seen, the initiative itself is indeed adventurous and ground-breaking from business perspective. Am sure the Open APIs would certainly lead to proliferation of innovative applications/Widgets in innumerable delivery channels.
For example, an end-user can built a wish list out of the Best Buy products and place it as a Widget in iGoogle homepage. An expert blogger who constantly reviews digital cameras can embed a Point-of-Sale widget right next to the same blog post.
What does this all mean to its business? – More Touch-Points lead to Increased Traffic. And Increased Traffic would result in Enhanced Revenue. Another interesting claim that Mashery makes is that, by introducing these Free APIs, the business can acquire new Partners without depending much from IT. Isn't that threatening to Enterprise IT shops?. Its high-time that Enterprise IT wakes up.
Best Buy claims that this could lead to new Business Model Innovations.
I would go to the extent of categorizing this initiative under Open Innovation. It truly demonstrates the Openness characteristic of the Internet and holds the network effect of web 2.0. As mentioned in O’Reilly Technology Blog, these initiatives re-draw the boundaries of the traditional organization. Closed companies are going to find it more and more difficult to survive against Open companies. I couldn’t agree more!
Some of the other companies that follow this Open Path are – MTV Networks, World Bank and Reuters. World Bank has opened its Global data sources in the form of free programmable APIs. According to the bank, the data can be mapped, visualized and mashed in unlimited number of ways that will help develop a better understanding of trends and patterns around key development issues.
It looks like the trend is to essentially translate internal, once-proprietary corporate data into free-flowing rivers of information so that the Internet can consume it instantly & innovatively.