You might not realize it at first, but modern marketing teams don't just use software these days—they create it too. Quite a bit of it, actually.
What is software, anyway? A software program is simply a set of instructions that tells computers, or other digital devices, what to do. You can manually launch these programs, such as when you tap an icon on your smartphone to open up your e-mail app. Some software programs can also be configured to run automatically at regular intervals or when some external event happens—such as when a prospect visits your website.
Software programs can also interact with other software programs. The term API, which stands for application programming interface—a term that marketers hear more frequently these days—describes the ways a software program makes itself available for such interactions. If a software program can be mostly controlled through its APIs, it's considered open. If not, it is considered a closed system. As you might imagine, with all the different software programs in the digital marketing channel that we examined in the previous chapter, open APIs have become increasingly important to orchestrating all these different pieces.
The big picture here is that most software operates in layers. If you want to visualize a large layer cake, that's not a bad metaphor. Layers above use the layers below as services that help them accomplish a higher-level mission. Just as the very top of a cake has a ...