I published a piece in MIT Technology Review today titled “Collaborating by Connecting Websites: How an API can help companies market themselves and reach new customers.” In it I argue that the well-designed and well-executed API is becoming a household steroid for explosive growth among established technology companies and start-ups alike, engendering cross-company cooperation and rogue innovation. Here’s an excerpt:
One of the most powerful collaboration tools available is not a piece of software for employees to use on their PCs. Nor is it an enterprise social network used to break down office silos. It is a technology that’s simple, open, and often free: the application programming interface (API).
The API is a set of rules and specifications for sharing data between Internet sites. It lets Web developers access elements of an application or online “platform,” such as Google Maps or Facebook profiles, and integrate the functions into their own sites or applications. Those providing APIs can scale their products or services in an automated fashion, and those implementing APIs can add features to their sites without having to build them from scratch.
You can read the full article on the Technology Review website. I’d love to know what you think, and if you have other good examples of this in action. Share your comments!