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Adoption of APIs is not a technical problem, it’s a cultural one – Dryden

by: Mark Dryden, business development director at 360 Dot Net
  • 22/10/2018
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Adoption of APIs is not a technical problem, it’s a cultural one – Dryden
With application programming interfaces (APIs) expected to have the biggest transformational effect over the mortgage market in the next three to five years, what is stopping these making an impact right now?

 

After all, the principals and technology behind these fabled APIs have been with us for more than 20 years and in various guises stretching back further.

APIs allow different systems to communicate with each other without necessarily having to know what goes on behind the scenes.

It’s not dissimilar to a restaurant where your server acts as the API carrying orders from your table to the kitchen.

The key is that you don’t really care about what happens in the kitchen just that your food order is fulfilled, delivered and presumably meets expectations.

After all, who really wants to know how sausages are made?

 

Power and influence of data

If we acknowledge that having different systems communicate with each other is going to help the intermediary, the client and providers, why hasn’t this been done already?

The crux of the problem is this is less a technical problem and more a cultural one, especially for certain actors in the process.

After all, if one’s power and influence is located within its own data it surely makes sense to protect it and prevent outside influence.

However, different sectors are slowly recognising the power and efficiencies of opening up their data and allowing other systems and users to interact with this.

One of the great proponents and early influencers of this has been Google with Google Maps that shares all its information for free and contains various ways that individuals can interact with the service, adding additional value to the service with reviews, photos and content.

Financial services though have been slow to pick up on this although there is a slow, but encouraging, realisation of the benefits.

 

Changing thinking is real test

Throughout the value chain of the mortgage and protection industry, the ability to allow different systems to interact will surely become a true differentiator for all involved.

This is tempered where many organisations have made significant investments into their own systems and interfaces, echoing the defensive nature of protecting one’s data.

The head scratcher is that many of the actors in the value chain effectively need much of the same information that is typically re-keyed or passed across in a non-computer readable format requiring human interaction to transfer back into another system.

It sounds crazy, but this is happening today.

For the techies the solution is easy, APIs – it’s just about getting those systems talking with each other.

Yes, there are technical hurdles to overcome, especially those with less nimble legacy systems, but there are established patterns and methods to cover these challenges.

The bigger test is that change in thinking, to consider that open systems that communicate between each other are going to provide transformative benefits, just like they have elsewhere.

 

 

 

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