A Unified Theory of Low/No Code, Middleware, and the Future of Enterprise Applications: Building Customer Experiences with Airbnb Global Product Lead

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Sep 25, 20234 min read

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A Unified Theory of Low/No Code, Middleware, and the Future of Enterprise Applications: Building Customer Experiences with Airbnb Global Product Lead

In the world of enterprise applications, a unified theory is emerging that combines low/no code development, middleware, and the future of customer experiences. This theory revolves around the idea of creating a platform that allows for extension and customization on top of a core data model. Salesforce, a leading player in this space, has embraced this concept with their Force.com platform, which enables developers to build custom applications tailored to their organization's specific processes and workflows.

Salesforce's AppExchange further expands the functionality of their platform by allowing third-party developers to create and publish their own apps. This marketplace of applications built on top of Salesforce's data model serves to increase the platform's value and make it more difficult for customers to switch to a competing system.

The concept of a system of record and systems of engagement is crucial in understanding the role of enterprise applications. Salesforce, as the system of record, holds the most valuable data related to a company's sales and customer interactions. Other systems, such as marketing or customer support tools, need to integrate with Salesforce in order to access this valuable data.

However, the decoupling of systems of record and systems of engagement is becoming more prevalent. Companies are increasingly looking for applications that allow them to transact in a manner that suits their specific business and mental models. This shift in customer expectations opens the door for low/no code vendors to disrupt the traditional enterprise application market.

Low code development platforms provide a semi-opinionated UX customization layer on top of a database. This allows users to build applications or workflows that are tailored to their specific use case and user. The days of one-size-fits-all enterprise applications are coming to an end as businesses seek endless customization options.

Salesforce's position as a system of record gives them influence over systems of engagement. However, it is important for them to balance maintaining their position as the system of record while allowing for innovation in engagement methods. By creating an ecosystem around their platform, Salesforce ensures that customers have no reason to leave. This ecosystem consists of not only Salesforce itself, but also third-party developers, system integrators, and consulting firms.

Middleware plays a crucial role in connecting different applications and data sources together. As companies use hundreds of applications, middleware becomes essential in ensuring that these applications can communicate and share data effectively. By owning the middleware layers, Salesforce has the ability to export their data model to other systems of record that a customer has adopted.

The future of enterprise applications lies in building customer experiences and understanding user behavior. Behavioral science plays a key role in product creation, as understanding why customers behave the way they do is crucial to changing their behavior. Deep dives into user psyche and focus groups provide valuable insights into user perspectives and problem-solving approaches.

Timelines are important for product roadmaps, but it is essential to work backward from the overall shipping goal. Balancing yearly growth goals with innovation requires setting the right objectives and breaking them down into measurable chunks. It is a common mistake to focus on one aspect over the other, but finding a balance is key.

Reaching deep customer empathy means being able to confidently say what customers are thinking and having verbatim to back it up. Being able to predict how a product will change user behavior without relying on ML models is a sign of success.

In conclusion, the future of enterprise applications lies in creating platforms that allow for customization and extension on top of a core data model. Salesforce has embraced this concept with their Force.com platform and AppExchange, creating an ecosystem that further entrenches their position as a system of record. However, the decoupling of systems of record and systems of engagement opens the door for low/no code vendors to disrupt the market. Understanding user behavior and building customer experiences are crucial in driving innovation and success in the enterprise application space.

Actionable advice:

1. Embrace low/no code development platforms to customize and tailor enterprise applications to your specific needs and user requirements.

2. Focus on deep customer empathy by conducting detailed user research and understanding their perspectives and problem-solving approaches.

3. Balance yearly growth goals with innovation by setting the right objectives and breaking them down into measurable chunks on your product roadmap.

Resource:

  1. "a unified theory of low/no code, middleware, and the future of enterprise applications", https://mslotnick.substack.com/p/a-unified-theory-of-lowno-code-middleware (Glasp)
  2. "Building Customer Experiences With Airbnb Global Product Lead", https://productschool.com/blog/product-management-2/building-customer-experiences/ (Glasp)

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