I recently rediscovered the joy of an old childhood favorite of mine. Lego! With a bucket full of Lego bricks, I can build all sorts of unique creations (aided by a lot of imagination from a very young assistant), then pull them apart and build something entirely new. There is no limit to what I can make. Best of all, I don’t need to buy another box of Lego to build something completely different. By just moving around the pieces you already have, you can design and build a whole new plaything.
I was reflecting on the above when doing some work to transform a client’s approach to their online customer experience. I believe that the API economy allows the same approach to designing and building new business solutions.
APIs give an impressive ability to quickly restructure internal systems and integrate new solutions to support transformative projects. They let you reconfigure existing business assets to address new challenges – without having to start from the ground up. They also make it easier for external developers to build consumer-friendly apps that extend your business reach. Building a modular solution that borrows from existing assets and that can easily be repurposed in the future, has obvious advantages. Especially when compared with bespoke solutions that may or may not meet future demands.
User-centric companies and social networks like Salesforce, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix have all made existing services accessible through APIs, to great success. This approach has helped all of them reach customers in new ways, and establish new revenue streams.
In my example above, the client wanted to enhance its customers’ web experience. We looked at the current online journey, mapped out better ones, and then used existing assets (from both parties) to make it happen. It was a quick, targeted transformation that benefitted from the API economy.
In my next article, I’ll go into further detail about what we did, brick by brick.