The demand for skilled Web and software developers -- especially API savvy developers -- is showing no signs of abating anytime soon. But organizations operating under the assumption that such developers are all it takes to modernize their monoliths and digitally transform into the kind of API-led, agile, shape-shifting high fliers that can survive today’s technical Darwinism are in for a rude awakening. Typically absent from that formula are the more business-minded change agents who thoroughly grok how and why APIs and integrations are key to the digital rebirth of their organizations.
Speaking to journalists during a press briefing at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco this week, MuleSoft chief marketing officer Lindsey Irvine shared the company’s plans to address the gap through new technology and by partnering with Accenture and Deloitte in an effort to “skill-up the workforce of the future.” (Disclosure: ProgrammableWeb is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MuleSoft).
Irvine cited “900” as the average number of data sources that enterprises must herd into a single source of truth, especially when creating an integrated 360-degree view of the customer (a major theme of this year’s Dreamforce). In other words, when it comes to the Integration challenge that lies ahead for most of these organizations, there’s literally an ocean to boil and, in MuleSoft, Accenture, and Deloitte’s view, it’s going to take more than just developers to boil it.
The challenge is reminiscent of the early days of the PC revolution (for those of you who remember it) when organizations were lucky if they could find just one person with an aptitude for unlocking the full potential of the personal computer; a PC trailblazer who could hopefully indoctrinate the rest.
While it took nearly two decades before PC skills were a prerequisite for any job and for the educational systems from grade to graduate school to respond in kind, today’s companies don’t have the luxury of waiting 20 years for their ranks to be filled with what Irvine correspondingly called “integration trailblazers.”
Most people, including administrative personnel, business executives (even CIOs), and isolated developers don’t even know what Web APIs are, much less the opportunity they represent to reinvent their companies’ futures and disrupt the competition. At best, organizations that fail to recognize the opportunity will amble along in their status quo. At worst, they’ll get “Uber-ed”; a colloquial reference to how Uber thoroughly disrupted the taxi and limousine industry with a mobile app into which a handful of other services like Google Maps were integrated to produce the final, connected experience.
“This integration is not just for integration’s sake. It’s integration to help create connected experiences faster. How do we integrate systems, unify data, unlock it?” Lindsey rhetorically asked.
To skill-up workers and to help companies unlock the power of APIs and integration outside of the IT department, MuleSoft announced three separate technology and educational initiatives designed to empower developers and non-developers alike across the organization.
On the training front, Lindsey announced MuleSoft, Deloitte and Accenture’s joint commitment to skilling-up 100,000 “Integration Trailblazers” over the next five years. The Integration Trailblazer training materials will be available to anyone for free through Salesforce’s Trailhead, (an online educational environment) starting with a type of Trailhead learning journey known as a Trailmix that’s available immediately (Disclosure: some of the API-related parts of this journey were authored and produced by ProgrammableWeb).
The first of the two technology offerings involves what MuleSoft calls “accelerators.” According to a MuleSoft press release, “accelerators codify integration best practices and distill them into pre-built integration templates that enable companies to deliver connected customer experiences faster.” More importantly, one of the main ideas behind these accelerators is to offer non-developers a growing Library of canned assets that make it possible to prototype and develop game-changing integrations and experiences using mouse clicks instead of code (what MuleSoft’s parent company Salesforce affectionately refers to as “clicks not code”).
In an effort to further enable these integration trailblazers in clicks-not-code fashion, the second of the two technology offerings is a new version (v1.14) of MuleSoft’s Flow Designer; a low/no code Web-based tool for assembling connected experiences from APIs, connectors and other integration assets. “[Flow Designer allows] anyone in the organization to come in and build and leverage integrations with clicks not code” said Irvine. “Within Flow Designer, Einstein (Salesforce’s Artificial Intelligence Platform) can now do some of the complex tasks like data mapping. So while you’re in there and you’re creating this clicks not code integration, you can now automatically map data with Einstein. We’re going to continue advancing this and making the full end to end integration journey accessible to anyone as we go into next year.”