A Gated Merge is a criteria-based approval process for pull requests that provide an early-warning system for Salesforce merges. Using this, merging is as easy as writing a “Hello World” script. This article will help you get the most of out of this feature, which is only available in AutoRABIT.
How Do Gated Merges Work?
What are Pull Requests? – Developers initialize a pull request to propose and collaborate on changes that need to be integrated into a forward branch.
Gated Merges are used to enforce conditions on the pull requests based on a set criteria for individual branches or branch patterns.
The enforced conditions include:
- Deployment Validation – Performs a mock deployment on your QA, Integration, UAT or Production orgs to determine if the merge will break during deployment
- Code Review –
- Apex Class/ Trigger Monitoring – Preempts your Apex Test Class failures and code coverage results before merging your code
- PMD – Finds common programming flaws such as unnecessary object creation, empty catch blocks, unused variables, etc.
- Diff Report – Generates a line-by-line Diff Report of “as if” and “to be” changes.
The Flowchart below depicts the process flow of Gated Merges
After meeting the pre-set parameters, the approver/reviewer can choose to accept or reject the pull request.
Consider this example, which will probably sound familiar to you:
You’re a Salesforce Administrator or a Release Manager overseeing a mid-size development team building an Expense Management application for your business. The team uses two source code streams: Integration and Release. Without Gated Merge, each time a developer merges a change into the Integration or Release branch, you won’t know whether the code worked or failed until the day of your Production deployment. A failed deployment at this stage is likely to put your business commitments in jeopardy, not to mention subject you to a whole lot of frustration.
With Gated Merge, a Salesforce-specific review process is initiated whenever a developer raises a Pull request. The review process does a mock deployment on your Integration Salesforce org, confirming the change to be a “Good” or “Bad” change. Apart from the mock deployment, you also get to see a PMD report and a line-level Diff report on the changed Apex Trigger. This guarantees a quick, fun-filled Production deployment.
Why are Gated Merges Important for Your Salesforce Development?
Version Control Systems such as GIT and SVN are used to manage and version files (obviously). For Salesforce, which uses XML file structures storing configuration and meta information, the smallest unit is an element which typically spans multiple lines. The version control systems do not have Salesforce source code that comprehend such XML files and this results in XML file corruption (malformed XML). This shortcoming can lead to invalid XML files or missing nodes causing Salesforce specific code errors.
The image below shows the XML file of a Profile
Gated Merges provide a mechanism to preempt XML file corruption, code mis-match, deployment failures in Pull requests. Enforcing conditions to validate merges reduces the risk and cost involved in deployments by allowing you to spot and fix defects earlier in the process.
Ready to try Gated Merges? Click here to get started.
Catch up on the previous post on another cool new feature of AutoRABIT, “Delta Deployments powered by a lean-packaging model”
No matter what industry you work in, hiring a good software engineer has always been an expensive proposition – to say nothing of building an entire engineering team. That’s why development became an industry on its own. After all, it’s much more efficient for organisations to bring in a third-party expert than it is to build their own technological infrastructures from scratch. For the last 20 years, the norm has been for companies in verticals ranging from logistics to finance to outsource their development.
Today, the situation has turned around on its head, and more and more organisations in traditional industries have hired their own internal teams of engineers to work closely with third-party software development companies. As a result, these companies are gradually morphing into software companies themselves. Businesses in the automobile, manufacturing, and telecom industries are now actually referring to themselves as technology companies – which wouldn’t have happened even a decade ago. This is giving companies the confidence to develop the technologies they need in-house rather than hiring outside specialists to build it for them.
THE BUILD-VERSUS-BUY CONUNDRUM IN SOFTWARE
The build vs. buy conundrum is not a new one, but in the context of software development there are certain perspectives to be taken into consideration before making this decision. Here are some of the factors that need to be evaluated before deciding to go with an in-house development model:
The resources at your disposal play an important in the build vs. buy decision. The two most important resources that you should account for are money and people. If you do decide to build, you will need to train (or expand) a team of engineers with different skill sets at different stages of the project. When it comes to buying or licensing, the vendor will take care of these requirements, but you will most likely need to hire new talent throughout the development process.
