Today, successful modern brands know their story and make it true through action. They've established a clear Quest, an aspirational mission to positively impact the world, and align all of their brand's actions to empower employees to make new products and experiences. In turn, that makes their story true in the minds, hearts and hands of customers. These are Storydoing companies, and results show the model is working--creating better experiences for people while building more successful companies. What's next for Storydoers? Turning software into your Storydoing accelerator, opening up an unsurpassed level of scale.
Resources, people, time and distribution are limited; it's a reality every company faces. Finding ways to empower other people, products and companies to plug into and further your story is where exponential growth and innovation can come from. We must think about software as going beyond an app or website, and envision it as a tool that allows your story to become ubiquitous. If we un-tether your capabilities to the number of lines of code you can write, totally new possibilities come to life.
From Data Exchange to Capability Exchange
You've likely heard about Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which in the simplest terms, allow two pieces of software to "talk" to each other and exchange data, such as sending Google maps coordinates and getting back a map to that location. Or, think about the way some video games let players invite friends to join a game via Facebook--these applications are sharing data, where one needs something the other has. Modern software is no longer about singular digital objects built with an interface for one end user, but rather an ecosystem of capabilities that many participants can interact with. Storydoing companies that truly embrace modern models of software no longer simply use APIs as data exchanges or make them solely the remit of the engineering team.
Rethinking how to open up capabilities through software and APIs when aligned with your Quest can accelerate your story from every aspect of your company. The most progressive companies are looking at all of their capabilities, and building APIs and interfaces much deeper inside their organization. Previously, this would have been thought of as giving up your competitive advantage or most precious IP. Exposing these capabilities isn't a one-way street. When combined with the powers of other companies, this model of software can create previously impossible opportunities. For example, IBM's move to open up the capabilities of its Watson super computer creates a new way for many more participants to join and further IBM's quest "to build a smarter planet," something that even with its hundreds of thousands of employees, IBM could not achieve alone. By sharing these capabilities, IBM is making its story true through the solutions others are creating on top of it, and gaining a much wider understanding of the world in the process.
As more products combine your valuable capabilities with theirs, it creates a compounded effect in both the impact and reach you can have on achieving your Quest. For instance, Nike's recent shift from creating hardware around Nike+ to building a software ecosystem brings the company another step closer toward achieving its Quest to "bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete." Nike is gifting access to its user base of athletes, its sports knowledge, and ultimately, the power of its brand to other hardware manufacturers that are then building many more sensors and data-capture solutions than Nike could ever do on its own.
APIs With a Human Touch
Though it hasn't opened up its API to the public the way Nike and IBM have, Uber has, in essence, built an API between one person's need and another's capabilities in service of its quest to "evolve the way the world moves." Uber is the connective tissue that fulfills a simple human request with an output. Their 'GET' request is a simple action of needing to move between two places and their output and response is access to their capabilities, returning the car and driver to fulfill that request.
Moving the concept of API away from its pure technical structure into a more human and business context can empower your company to accelerate its story through action both internally and externally.
When your story and your Quest are central to your focus--as it should be with every company--you gain the power to be freer with your knowledge, innovation and resources.
The more companies that embrace this and share it through common methods like software APIs, the faster holistic innovation will happen and the faster each company can achieve their Quest in the world.