Finding the best way to work with other organizations via APIs is where the business development team can help. After the IT department has vetted possible features for the API, the business team can analyze the impact of the project, helping to guarantee that the company will gain maximum payback from this mode of opening data stores to partners.
An API, for instance, might save the company significant development costs if bundling information that way offloads meaningful development work onto its partners. Moreover, if the organization depends on the network effect to drive revenue through increased participation, for example, then the company can maximize its reach by pulling in as many new users as possible through the API. Opening up registration makes it easier for partners to share customers. If the goal is user-driven revenue, then the API should aim to convert users into paying customers by, say, limiting how much free information is available.
The side benefit is that API calls themselves produce plenty of worthwhile data that can be mined to support the bottom line. Even if the API calls are free, the patterns of requests could prove very valuable. Coupled with a NoSQL initiative (see "Low-risk IT experiment No. 5: NoSQL"), the data collected from API calls could surface unforeseen revenue opportunities.
All of these interactions begin with the tech team and end with polish from the business group. One opens up the data stream; the other decides how much to open the doors.
Low-risk IT experiment No. 2: Social networks Most business managers are already racking their brains trying to think of ways to unlock the power of social networks. More likely than not, your organization is no exception. Often the plans these business folks come up with are tricky and involve extensive programming -- but they don't need to. Some of the simplest solutions can be crafted with just a few extra HTML tags.
Twitter, for instance, makes it easy to link your content to Twitter posts with a simple URL: http://www.twitter.com/home?status=MESSAGE. Any message can be added to this URL, making it simple to add a button that allows visitors to share your Website's content or announce, say, their recent purchase of your goods to their followers.