Top API Data Room Integrations that We NeedAuthor: Kathryn Gaw
Data is arguably any modern businesses most valuable asset. You just have to look at any of the ‘unicorns’ (start-ups valued at over $1 billion) to see that their balance sheet isn’t dominated by vast amounts of capital or inventory. Their value is in the data they possess, not just so that it can be used by marketers and advertisers to reap value, but because it gives them the potential to start to tailor their offerings and create customer-specific value.
With virtual data rooms, the importance of data is a little more straight forward and easy to understand. Most companies use virtual data rooms when undertaking large financial transactions such as mergers and acquisitions or partnerships because they have the potential to expedite the due diligence process. While this use of virtual data rooms tends to be on a deal-by-deal basis, companies are increasingly shifting to using data rooms to store and manage all of their data, including employee and customer data, as a way of simplifying and realizing efficiency gains that virtual data rooms offer over more traditional data solutions.
With this transition, the role of virtual data room shifts from being this static repository of deal related information to become a network of multiple data bases that communicate with each other and with the processes of data collection and generation – or at least this is what virtual data rooms need to become.
Data integration is still in its early days in virtual data rooms as most providers have left the hard work to engineers working on open APIs (application programming interfaces). APIs are essentially a set or requirements, or rules, that govern how one application communicated for another. An open API is simply an API that is available to the public, which allows developers to gain access to the proprietary software or web service so that they can integrate it with existing services. For example, Facebook and Twitter make use of open APIs to integrate each service so that something you share on your Facebook wall can be easily and simultaneously shared to your Twitter feed.
What all this means is that instead of shouldering the responsibility to improve the integration and bridging of data centers, providers are basically saying, “Here are the tools to fix the problem” but are not actually fixing it. This works when the ‘consumers’ of open APIs, third party developers, stand to make money from licencing their products that integrate systems. With virtual data room, not a household service that has been integrated into everyday life, leaving it up to developers is not likely to work.
The issue with using open APIs as a solution to the data room integration problems is that they require direction – a proverbial list of goals. Without knowing what they need to achieve, developers cannot effectively integrate the data process. Before this can happen, virtual data room providers need to what is they are trying to accomplish. Vendors of data room services need to come together and collaborate on the basis of merit, rather than focusing on strategic competition by locking in consumers to their own products.
While as consumers, we may still want access to APIs, what we really need is for data solution products, such as virtual data rooms, to come off the shelf with the ability to communicate with each other and with our devices in a manner that lowers risks, reduces costs of inputs and that increased productivity of communication processes.
For the virtual data room industry to progress and achieve any real sense of integration, be it vertical or within the architecture of single systems, providers will have to put down their weapons for a minute and work towards this common goal. There are many predefined areas of data integration that can be worked on including, but not limited to data migration, data correlation and data aggregation. These all aim to make data agnostic (compatible) and usable to businesses by looking at the data patterns and optimising and adapting them to meet specific business needs.
Virtual data room providers can scarcely afford to get stuck up in the myopia that their current set of data solution tools will ensure their prolonged existence. The technological and virtual world is ever changing – data integration needs to happen now and it needs to happen fast.