Rise of Open Movement – Open Source, Open Innovation and Open APIs

This post is by , Vice President – Technology, Testing Platform Delivery at Accenture

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Anonymous

Part-1 – Success of Open Innovation

Open Source Movement has been picking a lot of traction recently. Netscape’s major announcement to open source Navigator in 1998 to compete with Internet Explorer was a good one. Open Source movement progressed since early 80’s with GNU.  Real thrust came to the fore with the success of Linux and all the brilliant tools with peculiar acronyms (such as LAMP, MEAN etc.). Wikipedia also made open editing and contribution a successful one. An example of Crowd Sourcing, Open Innovation, and innovative reuse in an implicit manner.

I pondered over a couple of articles I came across recently that made me think and amaze with awe. This highlights how important Open Source has become in the past 3 decades.

Not only this, all the brilliant technology Leaders and Big Players have their own Open Source Ecosystems. They take the technology world to the next level. Some examples to share are

Coming to the global list of innovators, it is a welcome act. It gives a lot of credibility to these innovators, acts as a magnet and a recruitment channel.  It also generates a lot of goodwill globally amongst customers and market.  Yet, it has its drawbacks- such as security, skills gap, supportability, and many variants emerging.

Not much of contributions from startups and leaders from emerging markets. Some major contributors for some of the marquee projects are from these countries. Hopefully ,this pattern will change soon.

“Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.” ― Robin S. Sharma

Part-II – Emergence of Open Innovation

Over the past decade, Open Innovation  has been doing rounds. Ever Since the origination by Professor Chesbrough a lot of adoption has emerged.  A lot of brilliant examples exists (where market leading innovators have established an eco-system for innovators and entrepreneurs). A good list of brilliant innovations (be it automobile makers creating innovative design via open innovation, Global giants getting innovative ideas across the globe via initiatives) is available publically.

Open innovation is the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively. [This paradigm] assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology. –  Prof. Henry Chesbrough

The Digital world is opening up so fast and is definitely moving in the right direction. Fast innovators leverage the wisdom of crowds. A lot of services firms are are collaborating with many stakeholders. Firms work with Product partners, academic institutes, and clients to propel innovation. It could be a lab, an incubation center, a Joint-venture, or a productivity and innovation council. A recent article by McKinsey clearly outlines that Partnering will be important to shaping the future.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

Open Innovation is a broad-based theme and is not confined to a technology or a product. Implementation can be easier. It could be a business process. (say a co-opetition -wherein cross-bank ATM withdrawal was introduced first by Barclays that became a norm) . It could be across firms or industries, or a business process model change or a technology change. The options are just limitless.

Some good video/Examples on Open Innovation include

A brilliant video on Open Innovation: Proudly found elsewhere

Another brilliant video on Open Innovation – Diana Kander a celebrated author

A decade old view on Open Innovation that is still relevant for today’s context<

“There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

Part-III – Brilliance of Open APIs

Now on to the third part of the article, Open APIs. Open APIs can change the way the digital world works. For example, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter Authentication can act as a digital passport for users. Facebook APIs (orPlatform) have opened up a new way to give authentication to a user across various channels. Same applies to other Social media APIs opening up infinite possibilities.  For example, WeChat app with 600 million monthly active users has millions of apps in its platform to support.

Open APIs and Platforms (when used correctly) can certainly propel ease of integration and rapid launch of products and services.

I came across an article by Light Reading –  (Nine of the world’s biggest service providers hope to realize major business benefits from the use of Open APIs. ). Few of the large enterprises I worked with have agreed on plans to adopt the TMForum built APIs for their infrastructure. One of the key messages by an IT leader is how painful it was to move away from 4500+ apps to 1800+ apps.

What will happen if everyone has clusters of walled gardens within big walled garden?  It makes sense to ease the pain of integration with simplified standards. For Service Providers, Open APIs and Platforms can propel ease of integration and rapid launch of products and services.

“What is now proved was once only imagined.” – William Blake

I worked in three TMForum Catalysts project a decade ago. We produced standard contracts (akin to an API construct) for integration between various apps. It was  a well-constructed Proof-of-concept,  albeit a bit ahead of time for acceptance of Open Standards.  The time is ripe for industrializing the Open APIs for telco firms. Given Financial, and Telecom Industries spend nearly twice the amount spent by other industries in IT, they will enjoy this initiative.   Implementation of Frameworx (or eTOM/SID/TAM as it was known earlier,MTOSI etc.) as an Open API will definitely help. API Developers, product vendors will have their tasks simplified as well.

For  financial services, governmental services, retail industries – a standard will definitely help.  Just like what ETSI, HIPAA or PCI or FIPS standard does to various industries.

Part-IV – An idea for Open API innovation

Coming to think of it, I thought it would make sense for Healthcare industry to have an Open API construct.  This is because existing standards are bit inundated from a technology standpoint and have become a legacy standard. For making these technologies modern, a new age IT focus need to come to the fore to modernize the monolithic legacy applications.

If one builds an Open API framework for Healthcare Industry –  for example, EMR/EHR in an HIPAA/PHI Compliant Manner. Exposing these APIs that allows aggregation of data across the industry. Payers, Providers, Care Services Providers, Health Agencies, Pharmaceutical firms, Pharma Benefit Managers, Third Party Adjudicators, and Service Providers can use these APIs.

Everything was better when everything was worse – David Sipress

Benefits delivered by such approach would be

  • Value Enabling customizable, customer data integration using standard APIs
  • Future-centric , standardized architecture that could foster innovation internally and externally
  • Rapid Digital Enablement for extra services
  • Ability to offer APIs as a business to generate revenue streams. Such as  Google Maps API, Facebook, Twitter to drive ad revenues and pay-per-use secure data delivery services.
  • Ability to sell content / research as a service via APIs
  • Prescriptive Healthcare (be it medicine or care services) based on secure access to the customer vitals.
  • Opens up Omni-channel healthcare ecosystem. Across payer, provider, pharmaceuticals, pharmacies, consumers, companies, suppliers, care services firms etc.
  • Data-centric innovation opportunities across eco-system
  • Central bodies have a view on entire eco-system (say for example – CMS, NIH, NHS etc. )


I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I definitely feel that Open API, Open Innovation, and Open Source Movement will succeed. The password “Open Sesame” has been uttered, we just need to wait for the magic to happen. What is your take on this topic? Comments welcome.

Disclaimer: This is an Influencer post. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire and the editor(s). This article was initially published here

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