Innovator Spotlight: mBlox - Building a Platform where Developers can find any kind of Mobile Engagement API
"APIs are critical to the way apps are being built today. We will continuously add to our APIs, and we envision our platform will become a place where every developer can find any kind of mobile engagement API."
mBlox helps brands, agencies and developers engage customers on mobile devices anytime and nearly anywhere. Its network of 800 mobile operators around the world enables businesses to engage five billion consumers. mBlox makes it easy to use interactive text message campaigns, push notifications and geo-location in order to drive revenue, lifetime value and ROI.
Puneet Goel, mBlox senior product manager, explained to Apigee how APIs have played a critical role in enabling mBlox’s new online marketing channel for engaging a new market of customers and developers.
How are you using APIs today?
We are leveraging APIs to open up a new online marketing channel for mBlox, where anyone can try out our services via a self-service process on our website. We're building capabilities and services around mobile engagement; APIs give the ability to combine sales with online marketing, allowing us to reach a new segment of customers.
Our new developer program is all self-service, and pricing is pay-as-you-go. We believe in removing barriers to trying the mBlox services. By exposing our services through APIs, we've been able to interact with our customers and developers in a new way, reduce the complexity of the process for developers, and track how our services are being used very closely.
How are you measuring the success of your API initiative?
Our API is relatively new, and success will ultimately be defined by how many people use our service. But to get there, we have to look at the entire marketing funnel and make sure we're driving enough business from the top -- from awareness to consideration to purchase, usage and loyalty. We actively measure these areas using the analytics tools in the Apigee platform along with Google analytics.
What need were you addressing?
The way apps are created now is really different than the way they were built even five years ago. APIs today are the building blocks of apps and any modern mobile Web app uses APIs from all kinds of providers. As a company that has all these assets around mobile networks and mobile engagement, it is essential for us to offer Web APIs now so that developers can build modern apps that use our services. This is a critical need in today's ecosystem.
How has your API or API strategy evolved over time?
Previously, we focused on building connections with telecom operators, and we primarily used proprietary APIs that were somewhat complex. Now, with our focus on mobile engagement, we are leveraging APIs to remove the complexity in interacting with customers and developers, making it simple for them to get started. We are not abandoning the complexity – our connections with operators are still robust and secure – but we are hiding the complexity for our end-customers.
How do you work with Apigee?
We are using Apigee's next-generation API management platform as the front end to exposing all our Web services. Apigee delivers three key capabilities: first, it delivers an API gateway that takes our existing APIs and exposes them as public REST APIs that are easy to use, with policy mediation and security; second, it provides our developer portal that addresses the needs of developers such as pricing, documentation and service usage; third, Apigee makes it easy for us to manage the system, with analytics that help us make good business decisions.
What is your vision for your API program moving forward?
We'd like everything we do to be exposed as an API. APIs are critical to the way apps are being built today. We will continuously add to our APIs, and we envision our platform will become a place where every developer can find any kind of mobile engagement API. Over time, we'd like to create an ecosystem where developers can use our APIs and then build solutions around them that can be served to the rest of the community.
Any advice for those just embarking on an API initiative?
What's really important is to have a consistency in terms of the developers' experience. APIs should look similar and have good documentation. Also, it's important to think carefully about pricing and develop a model that promotes widespread use without lock-in. In terms of a release schedule, it's important to iterate quickly – you don't want to wait for everything to be perfect –just expose service as they become available. And keep things simple, not more complicated than they need to be.