Guest post by Jerry Cuomo. Jerry Cuomo, an IBM Fellow and chief technology officer, provides technical direction and strategy for the next generation of innovation and value and is focused on several areas including cloud, mobile, virtualization, and advanced analytics. Follow him on Twitter @jerrycuomo or read his blog on IBM DeveloperWorks.

Mobile technologies are opening up virtually limitless opportunities for organizations to create, iterate and manage new applications that engage users in nearly every aspect of their lives. From house hunting and fitness monitoring to managing business projects and communicating with colleagues, broadening access to applicationprogramming interfaces (APIs) has created an economy that is exploding with possibilities for new business development.

Many established organizations have been benefitting from the API economy for years, and the number of private and public APIs has been growing exponentially. In fact, the number of open APIs is projected to reach 30,000 by 2016, which has the potential to level the playing field and allow organizations of all sizes to compete in new ways.

While combining APIs for new apps tends to be based on the art of identifying symbiotic relationships like weather, maps, and music preferences, some interesting combinations are stretching the possibilities of what APIs can enable. For example, developers are marrying APIs for speech recognition, the Internet of things, and cognitive computing to build completely new models for elementary education and engaging adults in their children’s’ learning processes.

The evolution of the API economy can be attributed to the interactions of two distinct groups — API providers and API consumers. An example of an API provider could be a bank that turns its online mortgage calculator into a service by exposing APIs to other organizations and enabling them to offer those capabilities to their customers, without having to develop the functionality on their own. An API consumer could be a real estate company that uses multiple APIs, like a mortgage calculator, maps, and reviews of local attractions, to provide relevant app-based services to its clients.

Driven by increasing business requirements and consumer expectations, the rapid pace of mobile app development has given rise to a growing community of “impatient” developers.

These developers excel at taking their app’s core value proposition, and mashing it up with various third-party APIs to feed the accelerated development cycles required to constantly update and add new features. For example, developers don’t need to spend time creating a mapping tool when there are various trusted APIs for existing geolocation services already available.

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