This Fortune article drills down into the world of APIs (application programming interface). An API is a building block of a program much like an amino acid is a building block of protein.
The article goes on to explain how APIs will integrate everything and to everybody. What does that mean to you? Travel, leisure, work, socializing made easier, more expedient and productive through technology.
As my clients grasp the portent of this message, they stop arguing about whether or not they need to build an online brand and have a big digital footprint. They see the value of having a website of their own. And, they realize how crucial it is to stay up to date t
Businesses must embrace the programmable world. Or die.
October 22, 2013: 10:49 AM ET
How APIs are disrupting every business.
By Promod Haque
FORTUNE -- The havoc the Internet has wrought on traditional business already dwarfs previous economic transformations, but we haven't seen anything yet. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are now facing a massive digital disruption that will permeate their cores. Information technology has been working its way into business processes for decades, but this is different: The apps, data and APIs that are driving this digital transformation are not just enabling business; they are becoming its very fabric. Whether digital native or analog immigrant, today's digital pioneers recognize that an app strategy is the key to customer engagement, user experience and business success.
The programmable world depends on a powerful and flexible digital-ecosystem infrastructure that is invisible to the user. Implementing and managing all this hidden complexity is a massive undertaking, and most companies lack the necessary resources.
One element critical to the programmable world -- API management -- is particularly complex. Fortunately, this complexity can be offloaded onto API platforms like Apigee (disclaimer: one of our portfolio companies), which is already enabling businesses such as Walgreens (WAG), Marks & Spencer and eBay (EBAY) to build powerful digital ecosystems that transform their business, without losing their focus on core competencies.
For example, Walgreens uses APIs to leverage existing photo-printing services, letting customers print photos directly from their mobile phones to a local Walgreens store. The company has found that customers who engage with Walgreens in person, online and via mobile apps spend six times more than those who only visit stores.
Similarly, AppDirect uses open APIs and IaaS with a new platform that connects developers to channel partners across different industries. This lets companies like Staples (SPLS) and Bell Canada (BCE) launch state-of-the-art app stores in just a matter of weeks.
These app stores have ushered in a mobile post-PC era in which people increasingly expect a rich and personalized experience that seamlessly spans any app and device. Open-API platforms like Twilio help to enrich the mobile experience by letting developers add voice and messaging functionality to their applications.
In the transportation industry, Twilio powers the Uber mobile communications platform that connects passengers to drivers of vehicles for hire. Customers tap a smartphone button, and the Uber cloud matches them to the nearest available member limo. Payment is made through the smartphone, so no cash is involved.
In the hospitality industry, Twilio underlies Airbnb, which provides a trusted community for listing, finding, and booking unique accommodations around the world. The Airbnb cloud matches travelers with lodgings ranging from apartments for a night to villas for a month, and helps property owners to promote and monetize unused spaces. Participants can text each other through Airbnb anonymously, without revealing their phone numbers.
Emerging digital ecosystems
However, the really big opportunity is in helping traditionally analog industries -- such as healthcare, professional services, manufacturing and consumer packaged goods -- to emigrate to the programmable world.
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