Innovation in the interface economy – APIs, business value and ecosystems
Thursday 27th May 2021
Application Program Interfaces (APIs) arguably sit at the heart of innovating in this digital era. They allow the integration of cloud services, enable containerised applications (e.g. via Docker) to operate in new ways within Cloud environments, allow developers of all levels to innovate new services quickly and at low cost, and enable new business models such as product platforms and service ecosystems. For example, the explosion of AI technologies is, to a significant degree, enabled by APIs connecting cloud-based Machine Learning ‘Lego’ bricks to create ever new services at the point of need. In this way APIs are underpinning ‘combinatorial innovation’ (Yoo, Boland et al. 2012) of the modern cloud-based world.
Our third DIIESL seminar will bring together insights from academics working on Interfaces, APIs, modularity, and innovation.
Dr Will Venters, London School of Economics and Political Science
Dr Will Venters is an Assistant Professor in Information Systems and Digital Innovation within the Department of Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His research interests include Cloud Computing, Digital Platforms, and Agile innovation approaches. He has a first-class degree in computer science and a PhD in information systems. His research work has been published in major refereed journals including MIS Quarterly, Journal of Information Technology, the Journal of Management Studies, and the Information Systems Journal. He speaks regularly at practitioner conferences on various digital business issues, particularly around Digital Ecosystems, Digital Innovation and Cloud Computing; has briefed European government policy makers and various company executives; and undertakes wide ranging consultancy in IT strategy and Digital transformation. He co-authored the Palgrave book “Moving to the Cloud Corporation” and is the author of a blog on digital technology www.binaryblurring.com and is an associate editor of the Journal Information Technology and People. www.willventers.com
Introduction from IRIS, our sponsor
Professor David Pym, University College London.
Director of IRIS (Interface Reasoning for Interacting Systems), the project funding DIIESL, David will introduce the project’s broad-ranging research into interfacing.
David Pym is a logician, mathematician, and computer scientist. His research is mainly in logic, where he works in pure logic and on developing logic-based methods as a mathematical modelling technology for reasoning about systems, security, and behaviour (see, for example, the EPSRC-funded project IRIS).
He also works in information security, with a focus on individual, organizational, and societal security behaviours. He is Editor-in-Chief of OUP’s Journal of Cybersecurity.
Professor Nigel Patrick Melville, University of Michigan
Generating Business Value from Machine Interfaces: Models of Efficiency, Focus, & Transformation
Machine interfaces enable cost savings, revenue enhancement, and new business models, exemplified by such born-digital companies as Amazon and Salesforce. Firms outside the tech sector are also leveraging machine interfaces to generate business value, but little is known about how this is accomplished. To address this gap in knowledge, we collected primary data from a large educational services provider, a distribution organization, and a healthcare system. Analysis reveals three models of business value enabled by machine interfaces: efficiency, focused, & transformed. Each model requires a different combination of people, process, and technology investment, and offers a unique value proposition. We provide recommendations for management as they consider how best to leverage significant business value opportunities of machine interfaces within their own organizational and competitive contexts.
Nigel Patrick Melville is an award-winning scholar, educator, and consultant. He has published more than 45 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles examining the organizational and ecological implications of digital systems, which have been cited more than 7500 times. Before entering academia, Nigel worked in new product development and R&D with Motorola and co-founded a customer relationship management software company. His academic background includes electrical and computer engineering, information systems, and business management. Link to Homepage
Dr Roser Pujadas, London School of Economics and Political Science
The role of interfaces in fostering digital ecosystems: A study of the online travel service ecosystem Pujadas, R., Valderrama, E., Venters, W. (under review)
Interfaces play a key role in structuring relationships in innovation ecosystems. They facilitate, through the definition of standards, the integration of complementary innovation and coordinate the contribution of distributed, self-interested actors. As such, they have been shown to hold strategic value for platforms to orchestrate complementary innovation. Contributing to this structural understanding of digital ecosystems, our research develops a conceptualization of interfaces as diverse, active, and sometimes contested, participants in a dynamic ecosystem, in which complex and changing relations for value creation develop over time. Through this alternative perspective we show how interfaces are implicated in the establishment of multilateral interdependencies among actors in digital business ecosystems. Crucially, digital interfaces, not only involve the definition of standards, but allow for the on-time circulation and repurposing of data. We show how actors leverage data assets of other firms for the creation of new, interdependent, services through a range of active practices of interfacing. We evidence these contributions through a longitudinal study of the online travel ecosystem. Our empirical research explores the role of interfaces and the dynamics of interfacing in fostering the ecosystem. We show that new hubs, intermediaries, and peripheral actors emerged over time offering new services in an unfolding process of ecosystem growth.
Dr Roser Pujadas is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Information Systems at the London School of Economics (LSE). She is broadly interested in the study of digital infrastructures, and the social and organisational implications of digital innovation. She is currently undertaking research on the role of digital interfaces in the constitution of complex distributed systems, as part of the EPSRC-funded project Interface Reasoning for Interacting Systems (IRIS). Roser is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), and has many years of teaching experience in various institutions. She been a course leader, lecturer and seminar teacher of BSc and MSc courses in the Department of Management at the LSE, where she has worked as an LSE Fellow and as a GTA.
Professor Hans Berends, KIN Center for Digital Innovation, VU
Innovation ecosystems and systems of use: the role of intermediary platforms and users in creating complementary value
Hans Berends (1972) is Professor of Innovation and Organization at the Knowledge, Information and Innovation Research Group, School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He is an organization scientist with a background in philosophy and industrial engineering, and received a PhD from Eindhoven University of Technology for a dissertation on knowledge sharing in industrial research. His work has been published in leading journals including Organization Science, Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Human Relations, and Journal of Product Innovation Management.