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Parasitic Integrations vs. Symbiotic

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Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the winner take all mentality of Silicon Valley. Or maybe it’s a manifestation of a selfish “I gotta get mine” ethos that seems to be growing in our increasingly isolationist society.

Wherever it comes from, the touted “openness” of technology systems today seems less about coexisting symbiotically and more about sucking value out of one solution for the benefit of of the other.

API-first application design has been around for 5 years at least, so a growing number of developers are focused on creating technology whose functionality and data can be easily “consumed” by a variety of client applications. But as with parasites, consumption can be harmful to the host.

Openness is good for the industry, and it’s good for users. The ability to mix and match technologies in a modular way through APIs can be magical. But when “open” really means a one-way valve that the parasite uses to suck value from the host application, nobody wins in the long run. Especially the enterprise and users.

Parasitic integrations can also directly or indirectly infect an organization. Among the many symptoms are a proliferation of unneeded systems, a growing number of data silos, more time wasted toggling between applications, and more cognitive downtime from task switching.

All of these end up costing people more time. Which leads to more time working. An epidemic in itself.

Sadly, parasites can have very long lives. Fortunately, as with organic systems, organizations can also develop natural immunities.

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