If you are using specific features to differentiate yourself from your competitors, building your own technology is often a better option because the spread of development knowledge is within your control. However, if the software helps you do routine tasks, increase efficiency, or maximise effectiveness, you could be better off buying off-the-shelf solutions and then customising them as required. It is important to note that seeking competitiveness should not be confused with wanting control of the project. Whether you build or buy, most of the project will require similar project management skills.
Even if you have monetary and people resources and are building technology for competitive advantage, if you do not have time on your side buying is usually the way to go. Admittedly, this is a tricky blanket statement to make because there are so many variables at play and not two projects are the same. Decisions made under the pressure of time can go either way, but if the choice is between making no decision and making a risky decision, the latter is preferred. On the other hand, if you have the luxury of time, you may find that it is a better option to build technologies internally. An example of this would be a feature which is not really hot in the market but will become a default feature in the near future.
If your requirement is something completely out of the box and needs to be developed for the first time, building is an obvious choice. However, be mindful of the times we live in: if you are thinking of enhancing a product feature or looking to just doing something differently, chances are that someone, somewhere else, is working on it – or already has done so. Do your research and then make a decision.
About the Author: Raj Gaurav Bhandari is the Digital Marketing Manager and Salesforce evangelist forTechforce Services, a leading Salesforce Consulting company based in Sydney, Australia.
Techforce Services is a Sydney based Salesforce Consulting company. We are a group of seasoned and Certified Salesforce Professionals having multi-functional, multi-industry experience.
We will work with your business to help achieve your goals, deliver your project demands, provide ongoing support, run a health check or review your existing Salesforce implementation and be with you throughout your Salesforce journey.
Modern Salesforce development environments are sophisticated with huge amounts of metadata, which can make deployments heavy and complex. Many organizations spend a great deal of time and effort to deploy an application within the governor limits and meet their goal of ensuring quality and stability in the application. However, the increase in deployment complexity combined with higher expectations of quality and agility, demand a more streamlined approach to Salesforce deployments.
Lean is a proven strategy in the software industry used to make application development faster, saving both time and money. When our team applied the principles of Lean to Salesforce deployments, ‘Delta Deployments’ were born. Powered by a Lean metadata packaging model, Delta Deployments are fast, simple and fail-proof (which also means you don’t have to wait until Friday night to do your deployments).
After all, you deserve a ‘Happy’ weekend, not a ‘Deployment’ weekend!
Why Delta Deployments are Important on the Salesforce Platform
As Salesforce runs in a multi-tenancy environment, it imposes governor limits to avoid monopolizing shared resources. When deploying, users are restricted to a .zip file with a maximum size of 39MB. The file size limit is applied to all tools and types of data, including Changesets, Metadata API, Force.com IDE, and ANT Migration tools. Most third-party tools available today are subject to the Salesforce governor limits as they are built using the Salesforce Metadata API.
Small and medium-sized organizations can work within these limitations, as they have fewer metadata components to migrate. However, deploying the metadata for a large enterprise can be an uphill battle. Bundling and compressing the files into multiple deployment packages is time consuming, inconvenient , and prone to failure due to file exceeding the 39MB limit.
Large file sizes occur due to the fact that the Salesforce Metadata API pulls and packages the complete component file, even if only a single line of code is modified. This is a bit like plucking the entire branch when trying to pick a single apple.
With Lean packaging, the changes (delta) of the metadata components are retrieved by comparing the Salesforce orgs and Version Control System. These changes are packaged into a .zip file and are deployed to the target Salesforce org. Delta Deployments allow you to move only the code that is absolutely necessary to update the application.
Let’s see how Delta deployments look like.
Delta Deployments in Action
The image below shows how a change to the field of an object named “Country Code” is migrated using Delta deployments.
The inline help text of a field is changed to “Provide your shipping address.” The Object’s XML file that is shown in the figure contains various other fields and object definition files like action overrides and custom settings, etc., along with the modified field. Using Delta deployments only the node of the field that is modified(color-coded in Blue) will be migrated.
