The Dangers of Ignoring the API Revolution

[Editor’s note: This is a part of a series of blog posts summarizing the proceedings from the recent Nordic Tour.]

TwilioWe were really glad to have Ben Nunney, European Marketing at Twilio, with us on the recent Nordic Tour. His jokes and inspiring stories were a fantastic wrapup in each of the four Nordic capitals we visited. In his talk, Connection Not Found: The Dangers of Ignoring the API Revolution, Ben explained that APIs are really a way for us to talk to each other. The API revolution is another part of the story of how technology is enabling us to communicate. In previous generations, this technological communication innovation was the telephone, but these days its APIs.

Ben NunneyHe touched on a number of use cases where machine-to-human interactions have brought people together. For example, in Bristol, England, various infrastructure object like lamp posts and post boxes were given an SMS number. This allowed people to “converse” with the city, for the city to communicate back, and for the town’s occupants to talk to each other in previously unimaginable ways. He also told about how Coca Cola used Twitter to enable vending machines to identify a local contractor when repairs were needed. Ben also talked about a case where local employment services were able to promote work opportunities to marginalized, homeless youth. Each of these cases helped Twilio think about what features they could offer that let their end users create and communicate in new ways. In so doing, they began with a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) and iterated over it based on customer demand. Ben encouraged the entrepreneurs at the events to follow a similar tact.

He also gave the attendees a list of 7 “don’ts” when releasing an API:

  1. Don’t be insecure
  2. Don’t start with the SDK
  3. Don’t be hasty
  4. Don’t ignore people
  5. Don’t just pay lip service
  6. Don’t do nothing
  7. Don’t panic

#1 is my favorite. Which is yours? Checkout the video and his slides. Then, let me, Ben, and the rest of the community know what you think.

Thanks again to Ben and Twilio for making the Nordic Tour so inspiring.