One of the technology points we make in digital transformation is that you cannot just focus on the front end. Failure to leverage all your assets in creating a great customer experience means you will probably be left behind. Venture Beat has an article on Uber’s API Bet. Their vision is very specific and entirely focused on staying relevant.
“It’s about closing the gap from where your users are and where you want them to be,” Saad said in the interview. “It’s about building moving experiences getting you around. This has been a core idea that has been iterated on for the past six months. If you’re a user that needs to be somewhere else, the physical distance from where you are needs to be vacuumed out. Making the user’s life as easy as possible by closing the gap has been a key thing the API has been doing in the last six months.”
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What I also find relevant is that this has a direct impact on their closest competitor Lyft. This would be termed the proactive approach to competition.
Simply providing a service that transports people around isn’t enough for a company of Uber’s scale and appetite. It also wants to become a logistics platform, along the lines of Box and Slack. By having an API, Uber can further differentiate itself from its nearest competitor, Lyft, which doesn’t currently have an open feed. This tool will give Uber the ability to reach beyond its own app and provide transportation support to developers.
What’s interesting is that Uber isn’t blazing new ground in this world. Here are some real-life examples of other companies who developed APIs:
- Amazon. Years ago Jeff Bezos mandated that anything built have an API behind it. That’s why the foundation for Amazon Web Services (AWS) was built so quickly. That’s also why so many third parties support them.
- Epic. This builder of a Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system has a pretty complete API for their patient portal. That allows both hospitals and third-party vendors to build on the baseline patient portal. It also makes their out of the box patient portal and mobile app more flexible. Their competition struggles to keep up.
So, yes, make back-end integration a key part of your transformation if you lack that foundation.