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Podcast: The Platform Episode 6

This podcast is part of the the Platform 'Data-driven innovation' serie



6. Architect a connected business

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The exponential growth of data inside organizations requires integration to optimize the business outcome business leaders are striving for. They want to optimize the use of data generated by their systems and ‘things’. 
However, how do you do that? Where do you get started? What does the required architecture look like? In the Platform podcast series DATA DRIVEN INNOVATION Ed Macosky, VP of Product @Boomi and Mike Veldhuis, Partner @Nalta, will dig into these topics. Listen to learn and for a bit of fun too!

Want to know even more and ask your own questions? Then register for the (English) online Masterclass, provided by Ed Macosky.

Episode Notes

The Platform Website: https://www.nalta.com/theplatform
All Nalta Blogs: https://www.nalta.com/blog

Host, Mike Veldhuis

Guest, Ed Macosky


Mike Veldhuis 0:00
You are listening to The Platform. Podcast to learn about our digital worlds. I am Mike Veldhuis partner at Nalta.com.

Ed Macosky 0:11
I'm Ed Macosky, head of products at Boomi

Mike Veldhuis 0:14
Welcome listeners to episode number two: architect a connected business part of the platform series. My guest Ed, hi ED welcome.

Ed Macosky 0:28
Hey, Mike, thanks for having me again.

Mike Veldhuis 0:29
And we ended our first episode talking about being the the cool guy at the party. So we have a promise to make. How are we getting to become this cool guy at the party explaining integration.

Ed Macosky 0:49
Yeah, so when I do, the go to I have being the cool guy is relating typically to supply chain actually. So because everybody understands the supply chain, and maybe not the term but you know, it's okay, what do you do it's integration. But I talked about the scenario where a number of, number of years ago, I set up one of the nationally known sneaker or shoe companies to integrate with Footlocker. So it was a whole process around okay, as inventory is depleting at a Footlocker location or a number of locations, then it would auto order the new shoes from said company and ship them. And it became the most basic way I can relate to someone at a party, because we'll talk about the shoe brands and take it from there. But at least you know, hey, he sent up something cool, where, you know, if I bought the last pair of shoes at footlocker, it was auto ordering and sending the next sets of pairs to that store. So that's how I became the cool guy.

Mike Veldhuis 1:51
But how? How can we explain to the audience, what is actually happening? We some sometimes just call it plumbing, right? Plumbing of data. So what is happening at the core? Before we delve into the nitty gritty details and the fancy stuff, what is happening at the core of integration? Why is it important to become this data driven company?

Ed Macosky 2:20
So what the core it's about, the way we talk about it today is wish fulfilment. And it's Core I know and being abstract, but if you start there and say wish, fulfilment, meaning, either my customer or my employee is going, they're going to have some wish, during their day, based on my data, and I need to fulfil that wish, right? So it's either I want to order something I want to register myself for, you know, for employees swag. I want this information out of my CRM, etc, and then taking the next level down, then it becomes about, you know, how to access, what that data is how to access that data, technically. So you'll hear a lot of things about, you know, API, first, the API economy.

Mike Veldhuis 3:08
I love that phrase by the way. Yeah,

Ed Macosky 3:10
You'll hear event driven architectures. And for a lot of people, a lot of, you know, it could be a little overwhelming for what does this all mean? But, those are just ways of exposing the data. And then the piece that everyone over always overlooks is it's okay, it's one thing to make data available out of a system via an API. But how do I do so how do I connect that data? How do I move it somewhere else? And then make it valuable with so meone just...

Mike Veldhuis 3:33
in a safe way, right?

Ed Macosky 3:35
In a safe way, and a safe way? You know, just exposing the data does nothing like cool you? You showed me you have shoes in your inventory? What is that?

Mike Veldhuis 3:42
Good for you!

Ed Macosky 3:44
But yeah, it's about it's about, mapping out the the processes or journeys with the data, making sure it's of high quality. You don't have to, if you pick the right tools, you don't have to understand the technologies behind them. The tool should abstract that for you. So you can get things done quickly. But it's about dreaming and what you want to do with that data, that's the most important thing.

Mike Veldhuis 4:07
Is it still stuff that's being done by IT people? Or are we way more into the business, creating this value?

