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Do not approach mobile strategy as series of one-offs: Mashery

Brands and retailers must integrate mobile into their overall long-term multichannel strategy, stay on top of trends in application programming interface development and make it a priority for 2011.

That is according to Mashery, a provider of API management and strategic services that conducted a survey of industry leaders, partners and API providers at Mashery’s Business of APIs conferences in London, New York and San Francisco. It revealed than 64 percent of API providers cite “fostering third-party innovation” as a top priority for 2011.

API providers are increasingly opening up data for consumption by third-party developers with whom they have no formal business relationship, letting those developers access business data that they can reconfigure, repurpose or even combine with other sets of data in mashups to create applications for consumer or business use.

These partnerships put organizations’ data assets in the hands of more people who can use them, spreading influence and opening up new revenue channels, per Mashery.

Seventy-one percent of those surveyed already count third-party developers as key consumers of their APIs.

Mobile Commerce Daily’s Dan Butcher interviewed Randi Barshack, vice president of marketing at Mashery, San Francisco. Here is what she had to say:

What is the key finding of the survey?
There were a few important findings in the survey.

The most visible finding was the overwhelming prioritization on fostering third-party innovation as a priority for API providers in 2011.

What is the most surprising finding and why?
The articulation of fostering third-party innovation as a strong priority, which was well ahead of the second-most-popular pick—get on as many devices as possible—definitely surprised us.

While “getting on as many devices as possible” was identified as a strong priority, we would have thought this would have been the obvious strongest choice.

The outcome of the survey, however, indicates that API providers may be looking at third-party developers as the key to getting on all of those devices.

What advice can you give to brands, agencies, publishers and retailers/merchants based upon these findings?
There are two levels of advice that we would give to brands, agencies, publishers and retailers.

First and foremost, please, please, please do not approach your mobile strategy as a series of one-offs.

With hundreds of devices on the market and more and more digital devices that do not even look like phones—billboards, POS displays, connected gaming devices and social platforms—if you take a “what to do next” approach, you will always be behind.

APIs are the key to a platform approach that can leverage and accelerate development on all levels—internal, partner and third-party.

This platform approach is the only way that provides even a chance for brands, publishers and retailers to stay on top of the rapid innovation going on in terms of ways in which consumers are demanding they interact with content.

On a more practical API-approach level, the advice that we give that is heavily supported by the findings in the study is that APIs—and the data and services provided via them—need to be consumed and built upon by internal consumers, as well as external and third parties.

Third-party innovation is a phenomenal concept that can indeed foster thinking and ideas that might not exist within the walls of any given single organization.

Still, we caution that relying solely on outsiders to consume your API and develop something on top is not a magic pill that will create new business channels for you.

The most successful API programs balance a healthy mix of internal and external API consumption.

This is supported by the fact that so many API providers in our survey employ a mix of internal and external innovation, external being both partners and third-parties.

Final Take
Best Buy in Mashery’s Circus Mashimus Lounge at SXSW