January 16, 2013

APIs Change Business

 

Here at Mashery, we believe in the transformative nature of APIs.  We hear from our customers and partners every day about the power of APIs to build new business models, new partnerships and new channels.  This fall, our Business of APIs (BAPI) conferences, gave us the opportunity to highlight our customers and how APIs transformed their business. 

ESPN and Cisco provided great examples. Summaries of their presentations are below, but I encourage you to watch the videos in their entirety (links below). 

ESPN

During his BAPI presentation, Director of APIs, Chris Jason focused a lot on the growth experienced from ESPN’s API program.  Most impressively, since launching the program in March of 2012, ESPN has 50 outside companies using its data through their API.  Half of these companies are strategic partners, that include the likes of If This Then That, Foursquare, Xbox 360 and Nokia

On top of strategic partnerships, ESPN also has 16 outside development companies working with their API helping them build apps such as ScoreCenter, ESPN Radio for iOS and ESPN Experience for the Nokia Lumia phones

Their API has given ESPN the ability to greatly reduce the onboarding complexity for business development.  In the past, ESPN used XML feeds, where it could take a few weeks to get a new partner authenticated.  Now that process is greatly simplified with ESPN Developer Center.  Partners can request access and within minutes see what data is available and how they can use it.

APIs allowed ESPN to create new ad experiences that were not possible before.  During March Madness, ESPN partnered with Duracell to run ads that included live score updates.  During the Olympics, they worked with Samsung to provide live medal count updates in ads.

Cisco

Cisco found many customers were scraping their sites to get basic information and were not happy with pre-formulated data feeds. So they began developing APIs in conjunction with some of their biggest customers. This allowed customers and partners to manipulate the data and fit it into their existing systems.  

Cisco realized APIs were not only boosting their own support productivity, but that of their customers.  Customers have been able to use Cisco’s data in way that makes sense for them. They are able to create more products and grow their business.  The API has been a win-win for both Cisco and its customers.

Cisco also found that in terms of investment, APIs made monetary sense.  Instead of investing millions of dollars and pouring months into complex B2B systems, they were able to set up an API program for much less money and in a shorter time. 

ESPN and Cisco have had very different experiences with their API.  Their APIs were built for different reasons: ESPN wanted to make it easier to build more digital products with its data so that sports fans could access ESPN anywhere, on any device. Cisco wanted to make it easier for its customers to do business with them as well as their own customers.   Both have found great success with their API programs so far and are sure to see the influence of their APIs grow in the future. 

These types of stories of APIs transforming business are becoming more and more common.  Soon, these will be the rule and not the exception. If you are interested in creating an API program, contact us today!