Category: Oliver connect
Author: Jeroen Jansen

"Better together: what has stood out to me from API conference 2020."


Last week I virtually visited the Dutch edition of API conference 2020. The conference was supposed to have taken place earlier this year in The Hague, until COVID-19 turned the world upside down. I had the option of attending the conference both physically and online, choosing the latter.

The conference opened with a keynote by Matthias Biehl of API University. An inspiring story about digital ecosystems and their characteristics:

Better together:

by combining services and/or products, value is added for the customer. Think of the Bol.com's of this world, who have ordered products transported by partners like POSTNL and DHL. The customer sees the order and delivery of the product as 1 service, while more organizations work together to deliver this service. POSTNL and DHL provide access to their transport service through APIs, where information (transport order) flows from Bol.com to these logistics partners.

Go to where the customer is:

The speaker used the analogy of a young newspaper vendor who sold his newspapers at the right time (lunchtime) near a cafe in a business district in the 60s. Not only did he sell more newspapers in half an hour at that time than he would normally sell in a different location in a whole day, but the café owner also benefited from the presence of the young newspaper salesman.

Customer-focused:

The most important thing to determine at all of the above is to put yourself in the customer's shoes. By standing at the right location at the right time, the newspaper vendor has transformed himself into his customer. What is the so-called "customer journey"? What is the experience of the customer? In this case, it is the busy businessman who takes a stroll during his break and wants to relax, while enjoying a sandwich, a cup of coffee and the latest news (remember, it was the 60's in this particular example). This analogue example can of course also be translated to the digital world.

Now it will not be so obvious that for just about every (commercial) organisation the opportunity arises to become part of a digital ecosystem, but to give an example of how this doesn't have to be such a far-of-my-bed show at all, I'll give two examples of how we, Oliver IT, are part of a digital ecosystem ourselves.



  • For a number of customers we offer "plugs" on e.g. SAP, with which customers can receive and send invoices via the Peppol network (Pan-European Public Procurement OnLine). In addition, invoices can be offered by suppliers via e-mail, whereby the PDF is translated into a digital, and thus also automatically processable invoice in e.g. SAP. We work together with several partners who have expertise in connecting to Peppol and invoice recognition. With our knowledge of integration we have therefore combined several services into one service for our customers . Under the hood, APIs play an important role in this.
  • For a customer who manufactures physical products to order (make-to-order) and carries out the transport himself, we use a planning algorithm that calculates the most efficient route. We apply this algorithm in the application we have developed for this customer to digitise its logistics process, from order to transport. With an API, this logistics partner provides access to the know-how they have in the field of logistics, adding value to the product we offer: a logistics app.

In this blog I haven't even mentioned the technology behind digital ecosystems. Of course this is an important topic and there is plenty to talk about there , but if there is one thing that has stayed with me from all the sessions I've followed, it's this one: it starts with the customer.

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Jeroen Jansen Consultant
Jeroen Jansen