Here’s another example in which changes are made in 3 versions of an application
An object is added in the first version of the application and two Custom Fields, namely Custom Field 1 and Custom Field 2 are added to it in the consecutive versions.
Packaging only the Deltas from Version 1 to Version 3 will migrate the components highlighted in Blue in the image.
To interpret, The Object is retrieved when deploying Version 1. Deploying Deltas from Version 2 means only the Custom Field 1 is retrieved to amend for the Object that is already in the target environment. Similarly, the deployment of Version 3 includes just the Custom Field 2.
AutoRABIT for Delta Deployments
AutoRABIT is a comprehensive DevOps Solutions for Salesforce application development. It is the only continuous delivery platform for Salesforce with end-to-end automation and Delta Deployments. With AutoRABIT, you can be sure that the right code will be delivered to the right place at the right time.
Find out how you can try AutoRABIT For FREE. Your next Salesforce deployment is on us.
There’s nothing more frustrating than having a trouble right when you felt everything was going great. This happens very often not just in life but also when you’re in the middle of an SDLC and especially if you’re a Developer or worse, a release manager waiting for a miracle release date. And we all naturally want to fix that problem, whatever’s annoying us. That is why we know it’s right investment in having a dedicated customer support where we get to know all those things which you want us to fix, right away!
But wait, this update will not solve all those problems that you’d been planning to write to Santa this Christmas. But yes, you’ll notice very soon that you’ve been sighing less and breathing more!
Some of those that we ourselves were glad working on were…
Feels like free fall from Niagara: Now your workflow doesn’t get buffered; hands down, better support for Salesforce API 44.0
We’ve put you in a Black Vault: If systems had missile technology and had enough sense to detect waves from your code, even then it won’t be able to encrypt it, that strong we made the security this time for DataloaderPro.
Cloak of invisibility: Whatever it was that you did not want to exist, IP Ranges and User Permissions from Profiles OR AutoRABITExtId from version control; we cloaked it all for you
Loved when you were pampered? Rest assured you’d never get spoilt over this with extensive support for Vlocity builds. Even dynamically packaged Vlocity components. There you go, Happy builds, automated!
Though what’s completely new is we’ve achieved Webhook support for Bitbucket Stash, but what we’re proud of is that the Ez-commits are made so much easier with more search options, commit history and logger improvements.
Well, it doesn’t end here. Our cats have been on an expedition to leave no corner undiscovered and fixed a couple of more bugs for you. Look at the Release notes and tell us how the house looks after they’ve left with no litters.
3 Take aways:
- Deploying delta changes between revision numbers is not possible elsewhere
- Developing without AutoRABIT is not possible for a peace-lover like me
- Going through another interesting blog is not possible without a Coffee break now
We do understand. There’s no fun in visiting a place like Paris and attending Demos. We wouldn’t feel a least bit excited. But then when we’ve known what a Demo could mean for making that coarse-changing decision for your company, we had second thoughts.
How does French Touch Dreamin help Salesforce users:
Right from its debut in 2016, French Touch Dreamin is a big hit within the Salesforce community. The passion at the event is infectious, as the event organizers brought speakers, MVP’s and other leaders in salesforce ecosystem, from various country communities to suffice the content-rich agenda of the event. You may have learnt on some tips and tricks to scale your Salesforce development or just move around and network with the Salesforce Ohana.
French Touch Dreamin is more than an event, it is an experience.
What you should look for in a Product for an informed decision:
- Is the Product having its presence in Global Events regularly?
- Is the Product active on Forums for problem solving?
- Is the Product in the market since a couple of years?
- Are the representatives empathetic towards your queries?
- Does the Product have regular updates as per the market demands?
- Does the Product have the passion to evolve into the bigger markets? (participation in these events are a sign of this)
- How is its Social media presence?
- What’s the work culture of the team behind the Product?
It’s hard to part ways after a long association
Did you consider all of the above to give you great insights into how your partnership would be for the next couple of years. Cause it’s not just you who’s gonna part ways with the Solution Provider if things don’t work your way, it involves teams across departments to switch between Solution Providers meaning – new teams, new ways and new engagements from the scratch.
