There are a few posts out there discussing the notion that there is a new form of business development that has been coined Business Development 2.0
The “old” way of doing business development consisted of making partnerships and relationships with other companies through phone, email, meetings, networking, conferences, and the golf course.
The Business Development 2.0 way is using the APIs, data, and services of companies that provide them for your product without really needing to have a relationship with these companies.
Are we there yet? I say we’re only part way there, and I question exactly how much we WANT to be there.
Yes, I think it’s fantastic that Flickr was able to build their product without doing business development relationships, or that YouTube made Flash embed code that just took off on Myspace without having a relationship with Myspace. These are definitely good things.
However, there are some problems:
1. What happens if the company you’ve got a “2.0 relationship” with changes what they’re doing? What if Myspace suddenly decided they weren’t allowing YouTube code anymore. Since they had no formal relationship, this is quite possible, and in fact it actually happened for a brief period. Traffic for YouTube dropped dramatically, but users complained so much Myspace allowed it again and chalked it up to a “misunderstanding”. But, when you have no formal relationship based on either contracts or just personal ties, you run the risk of other companies zigging while you’re zagging.
2. Is the integration as deep as it could be? If I just grab a company’s data and start working with it, maybe I can use it in my product and have some success. But if I took the extra effort to reach out to them personally, perhaps they’d make it easier for me, throw in some promotion or a deeper partnership, and I’d benefit that much more. If we simply rely on Business Development 2.0, will we miss out on these opportunities?
3. APIs and data aren’t as open as they should be. As an example, we’d love to use the Google Adsense API in RMX Direct to allow publishers to manage their Adsense account while we also pull Adsense reporting data to automatically update what Adsense is bidding in the auction for their inventory. However, the Adsense API requires applying for it. I did so a month ago, no response from Google. It’s their loss as they are missing out on business because of it, but if their API was open, we could have proceeded. Because it’s not open, I’ll need some sort of old school business development in order to prove to them it’s in their benefit to allow us API access.
4. Sometimes regular business development is required. One of the key components of RMX Direct is the eight ad networks that are participating directly in the auctions for publisher inventory. None of these networks would have been involved had we sat back and just hoped they’d notice us and “integrate” somehow. It required business development, phone calls, emails, meetings, and long conversations to make it all happen. The relationships are deeper because of it as well.
So, the bottom line is that I’m all for Business Development 2.0, but I don’t think we’re there yet. Nor should we ever really leave Business Development 1.0 behind. 2.0 is just a new opportunity for companies to work faster and more efficiently. That’s a good thing.