Websummit report: Oren Michels, Mashery

Today we’re at London WebSummit, looking at software, entrepreneurship and how to grow great businesses. A subject close to all of our hearts.

Oren wants to talk about planning, but first – subways. Not software, but OK, the audience is prepared to go with him. In San Francisco, the Bart Subway system is a problem. There aren’t many stops – 8 in a city of 50 sq miles. Bart can’t get you there. Compared with the DC Metro with its 41 stops it’s ‘a pain in the butt’.┬áResult, on any given day twice as many people ride the DC Metro as the SF Bart.

So why is he talking about this? The transport system he has just described is exactly how most businesses build their mobile and browsing experience. Especially if you have a mobile optimised site.

The whole point of a good transport system or a good mobile browsing experience is getting people to the place where they want with no extra effort. That’s where a lot of businesses go wrong. It’s not enough to just have people access your site from a mobile. Businesses that operate on this kind of strategy find it isn’t a great strategy for success. People don’t browse on mobiles, they use apps to meet their immediate need and then get on with their lives.

These may have short lives: AP produced an app for the World Cup that was used for 3 weeks but was awesome for those who wanted immediate information on the football.

How do successful companies produce the experience that their users need? They can be be built on APIs , which give you the ability to enter at whatever point people want to get into the process.

So, apps can take people where they want to go, but also, like a good subway system, they should let you transfer between different lines/processes.

So the interactivity between apps provides a situation where companies can collaborate to allow customers to meet their needs. Great news for businesses that have mobile experiences built on APIs. Bad news for businesses still asking customers to browse.