Guts, Glory, and APIs
For most of human history, opacity and scarcity have tipped the scales toward the status quo. The constraints of physical resources made this hard to escape. But as two very smart folks summarized concisely in the Harvard Business Review, digital changes the game because digital signals can be “perfectly replicated, an infinite number of times, at zero marginal cost.”
Transparency and abundance open the door to a world in which “the power of pull” carries the day: “As each of us votes with our feet and allies ourselves with new generations of institutions, we’ll abandon the old ones, leaving them to drift into obsolescence … ”.
These words, written by John Seely Brown and his co-authors a few years back, resonated with me this week. I left Microsoft in 2009 as the first person in the company’s history to hold the title “director of open source strategy.”
Although it was hard to convince some people at the time, I didn’t leave because I became convinced of the company’s obsolescence—I was sure Microsoft was on a path to greater openness and renewed relevance. And they have shipped, so to speak: Microsoft is now the number one OSS contributor on GitHub.
Shake up the status quo
With the first stop on our Adapt or Die #DigitalKnowHow World Tour a week away, I wanted to pose two questions to every registrant—and everyone else who hasn’t made the decision to attend:
Are you ready, willing, and able to lead your organization into greater relevance in the digital era?
And, if not, are you ready, willing and able to ally yourself with a new one to shake up the status quo?
If you’re looking for knowledge, networking, or inspiration for either scenario, you owe it to yourself to join us. And by “us” I don’t so much mean me (although I’ll be there!) but others who have a lot to share about making change.
Turning vision into action
Ismail Elshareef is vice president of open platform and innovation at Ticketmaster. He and his team have been working out in the open in a major way. If you read nothing else about fostering a culture of innovation and empathy in a big company, read their principles for designing an API that developers love.
And when it comes to feedback, developers don’t pull many punches—these guys even published their devjam NPS scores.
Jenny Banner is a bank board member who summed up in no uncertain words how the massive venture capital investment in fintech digital disruptors has changed the game: ““[T]oday it feels like [being on] a tech board. And it feels like one that is under siege by a thousand piranhas chipping away at various business lines and profit centers.”
But rather than hunkering down, she dove into APIs and digital, participating in two of the most powerful panel discussions at our last conference. We’re lucky to have her join us again. And our community of financial services leaders whose vision extends well beyond the status quo is growing.
Aiming to create a more integrated European payments market, the European Union (EU) issued a rule that requires that all banks operating in EU member states provide access to customer account information, transaction information, and payment initiation to third parties via APIs.
Rana Bhattacharya, chief architect at Nationwide Building Society in the U.K., is a leader in seeing the potential for growth in a new era of open banking—and making it happen. Drag your feet or seize the day? If you’re in financial services, he’ll provide some inspiration to do the latter.
Kendrick McLish, vice president of global higher education at Pearson, has articulated a clear vision for using the potential of digital to push the frontiers of educational efficacy.
Four years ago, when it was still possible to argue that the jury was still out on the scope of digital transformation, Pearson stood out for setting publicly stated company-wide targets for revenue from digital. Although they were almost synonymous with “textbooks” for my generation, they walked the talk of not denying the disruptive potential of digital content that could be infinitely replicated and remixed.
But strategically, they did more than that: digital opens up more opportunities to not just transmit a payload of text and pictures, but to measure efficacy—how well people are learning and how to help them do better. My wife works in education, so this resonates with me: in a world of potentially infinite content, what matters most is getting the right material, to the right kid, at the right time, with the right support.
And support for what you want to achieve as a change agent—in your current organization or beyond—is what you’ll get at Adapt or Die. Don’t sell yourself short. And don’t let the opportunity pass—seize the day. I’ll see you there.
Use the code "APIGEEVIP" for complimentary registration to Adapt or Die in San Francisco Sept. 27.