Ed Macosky 4:18
We're way into the business at this point, there's rise of low code development platforms, has really opened things up for the business side line of business jobs to be done and they you know, these shadow IT departments are popping up all over the place. What I've seen in the last number of years, though, is you know, it is actually, for the most part started embracing shadow IT if I go back 10, 15 years ago, it was a big battle. Could not you know, couldn't have been worse for someone like us when we'd step into that situation because we've got low code tooling, but we also have enterprise grade stuff and we'd see these fights happening but you know, a number of us vendors, you know, have helped kind of shape the partnership between IT, and line of business, where IT is now governing things and letting the business do, you know, solve their own problems or in partnership with them by saying, Here's connectivity, these systems go explore the data. But putting governance as far as, what rights individuals have, based on data sets, they have an organisation, that sort of thing. But allowing, you know, based on having rights to that data, allowing the line of business to explore for themselves and solve some of the their own problems, but get support from IT. So that that's the latest trend, I'm seeing,

Mike Veldhuis 5:32
Actually one of the conclusions we drew in the previous four episodes, building the intelligent business where being great data driven is very important. Without it, it's just virtually impossible to become intelligent. But one of the conclusions was that there is a great opportunity for the IT departments to actually make this happen. And that it at times moved a little bit too far into the business because you still need like, a mindset that understands the IT and the logic behind it. And if you align this, so if we get it a little bit more back into the it space, without losing sight of the business value, that's, of course, extremely important. It's far more a win win situation, you know, for the plumbing, you need IT people and for building the value on top of the plumbing, you need IT people as well. Is this something you experience in the projects that you're seeing as well?

Ed Macosky 6:53
Yeah, absolutely. Because, with the the rise of low code platforms, the danger in IT not being involved is, this, mess of spaghetti integrations or, data sprawl, with an organisation, so on and so forth. If you just have the line of business running with it, you run a risk of just nobody's trying to do this on purpose. But when people don't understand from an IT perspective, what they're trying to, what they're doing, what the plumbing should look like, they'll just run and just solve problems haphazardly. So we typically, we'll start sometimes with IT, or we start with line of business either is, okay, you solve problem, typically, when we engage a customer, we're solving an immediate need. But we focus very heavily on that partnership between IT and line of business, and we work to put IT in the position where they can support the line of business, because like you said, they, they have to own the plumbing. Because things like scale, infrastructure needs, so on and so forth. If you're solving a really good problem on the business, you're gonna have to plan to scale that. And then when you talk to a business owner about scale, they're like, Yeah, right. And that's where IT has to come in. And the last thing you want is to have something architected that can't scale but showing value and as soon as it needs to scale, it is caught off guard and unable to help in an immediate way, because then it becomes IT's fault. Why didn't they know about it? You know, so it's something to be very, very conscious about.

Mike Veldhuis 8:20
And maybe add maintain, as well. So something that's working today should work tomorrow as well. And the day's after that?

Ed Macosky 8:30
Yeah, exactly. We, I see this every day, even with our own business. We have our own sales engineers, sales people, business people in our that use our own technologies and go and, and build some business process themselves at supporting, some other colleague or team, and then they leave, and then it's: who's supporting that IT never heard of it, what's going on? So yeah, you've got it and it maintenance.

And also, yeah, the business person may solve it for some very specific use case, and people see potential, but then they may get in over their head as far as how much they can solve, or the, you know, the time they can dedicate to solving a broader problem. An IT department would be better at maintaining and growing that thing and cultivating it down the road for the business,

Mike Veldhuis 9:20
Basically, nothing has changed. This is what happened in the past with spreadsheets. And Microsoft Access was very famous for it as well. Oh, we need a little database to store some stuff. N0 maintenance, no security, no nothing.

Ed Macosky 9:37
The spreadsheets are still around. So....

Mike Veldhuis 9:40
That's actually how they explain integration to me. One of our architects was just calling it Ctrl C Ctrl. V, but then in a fancy way integration.

Ed Macosky 9:51
That's a good way. I'll use that in the next party.

Mike Veldhuis 9:55
So we got the plumbing in place, we are able to move data between Applications between systems between people and things and stuff. And then we want to build on top of it, what are trends? What are tools that you actually see in this space that deliver a lot of value to companies where they actually can drive value from data.

