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StartupBD: Of APIs, BD and bad math

March 29, 2016

In the cloud, everyone is making a connection.

Cloud software companies are working together to connect processes, to connect dataflows, to connect user-experiences, and to connect go-to-market strategies, all in an attempt to make users more successful with software, faster.

Cloud apps tend do one or a few things really well, and for what they don’t do, they connect into an ecosystem of other apps that do those other things. Unlike software of the past, cloud apps are architected to be rapidly deployed, and rapidly integrated.

“Don’t worry about huge, complex implementations,” they tell customers. “We’ll connect our software to your directory to your existing environment and it will all just work. The software is lightweight and integrated. Just log-in and you’re good. “

When integrations work well, a company’s data passes effortlessly from one app to another, letting end-users accomplish more tasks, collaborate more effectively, better manage processes and get more value out of their combined applications than they would from each application operating individually

How this happens is as easy as ABC. Well, A and B anyway… as in APIs and BD.

On the tech side, the responsibility for connecting to other software is handled via API, those carefully managed front doors that control the access of users and data from one app to another.

The human equivalent of an API is BD. BD is the sharp doorperson managing those front doors. What is the business model? Who can access the front door and under what conditions? At what price?

Never afraid to create hokey sayings around bad math, BD is always on the lookout for a great value-added partner to really discover how “1+1 can equal 3”.

Cloud software will only increase the need for both APIs and BD. Cloud software is easy to deploy, and therefore easy to rip out. Connecting via API to other software entrenches a cloud app within a customer’s environment, creating that elusive “sticky” factor we all crave.

But we crave sticky with a purpose.

Across the industry, smart companies have moved past the notion of connection-for-connections sake. Increasingly, APIs are no longer open but are governed by well-defined terms. Ecosystems can still be large and open, but the good ones are now better organized and exist for a defined business purpose.

Organizing these ecosystems is the responsibility of an ever more sophisticated BD function. BD is no longer measured by the size of their ecosystems, but rather the value those ecosystems bring to the company.

Successful BD people are coming up with ever more novel ways to sell the value of their company to partners and thereby build the highest quality ecosystem. With this ecosystem, BD has the opportunity to create new go-to-market initiatives that drive increased value for (1) their company, (2) their partners and (3) ultimately the joint customers.

Hmmm…  It seems 1+1 really can sometimes equal 3.

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