If you took a look at almost any list of tech or business news articles you could be forgiven for thinking that AI, Artificial Intelligence, is truly upon us. But before you head off into the wilderness of gathering data to feed the robots, take a moment to think about some much more immediate gains all around us thanks to the open architecture of the modern web. As sales people like to say, there's money being left on the table. You haven't automated all the things yet.
Nearly every Software-as-a-Service application in use by your customers, team, or company will have an API (Application Programming Interface). An API can do many things, but often will let you control the application and get data from it via code. Imagine, for example, being able to order a custom t-shirt for someone when they complete a significant piece of training in iQualify, or flash all of those LIFX bulbs in your hallways red when more than 20 customer complaints come in to your support queue. Or, more practically, create a new invoice in Xero when you sell something in Shopify. Sounds magic, and complex, right?
In the past, mentioning an API was enough to get software development teams involved, heading into planning with stories, tests, and the latest serverless frameworks ready to roll.
Magic yes, complex no.
Best of all, you already have the people able to do this and they are waiting for you to create the right opportunity for them to shine. And that leads us to Integration Engineers: the most important new responsibility in your company, school or club that you probably don't have yet.
They know your business and the business of your customers inside out. They have come through your support team, marketing, customer service, pre-sales support and everywhere else while you were looking to your software development team to provide all the answers.
So what's an Integration Engineer and why do you need one?
You have a customer who already knows how to solve a set of problems but now wants to work with you. That's right, they want something that you can provide if only your business processes and software tools would get out of the way. They're already talking to your support team or your sales team, and everyone is starting to feel a little out of their depth. You know that in a good year it can take weeks to build and deploy software, but you have hours or days at most.
Integration Engineers are one of many emerging jobs that are taking advantage of the changing software and services landscape. The attributes needed for the role really do reflect the changing nature of teams everywhere, fitting the digitally-literate generalist with great communication skills.
The time of the robots is coming, but it's not here yet. Integration Engineers are here to automate every thing that's automatable, to connect everything that's connectable, to take your robots' jobs. Welcome to the era of integration engineering.
Photo by Erhan Astam