- Did you get a chance to speak to our team and collect your swag at the event? If not, just leave a comment,we will connect back with you to help.
Chatbots are creating quite a buzz these days and can be found on websites and in apps across all industries. So, what exactly is a Chatbot? A Chatbot is a program which allows users to communicate with a computer or an application as if they are conversing with another person. Chatbots do this by combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Natural Language Processing (NLP) to process simple requests and respond accordingly.
A great example of a chatbot in action is the Skype Bot. Whenever a user logs into Skype, Microsoft gives an option to interact with the Skype Bot. Based on the user’s interactions, Skype Bot pops up things of their interest like games, curated news, music, and much more.
Chatbots – Making inroads into every industry
The adoption of Chatbots is working its way into every industry for the significant benefits they offer.
- Customer care 24/7
- Personalized customer experience
- Reduction in costs by automating repetitive tasks and with less staff
- Quick response and resolution to customers’ requests
- Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
“Twenty-five percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two percent in 2017.” - Gartner, Inc. Click To Tweet
Possible applications of Chatbot technology are limitless. Businesses across all sectors are investing in chatbot technology. A few examples are:
In the retail sector: In order to offer an enhanced customer experience, Nordstrom, a retail fashion store, launched its first-ever Chatbot during the 2016 holiday gift-giving season.
How does the Nordstrom bot work? The user is asked basic, but leading questions. For example, if a user is shopping for a gift, few questions like – buying for whom, for what age, etc. – are asked; and based on the replies, the bot will come up with gift ideas. It makes user’s shopping experience personalized and successful without the need for human interaction.
In the field of Medicine: A Russian technology company launched an Alzheimer’s Disease Chatbot project. The goal of this project is to create an open source Chatbot companion for senior and Alzheimer’s patients to help them feel less lonely.
The Chatbot poses specific questions to the people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. It reacts to the replies and speaks on various interesting topics in response. Interactions of the patients are examined and passed on to medical professionals to help diagnose the severity of the disease.
In the food/cooking industry: ‘Heston bot’ is created by Heston Blumenthal – a chef whose restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars. This bot uses the similar principles of speech/text recognition and suggests recipes the customers may like.
Chatbots Vs. Virtual Assistants
Don’t confuse virtual assistants with Chatbots! Though both are supported by AI & machine learning, and growing at a fast pace, they are very different from each other in terms of their functionalities and the purposes they serve. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant are not Chatbots, but Virtual Assistants. While Chatbots are useful for specific purposes like customer support, automated shopping, and customer engagement, the scope of Virtual Assistants is much broader. They allow more sophisticated applications for business.
Although Chatbots and Virtual Assistants have different purposes, it’s important to know that most Chatbots can be accessed via Virtual Assistants, messaging apps, or individual apps and websites of organizations.
Role of Chatbots in Application Development and DevOps Implementation
Harnessing the power of Chatbots in application development and software projects will let enterprises increase the speed at which they bring value to their customers. In certain situations, a business may benefit more by leveraging a chatbot than by spending time and effort in building an app. A readymade platform can be utilized to develop a chatbot rather than focusing on coding for UI/UX, graphics, front-end/back-end systems as in the development of an application. Also, once a chatbot is developed, it is easy-to-use and does not require loading or installation. Additionally, it can be used across operating systems without porting. The latest chatbots can also merge different areas of customer interaction – like search, filter, contact, etc.
So, how will Chatbot technology be used in the world of DevOps? Chatbots may just be the next big advancement needed to allow for effective real-time collaboration and communication between development and operations. Users will be able to monitor performance, orchestrate workflows, and receive a predictive & prescriptive analysis of monitoring data; all using natural language commands. The use of Chatbots can have a positive impact on app development, ultimately reducing development time and costs significantly. Imagine how easy development will be when DevOps tools integrate with Virtual Assistants… “Google, build and test the latest branch…”!
