Open APIs: An indispensable link to customers

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At the World Bank, there was concern that giving away data would mean giving up the revenue that paid for curation of the data. Fantom says the bank decided that a free model would be better for its main objective of fighting poverty. "By making these data available for free and using these tools, we've seen a massive increase in the use of our data," he says. "Once you start getting into this, it's pretty clear that this is the right thing to do."

All of these organizations say they are continually developing their APIs, adding new functionality, responding to feedback from developers and customers, and figuring out what data to make available. "You've got to release the right kind of data with the right documentation. Really, it comes down to what customer problems are you going to solve by doing what you do," Bendt says. "It's not a launch-it-and-leave-it type of capability. It's constant learning and constant improvement."

Savage is a freelance science and technology writer in Lowell, Mass. He can be reached at neil@stefan.com.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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This story, "Open APIs: An indispensable link to customers" was originally published by Computerworld.

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