Podio Increases Platform Focus to Entice Developers to Ecosystem

The Citrix-owned cloud software product Podio has been focusing this year on increasing its platform potential. APIs and SDKs are at the center of this strategy. Founding developer Andreas Haugstrup and engineering manager Sebastian Rehnby spoke with ProgrammableWeb about the opportunities for API Developers.

“Podio is a tool that organizations all over the world use,” Rehnby said in a recent talk at API World. “From managing a 3-D printing company here in San Francisco to running a farm in Denmark, processes can be managed and overseen using Podio.

“But Podio is also a platform, with a completely open API. Anyone can implement Podio the tool on top of Podio the platform. Platforms are important because they enable you to do much more with the tools you use.”

This comment provides a good insight into the heart of Podio’s focus this year.

Fostering an Ecosystem

In April, Podio updated its website to highlight its ecosystem. It created the new “Extensions Showcase” Web section to highlight how third-party app developers are creating products using Podio’s APIs.

Podio extensions

Podio extensions page sourced from the Podio website.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for third-party developers to integrate with Podio,” says Rehnby. Founding developer Haugstrup adds:

We have a REST API, and we want to give developers as much time to build their applications as possible. We want to move closer to what the end developer wants to build, and solve their problems so that the developer can get on with building what they want.

Rehnby and Haugstrup point to one dev shop, Globiflow, that has created a series of visualization tools that can be displayed in the Podio interface. This is one of 18 integrations highlighted on the showcase pages.

Calculating a Viable Business Model?

At the moment, third-party developers are welcome to monetize off their integrations in any format they see fit. Some use the integrations as a way to demonstrate their knowledge of the Podio environment and seek consultancy projects with Podio customers. Some charge directly for the tools they have created, while others have created a freemium model.

The Podio team is unsure what business models will work best with their ecosystem but is closely monitoring third-party integrations so as to help partners commercialize as quickly as possible.

Rehnby explains:

We are trying out and starting small. The extensions page is starting small, and we can see what sort of pages people are clicking on. We track metrics on how those APIs are used and what are the most popular extensions. That is what we learn from and how we can improve.

Metrics is definitely something that is driving our decision-making.

Unfortunately for now, the extensions page may be of limited use as a client lead source for third-party developers. It is not listed in the menu options footer or on the home page of the Podio site. The only way I could navigate to the page was by logging in to the site using the Podio site URL because if I try and navigate directly to Podio, I go straight to my own home account as a default (where there is no link to the showcase page).

From the site page, if I scroll to the bottom, and click on “More,” then select the Developers page, then choose the Engineering blog and THEN scroll back through some recent posts, I see mention of the Extensions Showcase page. It is a process that reminds me of that 30 Rock scene in which a character is explaining how to get a cup of coffee in New York: “You get it at my coffee vending machine, 38th and 6th in the basement of the Kmart. You just go downstairs, you get the key from David and BOOM! You plug in the machine and…”

It is a pity, as integration showcases and marketplaces can be a useful avenue for third-party developers to access warm leads. Philips Hue, for example, recently added a marketplace to its app and website, showing what third-party developers are creating via the Philips Hue API. This leads developers to direct contact with customers, people who have already bought the Hue light globes and are looking for apps and services to optimize their use of the smart lighting platform. According to Philips, sales and downloads of third-party apps have increased as a result.

Access to Citrix Enterprise Clients

In the meantime, the team is confident the Podio platform can be viable for new developer entrants, given Podio and Citrix’s access to a large enterprise customer base. Rehnby is seeing this already:

We have a lot of consultants who want to be associated with Citrix. There is a huge market for consultation and technical implementation. Many developers tell us, "The Citrix products are a space that I want to work in, and given the platform-first model and the customer base, Podio is a good place to start."

So we see a large demand for technical and consultative help to build out the Podio tools in the enterprise. I get a lot of high-profile businesses asking for support because the Podio consultant they have in mind isn’t available until next month.

So third-party developer consultants can be exposed to international customers. For example, we have one consultant working with Cirque du Soleil. Educational Services of America has 2,000 licenses, and we have exposed them to a small consultancy which is now a 13-person team. Consultants have built a business solely on Podio’s API.

New Mobile SDKs

To make it even easier for developers, Podio is releasing mobile SDKs. An Android SDK is available in beta, created because an increasing number of Podio’s customers access the Podio interface from mobile devices.

An iOS SDK and final Android SDK are expected shortly.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities.

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