We are nearing the time when opening our supply chains across the Web isn’t just a good idea, it will be essential for competitive survival….open APIs have become an increasingly vital story for Web startups and traditional firms alike to cost effectively partnership, expand the reach of their products, and drive their network effect deeply across the Web. (source)
(If anyone needs an API refresher, this Quora thread may help.) Uber’s opening of its API recently has shone the light down yet again on the immense power of the new tech ecosystem and its relational capabilities. But along with it, we’re forced to ask the question, “Are APIs making the biz dev role obsolete?”
My take is an astounding SHIT NO! Forget that stale view of BD as a Sales Guy traveling the country with the same suit and coffee stained breath bouncing from conference to conference. The best partnerships are distribution focused and that means making the execution as seamless and easy as possible so you can get to the good stuff. What most people outside BD departments don’t realize is that the logistics of deals, particularly large ones, are often the number one killer of them. I’ve seen many win-win deals die – or worse yet, not even get to negotiation points – because they simply look like big ol’ task lists to one (or both) sides when on paper. And even if agreements do get signed, the real work starts during implementation.
Open or self-serve APIs alleviate a gigantic choke point in that process. Sure, they also replace some of a BD person’s day-to-day responsibilities, but I don’t see that as a negative. Done right, a partnership built on an open API reduces friction in the activation process, freeing us up to do what we do best – identify and secure revenue-enhancing deals. Furthermore, APIs open up new partnership opportunities, which gives us more work to do.
Here, check out the 11 partnerships Uber promoted as it launched its API. Now, I ask you: Would these have existed without an API?