Ed Macosky 10:23
I'll probably say iPaas in general Boomi is one of them. But you know, from an iPaas perspective, those platforms and lowcode, app, Dev platforms, workflow platforms, and things are driving tonnes of value for people right now. So once you have the plumbing, you have data available to you. The biggest thing, you know, I'll keep going back to is connecting that data to the user and adding value or granting wishes through their day.

So and, things are changing very quickly, which is why low code platforms are even more important, right? So if you're gonna build workflows on data, or data sets, or you're going to build what we call integrated experiences between applications, so sometimes a process

Mike Veldhuis 11:10
Sounds fancy, yeah,

Ed Macosky 11:12
Sometimes this process has to go over multiple applications, right, and you don't want people in a swivel chair and just data sinking doesn't work. But you know, what's good today may not be good in six months, you may need to evolve that thing and do it quickly, you can't be working in these highly coded environments for the ongoing maintenance piece, you need to be able to evolve and adapt and move quickly.

Right look at, you know, the the people that were successful through this last pandemic, through COVID, were able to pivot and build new experiences very quickly. And, you know, they had access, they had the plumbing in place, they had access to their data sets, and they had integrations running, but when you look at when government started offering loan programmes for small businesses, and these banks needed to pivot very quickly to offer a non in person experience, but something where they're working with folks, and it's mostly local banks, you know, the big banks around the world, we're okay here, but the small banks, they had these technologies, they were able to deploy them very quickly and service their customers without having to go indoors, those are the types of things you need to think about now that we've kind of been rocked with the pandemic and think, Okay, I need to transform my business digitally, right. And I need to, make this data available to my end users, where they're at wherever that may be.

Mike Veldhuis 12:35
Yeah. And that's actually great advice as well. You already told you started in this business in 2003. And you share it, you actually studied it. I didn't know, there was a study for integration. But it makes sense, right? Is it more popular, by the way? Nowadays, you have any idea?

Ed Macosky 13:02
No not really, I still think, kids coming through school aren't that interested in integration nowadays. But yeah, they're, they're still at the school I went, they still have degrees focused in in similar areas, I just think it's evolved a little bit beyond integration into some more, modern technologies, that sort of thing.

I mean, I focused on Corba, and some of the older type things and just database technologies and web technologies and that kind of stuff. But I don't I don't think my school has an integration focus anymore. But, but still some cool stuff.

Mike Veldhuis 13:37
Yeah, I'm not sure here in the Netherlands, I would advise them to start focusing on it. And for the listener, I really was, I was a little bit troubled with naming this series to platform, the data driven innovations. Because data driven, it's so corny. Everybody is talking about data driven, just like everybody was talking about IT and digital transformation, which, in essence, are great ways to explain what we're doing. But it's becoming like a hollow phrase, there is a bit a little bit too much inflation around the buzzword. But for you Ed, data driven to its core, what would be your definition?

Ed Macosky 14:28
It's funny you say that, because I hear all these other buzzwords and think, man, that's a buzzword, but data driven to me just really hits home and seems obvious, like it's data driven, right? So for me, it is really about making sure that you're leveraging the maximum use of the data that you have in your day to day daily life in a business to make decisions. You should be data driven, right.

And, you know, examples that, that I have, you know, we offer a platform that helps our customers be data driven, but we're data driven ourselves. We use some of technologies and things around, you know, tracking behaviours, or pulling our data together in a data lake underneath our platform in an anonymous way. Because you got to be careful about the data, that you're using for your decisions, there's data privacy laws, and those sorts of things and data governance things, you've got it, make sure you're thinking about but, we track a lot of our data to help us with decisions on what we want to add as features, functions product, we want to make things better for our customers. And we live that every day and we live in, we're data driven ourselves, and we advise all of our customers think about your business. And how can you how can you take the data that you have and make your next set of decisions versus Oh, I think this is, this is what we should do next. Right? That should never be just random decisions, you know? Never go with your gut.

Mike Veldhuis 15:50
It sounds so obvious. And so logical. Thank you. And listeners. This is the end of episode number two. And the good thing is that we're, we were looking forwards for Episode Number three, where we're going to talk about top trends in data and value. We're going to talk a little bit about blockchain as well Ed?

Ed Macosky 16:14
Yeah, that's cool.

Mike Veldhuis 16:16
So, thanks for listening. We had great fun. I hope we explained the world of data driven in a fancy and understandable way. And looking forward to Episode Three. Thanks for listening.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai