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News & Insights

News & Insights

The Reality API

A few years ago, I spoke of a promised land of interlocking APIs aggregating disparate yet authoritative sources of information, so that information services could provide up-to-the-minute data accuracy. If a corporate office were to move or an executive be promoted, those changes could be reflected far and wide and accurately. I now believe that future is only five years or less away from becoming reality.

The recent and long overdue move by the IRS to make Form 990 data on millions of U.S. non-profit organizations open and publicly available by 2016 may be the tipping point. It will let thousands of firms, both information services and potentially every CRM licensee, to keep their databases up-to-date in near real-time using the direct integration of multiple APIs, or, more likely, with the help of API aggregators.

This dataset may prove to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The decision on 990 data sets the stage for the inevitable release of core IRS data on all U.S. taxpaying entities. When this massive dataset becomes accessible via IRS-based API, it will allow dozens of critical datapoints to be updated instantly using only an entity’s employee identification number. Changes to a company’s legal name, executive staff, age and gender of executives, addresses, phone numbers, etc. can all be updated at nearly the moment of the change.

I believe that in time, companies will widely use their own managed APIs. This will ensure that standardized, current, accurate company information is readily available to satisfy the demands of customers, partners, investors, and federal regulators. The infrastructure for the central government’s internal need to require a notice of receipt of various official notifications is accelerating this change.

In this world, custom B2B information services can avoid the great expense of maintaining huge, unwieldy databases. Instead, they can focus on building richer, unique data based on in-depth surveys, inferential algorithms, and other indicators of “intention.”

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