Humans have demonstrated proven abilities in accomplishing a multitude of things from the stone age to digital age, by discovering fire to ‘cloud.’ Conversely, they can be unbelievably lazy at times and don’t like to get off the couch to find the remote control. Therefore, everything around us from buildings and cars to water bottles and hair brushes is increasingly being controlled by sensors leading to ‘Internet of Things (IoT).’ It’s obvious that IoT is transforming people’s lives at every corner.
“IDC predicts that by 2020 there will be 30 billion connected ‘things’ and a revenue opportunity of $1.7 trillion for the ecosystem.” Click To Tweet
IoT– Sweeping the Business Landscape
Advanced technologies, affordability of hardware, and the feasibility to use contemporary programming languages are leading to rapid expansion of IoT products. Here are a few examples that talk about the scope of IoT and its impact:
- IoT for Software Development
Software development teams typically gather project requirements from internal sources like pre-sales or R & D, and external sources like customers or subject matter experts with diverse industry and market experience. Requirements are also gathered based on customer’s product usage trends. Companies often play a guessing game while gathering requirements and struggle hard to live up to customer expectations. Instead, Internet of Things can act as a crucial source for gathering requirements by offering insights into how the software interacts with other APIs. A wide range of IoT products offers insights into consumer behavior while utilizing data from the ‘connected life’ of the consumer and helping businesses to offer enriched customer experience.
- IoT to reinvent Personalized User Experience
IoT represents data and personalization which can be leveraged for business advantage. IoT opens new doors for businesses to go beyond the CRM and explore a world of a billion connected devices and the customers behind them who are willing to share their personal data. As the IoT landscape expands, relevancy becomes a key differentiator for companies to be successful. Businesses are already designing their strategies to utilize the data received through IoT technologies, thereby building better products. One good example is Tesla Motors, a manufacturer of connected cars. It encourages its customers to submit requests on customized features they would like to have in their cars. Recently, one of the Tesla’s customers submitted a request for crawl feature, an advanced feature that facilitates off-road driving with slow cruise control to maintain a constant speed without the need for the accelerator in extreme conditions. Tesla used this feedback for product improvement by updating the entire fleet of cars with the crawl feature.
- IoT for Industry 4.0
With the emergence of the fourth industry revolution, aka Industry 4.0, IoT has gained a lot of traction in the manufacturing sector. Industry 4.0 signifies the current technological trends – automation and data exchange – in manufacturing technologies. It includes cyber-physical systems, cloud computing, IoT, and cognitive computing. Companies are already leveraging this technology to turn data into a strategic asset for them. One ideal example is Rolls-Royce; it is tracking everything from fuel-flow to aircrafts’ altitude by embedding its product lines with IoT sensors. The data is immediately fed to the operational centers and then leveraged to optimize products and make informed decisions.
IDC expects global IoT spending to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.6% by 2020, reaching $1.29 trillion.
“The manufacturing industry will lead the way, spending an estimated $178 billion, and transportation is next at $78 billion.” Click To Tweet
Businesses that embrace IoT will have the first-mover advantage. IoT is a strategic enabler of digital transformation, helping businesses create customer-centric business models and enrich customers’ experience.
With the ubiquitous connectivity across mobile devices, cloud, computers, and apps, there is an increasing need for organizations to handle enormous amounts of data securely.
Traditional approaches to data protection – firewalls, encryption, and passwords, often fail to lock down the data adequately. The challenge for organizations is that they need to follow innovative approaches to expose data only to the required people while maintaining confidentiality and adhering to regulatory compliance standards. Enterprises need to go beyond the legacy methods and move towards a comprehensive solution that offers data protection at a granular level. Data Masking is evolving to bridge the gap left by the traditional approaches to data protection.
What is Data Masking?
Gartner defines data masking as “a technology aimed at preventing the abuse of sensitive data by giving users fictitious (yet realistic) data instead of the original data.”
Also known as Data Anonymization or Data Pseudonymization, data masking is the process of interchanging or varying certain elements of the data, enabling privacy and confidentiality of data. While the structure of the data remains the same, the presentation of information is changed to protect sensitive and confidential information.
