A couple of weeks ago, I chatted with Oren Michels of Mashery and that conversation is still rattling around my mind. Why? When so many Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 outfits describe their offerings, the conversation often turns to neat things they can do to input fields on your website. My eyes instantly glaze over as I remember that IBM e-commerce ad a few years ago where a boss asks his web developers what they’ve created and they remark that their web page now has ‘these cool flames on it’.
Mashery exists to ‘extend the brand of their customers’. They permit a straightforward embedding of one firm’s capabilities, web panels, functionality, etc. into another firm’s website. This is the technology that lets you read New York Times content in another firm’s website or order a Netflix subscription on someone’s Facebook page. Mashery is more of an API management capability that exists in a Web 2.0 world.
While technologies have existed to permit this on a one-off basis for some time, the ability to do this in a non-linear fashion has been difficult to achieve. Mashery believes they’ve solved the majority of issues associated with this. They’ve also convinced firms like Hoovers, Compete, Trulia, New York Times and about 70 others that they can do it.
If you didn’t use a service like Mashery, then your firm would likely embed links in other firms’ sites. This method works but it doesn’t pass along all the data or the context of the conversation that the user was conducting in the originating website. Worse, the user may not get returned to their originating web site at the end of their online conversation in the second firm’s site. This method works but it is not elegant.
Another out-dated method involves old-fashioned SEO (search engine optimization). Here, you do everything possible to get your targeted links at the top of the first page of keyword searches. Besides being expensive, this method had your firm trying to get people to change their surfing or web habits/patterns. Mashery thinks it’s easier to get people to use your firm’s functionality in the sites they already go to and not try to get users to go to different sites altogether.
Who’s going to buy Mashery’s service? My guess is CMOs in firms whose Marketing budgets are being pared back by the economy. Those same CMOs will also use this as their firm’s IT budget is probably being pared back. Mashery can probably do the embedded logic that an internal IT group could do but will do it cheaper and faster. Operational executives will likely be fans as they’ll want to see capabilities added to partner sites as soon as possible instead of ‘whenever IT can get to it’.
Mashery is a SaaS service that comes with API and data management tools. The product can accommodate SOAP, XML, SQL and other technologies.
The tough economy, the maturity of Web 2.0 technology and the speed with which firms create new business relationships may all bode well for this type of solution.