API Driven, Big Data Opportunity in Europe

I just got back from France this week where I was attending API Days in Paris. I thoroughly enjoyed many deep discussions with folks about big data and APIs, coming home with what I feel is a pretty clear difference between the US approach and the potential EU approach to APIs and big data.

I’ve definitely seen an awakening within Europe when it comes to APIs in the last couple of months. It wasn’t just because of this event. I think government and businesses in Europe are seeing the success in the US and genuinely want to understand how they can actively participate in the coming API driven economy.

One significant difference in the EU approach than I’m seeing here in the US is around perspectives on big data, specifically around data ownership, privacy and portability. An article called Big Data Is Not the New Oil, I think captures the US perspective very well. We see big data as something to be monetized, as well as to have meaning derived from--but most importantly monetized.

In Europe, because of tighter restrictions around data ownership and privacy, they see things differently. Big data is truly something that needs to be understood, without the aspirations to monetize every user, relationship, photo and packet flowing through APIs.

I’m sure there are some folks in the EU who have the same capitalist vision that the US has, but overall I saw the potential for a healthier version of the API economy while in France this week. A version I think might be able to pass the US in innovation, because they aren’t focused on monetizing every bit and byte flowing through APIs, but actually looking to solve real problems and find meaning in the big data evolution we are experiencing.