Data masking is essential in a few scenarios where the functional substitute of the real data does the job instead of using the actual data. For example, if you need to mask a postal code, you can merely randomize the numbers. But if you need the data for application testing, it is important to maintain the right format for the application to recognize it.
Data Masking – Why & How?
Here are three situations in which data masking is critical:
- Securing data in non-production environments
Organizations continue to improve the functionality of their existing applications. As a result, application development often compels developers to test the functionality in the production-like environments to ensure that it is in line with the standards set. For testing, developers need to obtain data from production. Organizations often breach information unknowingly when they share the data from regulated production environments to non-production environments. Data breaches in non-production environments can cause loss of millions of dollars to organizations.
- Handling insider threats
While most data breaches happen from malicious external attacks, they can also take place due to internal factors – within an organization. Insider threats that cause loss or damage to data include accidents, phishing, theft, carelessness, malware attacks, hacking, etc. As per a 2017 Insider Threat Report, 53 percent of companies estimate remediation costs of $100,000 and more, with 12 percent estimating a cost of more than $1 million. Developers and testers need access to the data from the Production environment. It is important to protect data that is vital for the purposes such as development, testing, and QA cycles. Hence, data masking is becoming a standard practice that is often necessary to secure data. More so, organizations are now compelled to have compliance with the national and international data protection legislation. By masking the production data, developers and testers would have the liberty to work with the real data without compromising on the confidentiality of data.
- Ensuring compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the latest regulation passed by the European Union to govern the way businesses administer and protect customers’ personal data. It has come into effect from May 25th, 2018. This regulation focuses on the protecting an individual’s privacy rights and emphasizes the need for “Pseudonymization,” an umbrella term that encapsulates procedures like Data Masking, encryption and hashing. It also directs organizations to regulate the amount of data they collect and minimize it to a bare minimum. Under the GDPR regulation, personal information collected by a company cannot be used for any other purpose unless it is pseudonymized.
All in all, ‘Data Masking’ offers organizations a highly efficient way to comply with the data security requirements. It effectively reduces the risk of data breaches and protects the sensitive data from malicious and accidental thefts.
AutoRABIT, an end-end Continuous Delivery suite for SaaS platforms, has rolled out Data Masking feature in its 4.2 GA release to help enterprises successfully achieve data security. Our enterprise-class data masking solution encompasses data masking best practices and enables organizations to balance the need to use and secure the data.
Click here to learn more about AutoRABIT 4.2 GA Release Data Masking Solution and more.
What a huge deal! Salesforce’s $6.5 billion acquisition of MuleSoft is astounding to everyone in the SaaS world. But what does the deal mean for the industry?
What Is the Salesforce-MuleSoft Deal All About?
For Salesforce, this acquisition is a strategic and game-changing move that will strengthen its position in the industry. MuleSoft is an API integration platform that connects apps, data and devices both on-premise and across any cloud. Industry insiders have had mixed opinions about whether MuleSoft’s on-premise deployment model works for Salesforce, a cloud-based SaaS platform. But, Salesforce has been on the lookout for opportunities to support its Force.com platform in the hybrid-cloud world. As Salesforce has built its artificial intelligence and machine-learning layer, Einstein, it now wants to give companies access to any data, regardless of where the data is stored. MuleSoft offers Salesforce precisely that capability. The acquisition was completed in the first week of May 2018, making Salesforce one of the world’s leading platforms for building application networks that connect enterprise apps, data and devices across any cloud and on-premise–whether they connect with Salesforce or not.
For MuleSoft, the deal is a huge win. MuleSoft is the fastest growing top-five enterprise software company, with 1,200 customers, including big names like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. MuleSoft’s flagship product – Anypoint platform has now become part of Salesforce Integration Cloud, a service that drives intelligent, customized customer experiences. MuleSoft has been recognized for its innovative technology, and the company has innovative plans to take advantage of the Salesforce Integration Cloud. An article published in techgenix.com states that Salesforce is on the acquisition spree and diversifying its business beyond CRM in order to achieve its new goal of reaching $20 billion by 2024. Commenting on the diversification efforts of Salesforce, Vishnu Datla, CEO of AutoRABIT said, “All large clients have ERPs powering their businesses. While Salesforce provides a robust CRM, it cannot be in a silo. Clients want to integrate their back-office applications to CRM, and MuleSoft is the best way to do this.”
