Over a three-hour period on Sunday afternoon, webhookie’s server posted (as in “HTTP POST”) clues (sets of questions) to URLs under which participants had subscribed to the API hunt. Behind these URLs participants ran simple web servers, able to receive and process webhookie’s calls. In our case we simply fed the incoming clues into a spreadsheet, and our team organized the (manual) hunt for answers from that spreadsheet. The answers to some of the questions in a clue could be assembled into an URL, to be called with the full set of answers to the respective clue as the payload. In that manner, we worked our way from clue to clue against the ticking clock, very much like an Escape Room challenge is organized.
In addition to having been great fun, it was a great reminder and demonstration of the technology being available and ready for event-driven data integration and process automation across companies. Many of the interactions between stakeholders in global transportation are in fact event-driven processes: party A takes an action because party B notifies of the arrival of goods or documents at some stage of the routing, as the most obvious example. If a disruption occurs, the notification may be of a delay or an alternative routing. Despite these inherently event-driven interactions, data and information exchange along the transport chain is traditionally based on a polling model: party A checks every few hours if party B lists the status of the cargo as “unloaded”, for example. This creates process waste, unnecessary latency, and lengthy reaction cycles.
Industry-specific protocols that support event-driven interactions through a “publish and subscribe” pattern are slowly getting traction (such as IATA’s ONE Record). However, many of the industry participants appear to be stuck in more costly and less performant methods of data exchange. A common misconception is “we’re not ready yet for the new stuff, we’re still struggling with getting the old stuff to work” – when the “new stuff” is in fact cheaper and easier to implement. The technology is there – it just takes the business sense and willingness to actually do it.
You can find out more about webhookie’s offering at their website. For an interesting use case on enabling event-driven collaboration in the pharma supply chain check out this video of their winning entry in the recent IATA IoT Challenge.
PS: Congratulations to Arun Velu for beating us to the API hunt finish by 2 points with 120 seconds left on the clock!