Twilio recently exceeded expectations with an IPO that priced them at over $1 billion. For some, this proves that developers are the future of business. While they are certainly an indispensable asset, as more and more businesses turn to the cloud, what about the rest of us?
What about the admins and the marketers and those who are equally important to a business but don’t code?
Everyone can build without code
Developers shouldn’t be the only ones who can take advantage of APIs, because, while they are great to have (we’re very happy to have all of ours!), they are hard to come by. As more of our business functions rely on disparate SaaS services, citizen developers are finding ways to empower themselves and connect their apps. They want a solution that is customizable in a way that would require a developer but… without a developer.
The Salesforce platform was a pioneer here — it was the first cloud app that allowed a non-coder (“admin”) to customize the app, create new databases and workflows and build reports. During my tenure at Salesforce, I saw many lives and careers transformed, as people who didn’t view themselves as “technical” began building and customizing apps — becoming the go-to person for their companies.
The new zero-code tool box includes, but is not limited to:
- Salesforce — the CRM platform for customer- and account-related apps
- Box.com — storage platform
- Twilio — all you need to manage all applicant interactions entirely via SMS
- Google Forms — interactive questions and answers show up in Google Sheets
- Workato — a powerful no-code platform to automate workflows across these apps
The cloud enables apps without code
Cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Azure and others allow developers to get away from the business of day to day provisioning and management of servers. But cloud app platforms like Salesforce, Box, Twilio, etc. take it a step further, hiding even the code layer behind clean APIs. Using software like Workato, Boomi, or Snaplogic these APIs can be stitched together without code, creating a workflow that calls these apps to do things like creating leads, deleting files, initiating phone calls etc.
Software is eating the world, but we don’t have enough developers to eat the world fast enough.
Using the example of Twilio, you don’t need to know what a SIP server is and you don’t need to deploy it to an app server — with the Twilio API, you simply pass the correct parameters and a phone call or a text message goes out.
The next big investment opportunity
Companies using cloud apps like Twilio are not using them alone, but in tandem with other cloud apps or their own software. We can easily see the impact of creating a comprehensive workflow with several apps to build out an entire process.
Take the example of a company that relies on a constant stream of millennial temp workers to keep their service operations going. Their solution needs to answer the following questions: How do you make it easy for a large number of applicants to apply? How can you streamline the high-volume screening process? How can you automate the onboarding process?
Without a developer at your disposal, you’ll need a different set of tools — but you can achieve the same results. By using various cloud apps and an integration platform that is flexible and requires no code a custom workflow can be created without custom development.
An interested applicant can apply via text message using Twilio with a photo of their resume. Their information will automatically be uploaded into Box where a hiring manager can manually accept or deny the applicant without breaking the automatic workflow.
If the manager approves, the applicant goes into a new folder in Box and Twilio sends them a text message letting the applicant know they’ve been hired. At the same time, Workato will deploy a test via SurveyMonkey to make sure the applicant is fit for the temp work; when it is completed, the fully vetted applicant is ready to go.
Software is eating the world, but we don’t have enough developers to eat the world fast enough. Enabling the next 100 million people who will build the apps that automate our daily work, connect our mobile apps and customize our reports has the potential to be a bigger business than the multi-billion dollar IT stack.
Editor’s note: The author is an investor in Workato — and this article has been updated to reflect the broader competitive landscape that exists to serve this emerging problem.