Wouldn't it be wonderful? The car industry will come together, agree on a set of common business data standards and become leading actors in a competitive global plug-and-play API ecosystem. This will allow them to trade data and services and create new business opportunities for themselves and a new generation of startups.
I believe we can get there, but the speed of progress will be determined by traditional enterprises and their supplier networks.
Business data standardization happens when two organizations need to exchange data in a reliable fashion, often as a result of contractual obligations and financial incentives. The core requirement is software that can produce data according to the provided specification. ISO 8000 provides a framework for such bilateral data standards. But the global API community views such data standards between two parties as just the first step towards their dream of a truly global data exchange standard.
However, global standards need consortiums of like-minded organizations and only come about through external pressures, such as safety or consumer protection. Without legislative deadlines, such consortiums tend to divert or even break down and competing standards emerge. In the automotive space, we already see this with the ISO and W3C standards for connected vehicle data.
In 2013, airlines identified a need to create direct distribution channels and weaken the existing booking and distribution networks. The IATA created a standards framework to distribute tickets, services, and content via third-party vendors. The IATA NDC standard launched in 2016.
Roughly a dozen airlines were in the original committee. British Airways released early but implemented a different standard. Others only used a subset of the services or added restrictions. Some members departed, new members joined. Today, 7 years later, IATA NDC lists 22 airlines on their leaderboard out of 800 commercial airlines.
Unfortunately, there is no information on which airlines implemented which parts of the standard and how far they diverge from the latest version. However, out of the many industry-led initiatives, I argue IATA NDC is actually one of the successful ones. But it still falls far short of the vision of a global API data standard.
From my perspective, there are three significant challenges carmakers face in creating a global car data standard.
I strongly believe our economy will achieve huge gains in productivity and competitiveness by adopting an API ecosystem. Corporations and supplier ecosystems will become more resilient and competitive, while stakeholders will enjoy the benefits of easy data exchange. To get there, industry-specific business data standards must be adopted. But this means we must solve the challenges faced by corporations.
Education. Continuing to educate corporate management and employees in proven intrapreneurship techniques such as agile methods and design thinking will help form more effective and faster-executing teams for specific topics outside of the usual corporate context. Keeping up with fast-paced environments, such as the rising API ecosystem, will help corporations adopt new business models and thus incentivize them to contribute.