RECAP: Happy Customers Happy Hour, Denver

By Katherine Northrup in Life at Cloud Elements Posted May 25, 2016

Last night we hosted our second Happy Customers Happy Hour in collaboration with Synap. Starting around 6pm, API enthusiasts started filing the fourth floor of the new Galvanize Platte in Denver, CO, taking in the incredible patio views of the city. As the networking, munching, and beer-sipping died down Mark Geene, CEO of Cloud Elements, introduced the panelists of the night. The four panelists were: Beth Toeniskoetter, Product Strategist at ReadyTalk, Dave Martelon, CTO at Zen Planner, Michael Boeke, Co-Founder and Head of Product at Synap, and Jason Waldrip, CTO at Brandfolder. The discussion kicked off strong about API uses, development, and the exciting horizon of the API economy. 

If you’re reading this, you are probably aware of the importance of utilizing APIs. But, Michael reaffirmed -- time saving. Who would've guessed? API management is a big pain point for the product and engineering team at Synap. Michael wants ordinary business users to be able to connect Synap with any other software without coding or technical skills and APIs allow that. Dave touched on the fact that allowing customers to work efficiently across platforms via APIs, allows Zen Planner employees to focus their time to support their company’s core competencies. IMG_0920.jpg

What about API development and the optimal API? Well, it all summed up to what would be best for the customer. Jason stated the best practices for APIs are to be well documented, work well and be completely open without any friction. Bluntly, Jason mentioned, “developers don’t want to work with salespeople”. Ouch...he explained that developers should be able to come in and tweak the API to better fit their needs. Michael added, documentation to the list. He argued that great documentation is marketing for developers and the user base, separate from other users in your platform. Great documentation doesn't just provide a how-to, but shows all the benefits a company can offer.

“Tip for driving adoption: First and foremost, you must have a well documented API. Otherwise it does not exist,” Jason Waldrip, CTO Brandfolder

All this talk about open APIs, but we still weren’t convinced of the benefits. Jason jumped in - “if we partially close our API someone has to contact our developers and we don’t want to deal with that”. Seemed simple to us. Beth noted, that it can be a competitive disadvantage when some of the API is open and some is not and it can be a real challenge to provide the best service to customers. Speaking of challenges, Mark questioned the panelists about their biggest challenge around integrations. Beth went on - “building out our own integrations”. It is always difficult to manage data and rebuild, but the continuous upkeep quickly drains resources away from core competencies. Point - Cloud Elements.

“One piece of advice, “If you’re going build an API, use it. Understand the experience your customers have,” Jason Waldrip, CTO, Brandfolder

After the panelists were tired of getting grilled by Mark the Q&A broke out. A member of the audience asked what the biggest “wow” factor was on the horizon for each panelist. A technological development that most would not be able to foresee. This was a great wrap-up.IMG_1484.jpg Michael noted at Synap an interesting project are advancements in machine learning and natural language processing. Digging into the unstructured data within emails, support tickets and more and identifying customers’ sentiment to more quickly and efficiently act on it. Beth explained the pain of webinars from both parties involved. Her mentioned concept, AI integrations, works on understanding what is happening within a meeting or webinar without someone having to manually input the outline. Automatic meeting notes that you can skip, pause, and rewind? We like it!

Overall, we heard over and over again to think about the customers and how they will benefit most from API integrations. The advice is to use these APIs and figure out what your customer is going to need before they do. After the discussion we headed across the street to Denver Beer Company for more food and...more beer. It was a great event and we cannot wait for the next!

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