IBM Gives Developers Access to Research via APIs

Looking to put its mouth where its research dollars are, IBM has begun exposing some of the industry research it does to developers via RESTful APIs.

IBM recently published a “Raising the Game: The IBM Business Tech Trends Study” conducted by the IBM Center for Applied Insights and based on interviews with 1,400 IT and business decision-makers in 15 industries across five continents.

The study itself finds that a large portion of more advanced IT organizations are creating partnerships with "citizen developers" inside and out of their organizations to get more value out of their data. In the spirit of promoting that kind of collaboration, Sandy Carter, IBM's general manager for ecosystem development, says IBM is making the detailed research it collected for this report available via a RESTful API that both professionals and citizen developers who register to take IBM developer tools for a test drive can play with.

With advanced analytics applications becoming more accessible using, for example, new services such as IBM Watson Analytics, access to original research is becoming a major limitation in the development of the “information economy.” Most research is locked behind a paywall. But as vendors such as IBM continue to fund original research, they're trying to make that research as broadly available as possible. Making that raw data available via an API could also make it easier to filter much of the biases that went into creating the reports.

Carter says that with the proliferation of mobile computing devices that can access analytics applications running in the cloud, organizations of all sizes are looking to make more fact-based decisions. The challenge is that most organizations have limited access to relevant data. Many of them are investing in big data projects to aggregate as much data as possible, but as Carter notes, the real opportunity often comes when all the internal data a company collects can be correlated against external data sources that are often accessed via APIs.

The degree to which vendors inside and outside of the IT industry will follow IBM’s lead in terms of making research available via an API remains to be seen. But as research data becomes more important in decision-making processes, pressure will obviously rise on how research is funded. The days when organizations paid for massive reports could very well give way to a model in which organizations pay to gain continuous access to raw research data via an API that they can invoke in order to analyze data not only as they see fit, but also at their leisure.

Michael Vizard

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