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Pearson, the global education firm, is using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to consolidate its sprawling IT systems across global departments.

Pearson, the global education firm, is using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to consolidate its sprawling IT systems across global departments.

The firm behind the Financial Times, Penguin books and popular textbooks and learning materials, has operated a successful API programme - a hub for external partners to use Pearson’s APIs to create apps using its data - since 2012. 

Pearson opened several APIs after its clients demanded an open platform to create bespoke dashboards, applications and web services for their students and classes for free. In return, Allen Rodgers, developer network and API programme director at Pearson, said, the firm has improved customer service, met client demands and boosted its branding by offering these free API keys. 

Additionally, Pearson occasionally opens its APIs to non-clients free of charge, including not-for-profit company Girls in Technology, Rodgers told ComputerworldUK.

But now the firm is turning to internal APIs to increase the gateways between departments across global regions. These internal APIs will help build a common platform for companies within Pearson's portfolio, as well as across its education departments, to create products and integrate data across its IT systems to glean business insights.

“We have around 200 APIs, each with 10 end points, but there will be a lot more. We have 45,000 people and we do everything from running institutions in UK or South Africa, for example, to producing exams and textbooks.”

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Despite its innovative API platform, Pearson is only realising how APIs can benefit Pearson, as opposed to its external partners, Rodgers said. The firm is embarking on a process - that may last several years - of trial and error testing to see which APIs are the most successful.

Rodgers said: “The challenge is the way industry is going in terms of digital. Trying to understand data from each of these systems is forcing us to move these systems into a newer tech stack; in the interim we can simply add APIs.

“We will have thousands of APIs over the next couple of years as and as we expose them, some will be more useful than others. Over the next five years will get to a reasonable set.

“Pearson will be less and less reliant on management systems and intermediary platforms.”

Pearson brought in Apigee’s API management platform when it first began to consider APIs for its clients in 2010.