Intel and Mashery have extended an invite for me to speak at their upcoming annual Business of APIs (BAPI) conference both in NYC on October 8, and in London on October 29. Now in its seventh year, the BAPI conference series has helped business and technical decision-makers from companies of all sizes capitalize on the rapid changes that everyone experiences around the globe in technology and business. My presentation focusses on some of the lessons learned when building an open developer platform within a well-established global technology enterprise – Sabre.
Sabre recently launched Sabre Dev Studio, which allows developers from travel companies, online travel sites, start-ups, meta-search and social sites, to access more than 150 APIs. Dev Studio also provides testing tools, documentation, prototypes and sample code, as well as other resources available from Sabre in an open developer community.
As you can imagine, the process of launching Dev Studio was no small feat. Below are a few key points from the presentation I gave during yesterday’s BAPI conference in New York; how the Sabre team created a startup culture within the walls of Sabre:
1) Find your executive believer – Identify a passionate leader with a long track record of disruptive accomplishments who will be a constant advocate for your vision.
2) Look beyond your industry – Some of the best success cases can often come from other industries and inventors… to connect the dots, you have to understand who “created the dots.”
3) Gut check time – From a product perspective, you have to embrace the fact that you cannot be everything to everybody, and innovation will often come from new and unfamiliar places.
4) Strike a balance – Emerging business can easily become a shiny new toy, but don’t get tunnel-vision and lose sight on the potential benefits and opportunities with existing customers. Conversely, avoid an isolationist business case that only focuses on new markets/ventures.
5) Ready, set, wait… – From usability, to exposing unfinished services, to signing new customers and crafting new types of agreements, you cannot afford to wait to have everything lined up perfectly. The more successes and learnings you can prove early on, the better.
6) Don’t get married to a business model day one – Formulate many, isolate a few, and determine which resonate best for you and your customers. Don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole… the more you engage, the more you will learn… and optimal models will emerge.
7) Expose anything that slows you down early, loudly, and often – With any major sea-change initiative, there are many moving and inter-related parts. Any one snag (no matter how small) can quickly have a snowball effect. Relentlessly expose them.
8) There’s no such thing as a “shared resource”– Perhaps a bit absolutist, but you have to have the commitment that you will receive the dedicated support necessary in every area required to be successful for at least the first 12-18 months.
9) Pick your partners – you can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything on your own. View the new business and platform holistically, and determine which components can be deployed better, faster, and cheaper by others.
10) Walk the walk – It’s not just about having a new platform, business model, and/or business pursuits. The culture, marketing efforts, business processes, and people within your organization need to adapt to a new way of doing business – stress test these areas often.
Initially, success was directional, as our team entered a new market with new products and new business models. Overtime, a higher level of fidelity in our measurements / metrics emerged. Presently, we’ve implemented real-time campaign and usage analytics to better understand how we’re performing in terms of marketing vehicles, and usage/adoption. Since our launch in May, we’ve had over 1,400 users register on the developer.sabre.com website with over 21,000 site visits.
Be sure to catch all the BAPI conference action via Twitter using #bapi14 hashtag and follow @Sabre_Corp for real-time updates during my presentation at the Jazz at Lincoln Center and on October 29 in London at Altitude 360.