Salesforce-MuleSoft: Impact on the industry
In the current digital age, every company needs to transform the way they do business. Over the last decade, software development practices have drastically improved. There’s an intense pressure on IT organizations to move faster. The collaboration between Salesforce and MuleSoft will offer customers modern software development and seamless flow of data across the digital value chain, enabling customers to make smarter and faster decisions. MuleSoft’s is going to play a significant role in the IT world, from helping organizations connect individual business software tools, to creating reusable, integrated application networks.
“Together, Salesforce and MuleSoft will enable customers to connect all of the information throughout their enterprise across all public and private clouds and data sources—radically enhancing innovation,” said Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, in a statement.
“MuleSoft is at the center of the significant opportunity to help organizations bring their digital investments together, into an application network. As enterprises move their business to the cloud, deploy SaaS and embrace mobile and IoT, the challenge to quickly and efficiently deploy projects to deliver the benefits of digital transformation is massive,” said Greg Schott, CEO of MuleSoft.
The AutoRABIT Perspective
For us at AutoRABIT, the deal is a welcome surprise. As a partner to both companies, we see their combined power as a gamechanger for most industries. The world’s leading cloud app platform will now be tied at the hip to the leading “connector” of apps. The business of all sizes will be enabled to quickly create new and better customer experiences, taking advantage of the fact that data can now seamlessly flow and interact across apps, clouds, devices, and databases. Companies will be bound only by the speed of their DevOps practices.
Are you open to change?
Innovation is the new currency of competitive advantage. The future belongs to innovative leaders who can discern the trends and are not afraid to be pioneers and trendsetters that seize the attendant opportunities. A company’s adaptability and comfortability with change, one could argue, is its lifeblood.
Customers demand more; faster and cheaper. The DNA of startups predisposes them to be fast, and cost-effective in their operations. Consequently, large corporation see wisdom in collaborating with startups to lend scalability, innovativeness and speed to their operations. According, to a study conducted by KPMG, 90% of corporates said that they required startups to enable them to innovate (KPMG, 2015). Ironically, while corporations want to improve their competitive edge by embracing startups, they make the process of collaboration laborious. For many startups, getting approvals and security clearances can be an uphill battle that can taint the experience of the engagement.
In a recent transaction with a large and well known financial firm (now a customer), getting from inquiry to acquisition was exasperating. In my case, there were several rounds of grueling and extensive discussions with legal, involving at a certain point seven lawyers, with the customer. These legal discussions easily spanned 2 months and most the time was spent primarily on the Master Service Agreement (MSA). The impact of lengthy and sometimes convoluted discussions on my time and resources was that I ended up spending 50% of the yearly contract value on legal bills. Was spending a lot of time hashing out legal (battling with 7 lawyers) issues, security (filling out extensive security questionnaire (one of which had 250 questions) issues, operations, human resources issues to sign an agreement necessary? Maybe. However, was it practical for both parties involved? Maybe not. The right Corporate–Startup collaborations are hugely beneficial for both sides. Presently, however, there remain significant hurdles which can make these relationships difficult to initiate, manage and bring to fruition.
Where do we go from here?
It is imperative for large companies to understand that at their core, corporations and startups are very different, and always will be. For instance, the General Terms and Conditions implemented by large organizations are generally fit for purpose when dealing with other large organizations, and not startups. Therefore, forcing startups to pass through rigorous processes designed for vetting other large companies when evaluating them for a transaction is not practical and neither is it feasible.
For corporations to remain innovative and competitive, it’s imperative that they increase their relationships with SaaS Startups. As business models change, boutique SaaS companies will be the most likely to provide the agility, flexibility, customer success and solutions that large corporations need to remain relevant in their industry. Fortune 1000 or such large corporations must align their current strategies to leverage the new age technologies that startups can provide. This will require that they do several processes and procedures differently.
