Riddle: How Can You Be Innovative Without Innovating?


Answer: Do what the MTA in NYC did… set your data free.

I’ve seen this MTA/Subway ad before, but its impli­ca­tion hadn’t sunk in until yes­ter­day. The impli­ca­tion being that the New York Tran­sit Author­ity has an adver­tise­ment for their data APIs on the sub­ways. And, in the ad they’re pok­ing fun at them­selves by acknowl­edg­ing that they’re not inno­v­a­tive enough to cre­ate their own apps like true “whiz kids” can.

This tells me a few things:

1. APIs are no longer impor­tant only to edgy com­pa­nies and startups,

2. APIs and the strate­gies around them are reach­ing con­sumer aware­ness, and

3. APIs can be a com­po­nent of a com­pa­nies mar­ket­ing and brand strat­egy — which means they’re not just about developers.

And, if that weren’t enough, in search­ing online for more infor­ma­tion about this ad cam­paign I found an even more inter­est­ing arti­cle. The (rea­son­ably) new MTA Chief made a per­sonal effort to con­vince devel­op­ers that they MTA’s atti­tude towards them was going to change. It’s about 15 months since the MTA shut down an inde­pen­dent devel­oper who cre­ated an iPhone app with their data, so this is a real about-face. And, if the arti­cle title is any sense of how they’re doing, it’s working.

To the list of key points above, we can add one more biggie:

APIs can be impor­tant to the board room.

WIth all this vis­i­bil­ity out­side of the devel­oper com­mu­nity, it’s becom­ing increas­ingly impor­tant to deliver API’s in a way that’s man­age­able, scal­able, and secure.

Or,  you can choose to tell your cus­tomers you don’t want their money, just like LinkedIn did this week.

Here’s another great take on the MTA’s adver­tise­ment & pro­gram.