Thursday, January 12, 2006

Where is the nonprofit API traffic? reports:

And from our modest beginnings with Sforce 1.0, we've seen the Sforce Web service API grow to account for over 40% of all of's total traffic. Think about that for a minute - the API is almost as heavily used as the Web application.
In the nonprofit sector, where is the API traffic? Do you access Convio, Kintera & Get Active via API? Can you build simple connectors to web applications like Steve Anderson does for the ONE/Northwest database consulting practice?

The issue, I think, is that we have yet to establish valid business reasons in the nonprofit sector for heavy use of APIs. Steve's use of APIs is primarily to get around the inherent limitations of the salesforce automation software when used as a nonprofit database.

The big reasons for APIs are:
(1) Connect best of breed solutions. This tends to be at odds with most nonprofit software vendors' approach of being a "one stop shop".
(2) Create custom, technology-enabled business processes. Not sure the nonprofit sector is doing quite as much innovation to serve the homeless more effectively or run food banks more effectively as it perhaps should.
(3) Central data repository. Not sure the broad nonprofit sector really "gets" this basic concept of CRM.

What does the future look like?
(1) Vendors will be pushed to opening up their functionality. Nonprofits should be comfortable demanding that they be able to knit together a Kintera feature with a Get Active feature and have it all backed by a CiviCRM database (or any other combination that meets their needs).
(2) Nonprofits will become educated about what CRM can do for them.
(3) Smaller nonprofits will get access to affordable consulting and software services. (cause the APIs are really for the consultants)

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