When visiting Turkey a couple years ago, I wanted to get off the beaten tourist track. So, I went up the Bosporus on the regular commuter ferry toward the Black Sea. I got almost all the way to the top, and had a wonderful lunch at a small town.
To get back to Istanbul, I got on a local bus and paid the driver. Off we went. Within a few more stops, the bus was past standing room only. By the time we got to town, it was like a Guinness Book of Records contest for how many people could possibly pack onto the thing.
There were two doors on the bus—one in front, and one in back—but you had to pay up front. I’d paid the driver in cash, but the locals all had these electronic tags that they swiped on a reader right next to him. By the time the bus had filled to what looked like capacity, the only way to get on was through the rear doors. When passengers got on through the back door, they passed their tags up through the aisle of the bus, hand to hand, to the front where someone scanned it for them and passed it back the same way. It was funny and beautiful. (And I marveled at how honest everyone was, considering the circumstances.)
Here’s the real moral of the story: imagine I’m a coder in Silicon Valley, California. I’m creating a service for busing companies around the world. I have no idea how people do things in Istanbul or most of the rest of the world. Chances are, any specifics I create are going to be wrong.
Really, what we need are global solutions—platforms—that enable local implementation that reflects particular market requirements. If I hadn’t ridden that bus in Turkey, I would have never been able to dream up the right solution. That’s why it’s so important to open up the application programming interface (API) to allow for local solutions.
That’s exactly what my employer, SAP, is doing with its Mobile Platform. And within that, we’re launching the SAP Mobile Academy, an online resource full of code, videos and other technical documents that help simplify development on the SAP Mobile Platform. We want a million different developers working on our software. They’ll each come up with new and innovative solutions to problems we never knew existed.