single development framework and apply it in many situations,
across applications, and across vendor-provided tool sets. A standard
and consistently designed API also makes data mining more accessi-
ble to developers. Companies using data mining can choose from
multiple, competing products while ensuring that their developers
need not retool to a completely different way of developing applica-
tions. Companies can select products more on the merits of their
capabilities than on what product their developers currently use or
are familiar with. Moreover, applications solving business problems
can take advantage of the capabilities of multiple data mining prod-
ucts more easily since the interface is standard. The risks associated
with using a proprietary API such as vendor longevity or costly
application rewrites due to changing vendors are greatly reduced.
With a standard API, applications no longer need to be completely
rewritten to adapt to a different vendor's interface.
As noted earlier, standards normally involve input from many
diverse individuals and companies. De facto standards may reflect a
marketplace consensus—sometimes resulting from a monopoly-like
reign in an industry. However, open standards, like the Java Commu-
nity Process, have the benefit of providing interfaces that can meet a
broader set of needs due to input from participants with a broader
range of experience and needs. Drawing on both vendors and con-
sumers helps ensure a standard is both implementable and usable.
Innovation also benefits from standards; small enterprises includ-
ing start-ups can join the big players on a level playing field pro-
vided by an open standards forum. Further, vendors can compete on
features and performance, instead of on the interface. Customers do
not have to feel they are taking as much of a risk adopting a small
vendor's solution since they will be developing against a standard
interface. Just as it is a benefit for customers to be able to change ven-
dors more easily, it is also a benefit to vendors because a customer
may be more willing to change vendors when competing on price or
level of functionality.
The existence of standards also frees vendors from having to rein-
vent the wheel. Instead of expending resources to design alternative
APIs, vendors can apply engineering resources to enhancing func-
tionality and performance.
When some of the best minds come together to design a standard,
often the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That is, new
ideas arise that make the standard better than any one vendor could
have done independently.