When you think about a modern political campaign you think of rapid decision making and execution, collaboration, agility and operating on the very edge of resource poverty.
Traditional IT projects have long been the antithesis of political campaigns. They require carefully designed specifications, expensive platforms, engineers and developers, software frameworks and, more importantly, long-term testing and release periods.
Because campaigns and IT projects are so different, campaigns have always had a love-hate relationship with technology. Even though campaigns can see what's possible with technology, they don’t have time or resources to design, build, test, launch and iterate technology products.
This all changes with APIs (application programming interface), which are basically a set of standards that two pieces of software can follow to communicate, or interface with each other. But why are APIs a game changer for campaigns?
Think of APIs like a computer’s USB cable. In the 1990s, every device you connected to your computer required a different type of plug and cable. Not even all mice had the same kind of plugs. Every time a technology company came up with a new toy for a PC, users had to open their computer and install new “cards” to accept yet another type of connection.
Once the USB cable became the accepted standard for connecting devices to your computer, life became much easier for computer owners and device manufactures. Device manufacturers could quickly build, launch and experiment with products based on the USB standard inputs and outputs for any computer.
In the case of APIs, executing a traditional IT project is like building a new device with its own plug, cable and PC card. Designing not only a device but all the connection plugs and cables every political cycle makes no sense, and it’s no wonder so many campaigns have horrible experiences with technology.
APIs allow a campaign to separate itself from the IT investment and focus on buying or quickly assembling applications that can be launched with minimal resources.
In the case of Crimson, the Republican campaign data platform, we’ve opened our APIs to our Republican clients so they can add third-party political applications to facilitate fundraising transactions, pull data collected from other services (like email, behavioral data, events, mail and phone data) into Crimson and pull data out of Crimson and append it to data from other sources.
By leveraging APIs, campaigns don’t have to worry about big investments or stress about security or scaling systems. These problems are taken care of by the API providers.
Erik currently runs sales and marketing for CMDI, the largest Republican fundraising technology platform. Prior to joining CMDI, Erik founded numerous fundraising technology companies whose products have raised over $300 million for hundreds of political and cause-based organizations.