APIs Can Open Up Your Company To Outside Ideas

I talk about this concept often, but couldn't find any definitive post on APIs opening up a company, organization, or agency to outside ideas. This is something I hear from startups, up to federal government agencies, and from well known business brands, such as Absolut Vodka.

Absolut was one of the keynotes at API Strategy & Practice in Amsterdam, this last march. Eva Sjokvist, from Absolut, walked us through the development of their Absolut Drinks Database API. An amazing story by itself, but one thing she said that stood out to me, which is an interestingly common by-product of the API lifecycle, was the process itself opened up the company, making it more receptive to outside ideas, and collaboration.

I hear this sentiment often from groups who are developing API programs at their companies, and you see shining examples, like from Edmunds.com with their internal API Summit, but rarely do I see a metric to measure API driven, cultural change. APIs don't just open up your company’s assets and resources for access by trusted partners, or potentially the public, establishing a sort of external R&D lab, it has the potential to open up a valuable feedback loop as well, bringing in new ideas that have the potential to change how a group sees the world--evolving internal culture.

The potential for opening up a company, bringing them closer to their partners and customers, or a government agency, opening up healthier dialogue with constituents, is the most important results of an API program—greater than any single application that will get built on an API.