Furthermore, it is important to offer a clear and separate process for dealing with Startups. Corporations need mechanisms to work on partnerships quickly. Successful startup partnerships depend on being loose, fast, and efficient—just like a typical Startup. Having this setup, allows both sides to uncover potential hurdles, experiment and/or fail fast.
While lengthy up-front negotiations over IP concerns, access to talent, and expected time commitments may protect against security vulnerabilities, they may equally lead to gridlock, and failure. Therefore, it is important to create separate internal processes for cultivating business relationships with Startup. Work early and often with internal departments—such as Legal, Procurement, PR, and others (depending on the organization)—to make sure everyone is on the same page and understands agreed-upon guardrails (KPMG, 2015). It is mission critical to devote dedicated people to working with startups and take them out of the Corporate structure so that they can act and move faster so they are more in line with Startup speed. Startups work against time and Corporates usually go with time (KPMG, 2015). Consider ways to simplify processes, to have a clear entry process, relax KPIs and involve top management to reduce career risk for employees (KPMG, 2015).
The appraisal criteria and processes required by corporates can be exacting and time-consuming. For example, to be registered as a preferred vendor or partner or even procured as a solution, may mean that the Startup is required to produce substantial documentation to pass a security or legal assessment. Subsequently, the corporate often needs time to review the submitted information and perform their due diligence before they can express a final judgment on the feasibility of collaboration with the startup. Many of these evaluative steps occurring even before the Startup has even had a chance to give a demonstration of their solution.
Some practical steps
- Optimize Evaluation Process: Virtual Private Network (VPN)’s and compliance and policies are major deterrents in the collaboration between Corporations and Startups because Corporations are cautious of opening up their environment to external partners. However, for a collaboration to be successful, some level of vulnerability is inevitable. Therefore, Centers of Excellence (CoE) should be setup to conduct evaluations without red-tape. Corporations should consider having a ‘sandbox’ or a ‘Playground’ ready (an environment that replicates your org, maybe outside the VPN, for example) for evaluation purposes.
- Furthermore, invest in additional security measures that can protect your company when you on board a startup.
- Find the shortest route to procurement: Large organizations should find the shortest route to a demo. Many times, big companies subject Startup companies to rigorous assessment processes, thereby, consuming significant amounts of time and resources. Sometimes, the result of these assessments does not culminate in a procurement. Therefore, it can be beneficial for large organizations to dedicate some time to pre-test the product/service internally. If internal tests are positive, only then ask the startup to go through the whole accreditation/assessment process.
- Corporates need to realize that contracts with Startups are seldom as iron clad as those with large companies. Thus, making them relatively easy to terminate. As such, large companies can save time on the front end by spending time evaluating as opposed to drawing up contracts.
Pay asking price: Comparatively speaking, conducting business with Startups comes at a relatively low cost. Having said that, large companies can aid financial growth for Startups by paying their asking price rather than looking for ways to beat down prices. Pay a fair price so that startups can invest back into research and product development.
Simplify legal matters: RFP (Request for Proposal), MSA, NDA and other legal requirements are often very exacting. Corporations may suggest that the Startup enlist the services of a lawyer to deal with contractual matters. While Startups will comply, it is important not to bug them down with extensive legal contracts, it is advisable for corporates to create a separate legal assessment track for Startups. For example, one cannot reasonably ask a startup to provide a10 million-dollar insurance coverage when one is paying a startup $10k/year. Simplify contracts as much as possible so startups can minimize legal costs and control their meagre finances.
- Own a separate legal evaluation process: Have a separate legal evaluation process for startups implementing technologies such as SaaS, IoT, etc. For example, Have SIMPLE SaaS, IT, Hardware, Database templates ready for new technologies like IoT, SaaS, BigData.
When Corporations and Startups establish a successful collaboration, it can be powerful. To effectively harness this power, the onus falls on both entities to build infrastructures to help facilitate the collaboration process. At AutoRABIT, we have an extensive experience of successfully working with major corporations. We have the nimbleness, scalability and speed to enable your team to achieve Salesforce Release Management as efficiently as possible. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can be of help. Let’s collaborate!