We’ve got the third and final installment of Keith Morrow’s three part series, No Time, No Budget, and No People? No Problem! Straight from former CIO of Blockbuster and 7-eleven and current president of K. Morrow Associates, learn how acting like a start-up and maximizing the assets you already have can save you money and precious time when deploying applications in the cloud. Be sure to read parts one and two, too.
Today’s successful companies are those that embrace the API economy to expand their brands and create new opportunities for engaging with customers. In this final piece, we’ll discuss how creating new distribution channels via APIs rapidly creates more opportunities to sell products, reach new audiences and create new markets. Delivering content via multichannel strategies is the ultimate way to ensure that you are accessible how, when and where your customers want you to be.
Focus on Developer / Partner Adoption
The minute we decided to build and publish the API service, we knew we had to build in such a way that allowed our development partners (mobile device and set-top box companies) to adopt it easily and ramp up fast. We kept the APIs simple, only exposing what the partners needed. And we built the API service just as we would a GUI-based application, making sure that the use cases and the error handling were well thought out.
Once you achieve success with the initial applications, you can think about extending the reach of the API set to more developers. In e-commerce, we are all familiar with the affiliate model, where we rely on aggregators such as Commission Junction to deliver traffic to our online stores. Vendors such as PayPal are also enabling third-party developers to build payment solutions on their API platform. In our case, by opening our API service to a greater developer network, we enabled movie review websites and entertainment-oriented Facebook apps to begin using our movie library.
Continue to Protect Your Organization and Customers
Being conservative when it comes to technology adoption is not a bad thing for retail organizations. After all, we want to protect our customers who entrust their private and transactional data with us and mitigate our company’s risks.
As we stitched together new business solutions from existing ones, we continued to verify that the high standards we hold ourselves to in matters of data security, transactional scalability, and consumer privacy are continuously followed. In terms of credit card / transaction processing, we were really sensitive about complying with the PCI standards set forth by the credit card associations. Just because our apps were built quickly with minimal cost didn’t mean we could side step any security and privacy regulations or best practices.
Even though retailers have limited budget and no additional manpower in this recession, they can still innovate and deliver applications that meet customers’ demands for access to product information and the level of collaboration they demand with their social networks. The keys are to act fast; leverage existing enterprise software and data assets; and pragmatically tap into existing cloud computing and API-enabling technology offerings that can help us meet customer, competitive, and marketplace challenges.