Monday, 4 November 2013

Why we're sunsetting @datownia

This month (November 2013) we made a decision to withdraw @datownia from general availability, meaning that new companies cannot sign-up. But we're still continuing to service the businesses which currently use datownia. 

There are 3 reasons for this decision. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Focus (of our attention and our limited resources) now needs to be on SystemSync.
  2. We could not find the right marketing strategy for datownia
  3. A self-service API is too complicated for non-technical business executives to operate. 
Datownia was a software product built to answer a single question: could API creation and management be reduced to a level of simplicity that meant a non-technical person could operate it. After running Datownia for over a year we felt the answer was "no". There are some aspects of API creation that require a fundamental understanding of data, security, subscription management that most business executives do not have. 

I'm not going to say datownia was "ahead of its time". I don't think it was. Its just that the subject matter (i.e. the creation and operation of APIs) is technical, complex, and ultimately has no room for error because APIs are critical to the smooth operations of apps and data interchange between businesses. To paraphrase Clemenceau when he said "War was too important to be left to the Generals".. in a way APIs are too important to be left to the business to operate.

But we did learn some very important lessons from Datownia which we are now applying to great success in the SystemSync product
  1. There are massive financial savings to be made in the world today by increasing the efficiency of on-boarding data into a single large organisation from multiple (hundreds, thousands) of small companies using API technology. Call centres, paper forms, emailed Excel docs can all be replaced by data APIs.
  2. Small companies can and will work with Excel files held in Cloud files stores (without complication or snobbery or over-zealous concerns about security)
  3. A platform that can remotely "write" an Excel template into Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive or Box, and then make the contents of that Excel document available as a federated JSON API, and do this securely and at scale across thousands of accounts, will create real business value in multiple markets. This is the mission statement of SystemSync
Datownia, and the spirit of simple data interchange between businesses, lives on within SystemSync.