When I was at Andersen during the first bubble, I did a number of Fortune 500 projects helping these companies develop their ’web strategy.’ At this point, everyone was afraid of being amazon.com - ed (it was a verb.) Based on this fear & doubt, they spent large amounts of capital with consultants like us.
During these projects, a consistent challenge was division of responsibility for the website. Specifically, in most cases both the IT and Marketing department would want ultimate authority . It never ceased to amaze me how consistent a debate this was.
Often history would make this more of a challenge, because because at one point marketing had not cared about their web property. Based on this lack of concern, the IT team had taken some brochures and programmed up’ a website. This left not only a sense of ownership, but a track record of this being ‘owned’ by IT.
While both groups made compelling arguments, almost always the website was ultimately another communication channel. Therefore, even though history was often against them the marketing department ended up with the responsibility. However, more importantly it usually ended up ultimately being ‘jointly owned’ by both divisions. Later, interactive divisions seem to emerge with dotted line responsibility into both groups.
Interestingly, I believe we may very well be heading toward a similar challenge for commercial software organizations about their API’s. The conversation around commercial API’s importance continues to gain momentum. In fact, both Jeff Jarvis & Seth Goldstein have written again about this in the last few weeks. However it isn’t a web 2.0 trend until TechCrunch writes about it — and the release of Mashery earlier this week included the following a post with the following quote from Marshall Kirpatrick:
The future is going to be built out of APIs - though still controversial in some quarters today, in time they will be as common as corporate web sites are now.
I couldn’t agree with Marshall’s sentiment more. In many ways, this is just a pragmatic effect of the recent conversation around Biz Dev 2.0 Which can be summarized as integrating first and then developing detailed partnership agreements. Instead, of ‘business development 1.0′ where partners spend time figuring out how to work together and then later try to force a technology integration to occur.
Based on this, I believe the APIs (integration points) will be an important topic for the Business Development group. Interestingly, this may end up much trickier than the website argument. While it will be important for them to have a voice into the companies’ API Strategy, it will be rare for them to understand all the implications, etc around designing a commercially ready set of APIs.
Therefore, while I anticipate ‘joint ownership’, I’m honestly not sure how it all will work out. Regardless, I do anticipate BD being much more interested in APIs than they historically have.
What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below.
If you’re interested in learning more about Business Development 2.0 The NextNY group I’m part of will be having a community conversation about Biz Dev 2.0 on Nov 15. Unfortunately, we’re on a waiting list to attend right now. However, join our Google Group so you can be notified of future conversations & other get togethers — like meeting for Cold Adult Beverages:)